Chameli …..

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I wish they invented a social medium which could transform the fragrance with the images. !!!

Being at home has its own obvious advantages. However, there are some subtle, generally ignored but significant experiences which make all the difference. I was fortunate this year, I came around the same time the Chameli bloomed abundantly in the garden. The monsoon has been generous and my garden is filled with this beautiful perfume every evening while I sit in the porch sipping my coffee.
Unfortunately, Bollywood has created such a distorted image of this word “Chameli” that it is usually hard to relate it with anything beautiful or fragrant. Chameli, most of the times is a heavy, heady, cheap, pungent odor. We also tease sometimes “Kya Chameli ka tel laga ke aaya hai”. Sadly, no one remembers the original, delicate and aromatic flower is was made by nature.
Chameli for me has been the scent for reminiscing happiness, joy, festivals, peace, friendship and childhood. In short – home. Generally, the flowers would start blooming by the end of September. In Vidarbha, the day after Anant Chaturdashi, we had a month long festival called “Bhulabai”. It was more of a folk festival where all the girls got together and sang folk songs in the evening. Our deity would be a small idol of a husband “Bhula” and the wife “Bai” with a child and the songs would be usually about women and their ordinary lives. There were songs about washing clothes and cleaning house, about cooking and playing, about jewelry and sarees, about birth and death, about good “maher” and bad “saasar”. The favorite song, which is still well known, was – “Karlyachi bee per ga sunbai”. It depicted how a mother in law abused her daughter in law so smartly and how finally the daughter in law triumphed.
So throughout this month, the garland to our “Bhulabai” was of Chameli. The fragrance always accompanied us – in every house of a friend where we sang songs and ate the “Khau” in the end. The Gajara we so fondly put in our short hair was Chameli. The flowers were a beautiful bond connecting girls, women and the culture together. It created memories, happiness and bonding. The flowers bloomed right through the Navaratri till the Kojagiri pournima. The last festival of the season where the family gathered on the terrace and enjoyed sweetened and thickened milk. It was the onset of winters after Kojagiri and the time for the Chameli to fade away. However, the Kojagiri was one last moment enhanced by the Chameli which held families together.
And getting the Chameli flowers was so easy those days. Every house had it in the courtyard. The flowers bloomed on the shrub and fell down. It was more of picking than plucking. The space below the shrub would be a lavish flower bed. And the entire colony would be full of the natural sweet scent. It would feel like the fragrance of khus in the summer and wet soil at the onset of monsoon. And it would be the same every year. For so many years. There are some scents which I cannot forget. There is Chameli which I don’t forget. It’s such a strong influence on my memories.
In recent years, I rarely find a Chameli tree in the city I live. But at times when I come back to my home town, it is still abundant. And I am relieved. I feel happy. I am happy this year, this time – for that same fragrance. And I can hear the songs of Bhulabai from a distance. And the constant fragrance is a beautiful reminder of old happiness and peace. And a life which was simpler, honest and innocent.
I wish they also invented something which could preserve the fragrance of Chameli till eternity.
But then I also wish they don’t – because it would not be the same then. Isnt it ??

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