Strona główna

The drinker:

The smell. The very sound of this word thrills me and I’m becoming anxious. In all my life the sense of smell has played one of the main parts in finding the truth about the world. As early as being a child, I felt as if crossing the threshold of the real world, when I was walking in the wet and dark streets of November. The streets were full of rotten brown leaves, stacked into heaps that had been smouldering for hours. The smoke trailed in the air, shrouding the town. Excited with the scent, I couldn’t calm myself down.

On another occasion, we were walking with a group of friends, talking animatedly. Suddenly I lose contact with them because of the smell of the entrance hall we entered. In a fraction of a second I found myself in another dimension. The friends stared at me, surprised with the lack of contact, understanding nothing. I stood in front of them stupefied and focused on one thing: what was the smell?
Once, during the period of the martial law in Poland, when shops were empty and only sometimes you could get anything in them, I bought a little English soap packed in a carton box, I remember neither the name nor the brand. At home I unpacked the purchase, soaped my hands and put them to my face.

The experience was sudden and shocking. The scent of the soap evoked projections before my eyes. I found myself in the end of the fifties, on an August sunny Sunday morning during my summer holidays in the country. As far as the eye could see, white stool with a white bowl full of water stood in front of each house of the village. Sons of the farmers stood at them, stripped to the waist, washing themselves. Working for the mines in Silesia, they came back only for two days to take part in a dance at the firehouse. They were washing themselves, and then they were washing their motorcycles that stood near the stools. Nickel-plated parts of them sparkled in the sunlight and reflected the sky. For long I couldn’t identify the smell. Only recently I discovered that it was the smell of the weeds overgrowing the stream.
Copyright Jacek Rykała ©