I have smell memory. I woke up with it today. I woke up remembering the smell of my childhood kitchen dishwashing liquid and I was taken back to that sunny kitchen with its grey and black lino squares on the floor, fat glass bottles of yogurt, and sticky tomato and cheese spaghetti that Lilian Mpila used to make for us.
I remember smells from my childhood all the time. I long for those strange grey squares of chewing gum in pink wrappers that had the best smell.
Winter smelled of Badedas and Fenjal.
Summer smelled of those pungently sweet and sickly daisies that don’t seem to grow in Cape Town, or I have outgrown the response to that smell.
I have smell memory for burned out, old fashioned light bulbs. They don’t have that smell anymore. I have smell memory for Pratley’s putty; a standard go-to for my father, that I haven’t used in decades.
I have smell memory of people’s skin and bodies. People who have gone.