I don’t remember my childhood.
Nothing except the smell of the monsoon rains, right before they lashed onto the verandah. Me, the solitary crawler, both enchanted and perplexed by a sudden downpour, would rush indoors to the safety of my mother’s lap. Such memories are vague, rather loosely etched on my mind. But the smell of the rains, the Petrichor, is something I can never forget.
I suspect that the ravishingly beautiful Petrichor is hard-coded deep into the minds of every human being. It is passed onto an individual through an infinite chain of forefathers. Or maybe it is simply a gift from heaven. After all that’s where the rains come from!
I cannot help but wonder– how the first homo sapien, the legendary Adam (or his Indian counterpart, Manu) had reacted to the first onset of rains. Did he enjoy it as much as I do? Did he dance with over-brimming joy? Cherishing the feeling of getting wet, the cold water relinquishing the thirst of his dry skin. Or did the rains make him anxious? The Petrichor acting as a beacon for some impending danger? I don’t know the answer, neither am I hopeful of ever finding it. [Unless I somehow stumble upon John Oldman from The Man from Earth].
We humans have long romantisized the rains. Perhaps since the age of Manu. And I blame the Petrichor for this allurement. Kissed by the rains, the magical aroma gently rises up from the earth and is imbibed by our nasal cavities. Once inside, it churns up its magic among our brain cells. Wizardry so powerful, it overwhelms our senses- though only for a brief moment.
“Soaked to skin within seconds,
I felt a wonderful sense of flooding warmth and invigoration;
it was, indubitably, a little bit like being born again“.
I second that!
It may be interesting to note–and this might not be unique to India— how eagerly people anticipate the arrival of monsoon. They await the rains throughout the year and finally welcome them with open hands. Much like a child awaits his city uncle who brings a plethora of sweets on every visit. And their wait is justified too. For India, a predominantly agriculture based country, the onset of rains means a good harvest later in the year.
Petrichor is, thus, more than just a happy smell. It is a promise of abundance, a welcome chance of survival, and a hope that the merry childhood days will be back again.
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