Give My Fragrance Back

October 15, 2014

The reader may wonder what I have to write about fragrance. Well, there is. Fragrance is different from smell, fragrance is different from scent which we use on our bodies. I am writing and elaborating on fragrance, fragrance of nature which is, sadly, a rarity these days.

The word ‘perfume’ originates from the Latin word ‘per fumum’ which when translated literally give the meaning – from smoke. There is a mention of perfume being used from time immemorial. In the second century B.C.E. the use of perfume is mentioned in the history of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Hebrew word ‘messiah’ means the anointed one and it is common knowledge that anointing is done using fragrant oils, possibly extracted from nature’s abundance. Again in the Psalm 45:8 it is said. ‘All your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the lovely palaces by which they have made You glad.’ 

However, I take courage to say that it would have suited this write-up, had the word used was ‘fragranced’ instead of scented. But, nay, I am not competent to alter the Holy Scriptures! 

The fragrance I am referring to in this write-up refers only to the fragrance of Nature.

You will certainly ask me – does such fragrances still exist on this Earth? There is only the filthy smell which we call pollution and the present generation calls it their atmosphere. It is born in it and it does not know the difference.

However, at times I feel that all is not lost. Crazy I may sound, there are times when a tree blooms in the corner of a compound or on a green patch where the axe has not reached, skyscraper has not raised its ugly head nor a metro rail has not chug-chugged. Some of these fragrances may act as catalysts which bring back some faded memories. In 1955, I was operated upon by (Late) Dr.M.D.Adappa for the removal of my tonsils. The blooming of the wild champak generates a fragrance to which many are allergic but to me it brings back memories of the morning I lay supine on the operating table waiting for the chloroform mask to descend. Doctor’s clinic was surrounded by these wild champak trees and they were in bloom and strong fragrance of the flowers permeated into the operating theatre which was not air-conditioned nor sound-proof. Now whenever, rarely though, I smell these champaks, that morning comes to my mind.

There was a cashew apple tree at the far end of our compound which bordered the then famous Shresta’s Bungalow (present day Roshni Nilaya). This tree bloomed in summer, just a month before our school exams and it was a sheer ecstasy to sit on the forked branches of this tree and pretend to study and ward off Mom on the pretext of ‘revision studies!’

Sentimental fool am I? Proud to be so.

It was during one of vacations from the job I held in the Middle East, I wanted my young daughter to know how beautiful a fruit pomelo (thorenje in Konkani) is from the inside given the fragrance and the exquisite pink color of the sweet-sour segments. I failed to find a fruit anywhere in the vicinity. When there are no tress where will the fruits come from? At the same count where are the ‘bindam, rumbad, jambloo’ trees?

Cutting down trees and squashing greenery is now in our blood. We are geniuses. We have offered sacrifices of those marvelous trees to make way to the metro rails and high-rise buildings, with an assurance that these centuries old trees will be ‘transplanted’ elsewhere. A feeble attempt indeed to push a fetus back into the womb. How far this has succeeded is anybody’s guess.

Yes, progress is a continuous process and it does not stagnate. It cannot be stopped. It is ruthless to the extent to make this Big Blue Marble void of greenery, natural fragrance and beauty. Amidst all this annihilation, our Mother Earth is garroted and it pleads – Give My Fragrance Back!

By Edwin J F D'Souza
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Comment on this article

  • Gabriel Vaz, Bangalore

    Wed, Oct 22 2014

    Edwin, you have brought out good memories of perfume or fragrance. Yes, mother Earth may be crying `Give my fragrance back!'

    Since you have quoted Psalm 45:8, perhaps you may find this thought in Proverb 27:9 illuminating: `Oil and perfume make the heart glad, but the soul is torn in trouble.'

    What is the use of all the oil and perfume if all of us, me included, are not good human beings?

    In Matthew 16:26, we find this verse: `What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?'

  • John, Mangalore

    Tue, Oct 21 2014

    All is not lost. Mr Edwin is referring to the concrete jungle which we call a "city". If you move into some of the villages around Mangalore, you would still find the fragrance of freshness in the air. Tiny s of dew on the carpeted grass in the morning. When the first rays of sun falls on these lets, they shine like pearls. God had created all the beauty on Mother Earth for us. But we fail to notice these things now a days as we are busy glued to TV, internet, etc. One day these villages will be replaced by mega industries........

  • Zeena, Mangalore

    Tue, Oct 21 2014

    Very nice article Sir. Fragrance of mother nature is an experience to be cherished... Enjoyed reading.

  • John DSouza, Belman/Bejai/Qatar

    Sat, Oct 18 2014

    We cannot encourage pollution and breathe fragrance. Evil cannot produce the good.
    If serious, let us pause for a while, open our eyes to identify and acknowledge the historic error and implement a simple change, by which not only we, but even our forthcoming generations also can feel and enjoy the pleasant fragrance.

  • Prabhu, Blore

    Thu, Oct 16 2014

    Edwin you do bring back memories both good and bad.
    Gone is the fragrance of yester years and so the stink in many places.
    Still remember we had to pass Balmatta New Road to go to College and at the present K.M.C. Lower gate was the $hit Depo where all the pings would be collected and stored until once a week the municipal lorry would come load and take to Mudshedda.
    The fragrance has gone ED now we sniff various perfumes, when perfumed and fumed people pass by.
    The lift does smell fishy and sometimes $exy ! That's life !
    All the best ....

  • CGS, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 16 2014

    Progress will not give back your Fragrance,Edwin! Your write up is an eye opener.

  • Mervin Pinto, Dubai/Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 16 2014

    Good one Edwin, keep it up all your good work. Good luck Sir. Reminds us our childhood days too, gone are the days and the real beauty of life, where there was no TV & Cell phones, but had much more to enjoy, especially nature beauty, so many types of fruits we used to eat freely, had a good life. Feel sorry for the present generation. Missing most of the things. Keep it up more such write ups Sir. God bless you with long healthy life.

  • Ruben Pinto, Australia

    Thu, Oct 16 2014

    Yes Edwin, just as you,I deeply mourn the demise of those wonderful trees that you mentioned. My childhood was a wonderful experience sitting high on those trees and taking in the fragrance of those flowers and fruits. Spiritually speaking, we inherited this earth to enjoy and pass it on the next generation without degrading it. Some day in the near future our of-spring will curse us for our follies.

  • CA Nitin J Shetty, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 15 2014

    Edwin, Keep up the good work.....

  • Mrs. Chandrakala, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 15 2014

    Edwin Sir, this article brings back our childhood memories and definitely we can recall the fragrance of the nature’s gifts like flowers, fruits, etc. etc. and even the fragrance of mud during the monsoon!

  • John DSouza, Belman/Bejai/Qatar

    Wed, Oct 15 2014

    Yes, Edwin Sir, there is still hope to get your fragrance back, without making unsuccessful attempts to push a fetus back into the womb.
    As long as we are willful and proud to inhale the health hazardous air pollution and enjoy the peace disturbing sound pollution, there is no entry for the pleasant fragrance, which we are dreaming of.
    Only the need is to identify, realize, approve, support and rectify the error which can make a World of Difference, with the option to breathe fresh by regaining the lost fragrance.

  • Priya Das, Karkala / Mumbai

    Wed, Oct 15 2014

    Felt nice reading your article, dear Mr. Edwin. It is really sentimental and nostalgic. The narration brings back fond memories of the childhood and the various natural fragrances we used to enjoy.

  • Lance D' Costa, Mangalore / Abu Dhabi

    Wed, Oct 15 2014

    Nice article Edwin...quite sentimental and nostalgic. Your narration brings back fond memories of my childhood and the various natural fragrances we used to enjoy which you have mentioned. Sadly things have now changed but as you say all hope is not lost !

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