Last night I lay in bed drifting in and out of the nothingness which consumes me, worried about things that shouldn’t concern me and dreaming of fantasies that will never be. And I lay there, still, between my white sheets which clung to my skin like on a hot summer’s night, sticking to my legs. It’s like this fly persisting to attach itself to my screen, that won’t let go. But something brought me out of my slumber. There was something about this heat. It’s August, and summer somewhere else but not here. Here is Cape Town. Here is home. But tonight, my heart is somewhere else. August is usually our coldest month. But today the sun’s rays were burning my skin through my clothes, that uncomfortable feeling of restlessness you get that there’s nothing you can do about. It will burn you either way. But it wasn’t a winter’s sun. Today felt like summer. And smelled of a summer I spent in Istanbul. An old familiar scent I had once been acquainted with, a fragrance which lingered under my nose. I waited, thinking it would fade away as memories do. But it remained. A sweet, sweet fragrance which stuck to my sleeve the way scents do when you put them on your skin. It’s like a perfume I had sprayed on a shirt that I picked up some days later that was still infused with its notes. But this was not my perfume. It was the scent of my body lotion lingering longer than usual. But it didn’t smell of it. It smelled of something else, someone else. A woman, a young lady I had stayed with in Turkey. A beautiful being I was fortunate enough to have crossed paths with.
There’s something about the people of travelled lands. There’s an education in them which needs to be learnt, studied and talked about. There’s an education in them which needs to be experienced, which needs to be lived. A humility I discovered in them. It’s in their hearts, in their affection, in their generosity and their hospitality. Like a note, a subtle scent of something unexpected that surprises you that you feel delight. That was the scent – delight! It’s a memory of a young woman who had spritzed her perfume on her scarf before she left the house, the memories of a kind woman, a generous one. Memories of the people who stole my heart, who showed me what it meant to be looked after by strangers, who bestowed upon me acts of kindness, who internalised in me the feeling of being in someone else’s house and calling it home. It was the greeting at the airport when you saw me, a little shy & nervous. It was an embrace to pacify me. It was the first cup of coffee you had made me. It was in the time I was sick and you fed me or in the time I got lost and you came to find me. It’s everything in you, in your nature, in your being. It’s your scent, your fragrance which lingers onto others, onto those who pass by you. It’s the scent we take back to our homelands and remember you and how you made us feel. It’s you. You are the rose, the flower.