After spending few minutes suffering from the few who decided to protect planet earth by saving on the use of shower and deodorant, I was standing between two flights of stairs separating two of the colorful rooms at Powell’s Book. There were some shelves displaying some of the best sellers. I was browsing George Carlin’s book “Last Words”, when I was suddenly mesmerized by a scent that seems to hit the rewind button in my olfactory bulbs. I thought it was an aura and I will soon start convulsing violently.
Standing there, I was wearing my jeans and a magenta colored shirt with strange white drawings on its chest. My sunglasses were pulled up on top of my salt and pepper brown hair. My blue eyes were looking over the book expecting to read some funny jokes only to be disappointed to find an autobiography. I have grown fond of George Carlin’s smart jokes which uncovered everything wrong with conservatism.
It was strangely familiar aroma yet I have not experienced it for more than twenty years. Suddenly, I had a flashback. I pictured myself sitting on a carpeted floor supported by the wall of our local mosque in Damascus before the Friday prayer. I used to go earlier to get a better seat and read the Chapter (Surat) of “The Cave” in the Quran. It was costmary to read it before the prayer. It depicts the story of few men who fled with their faith from their unjust king and ended up staying the night in a cave. It was a dark cave and they woke up only to realize that they actually slept for more than three hundred years. I am sure that their story is also mentioned somewhere in the old or new testament.
I had, on occasions, worn the traditional negligee to the mosque but I usually went with regular clothes. Sometimes, someone used to pass around a tiny sampler container that has this peculiar scent that we used to call “The elders perfume”. It was a nice perfume that is derived from the damascene jasmine flower. People who wear it are usually the religious elite. I used to go to Friday prayer every week. In fact, I used to go to other prayers in the mosque too. You could call me a devout religious then. I read the Quran several times. I distinctly remember the verses that talk about equality between all people and not forcing religion on anyone.
I turned around to see where that smell was coming from. It was from a handsome white gentleman wearing a gray vest over a white shirt on top of gray pants. He had perfectly smooth hair combed to the left. His eyebrows were tattooed dark brown. I can’t remember the color of his eyes but I think they were brown. He was rushing upstairs probably looking for something or to meet somebody. There was no mirror there but if there was I would have looked perplexed. Who was the guy? And how could this scent change someone so much in 20 years?
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