The woody scent of roasting chestnuts fills my whole being again, after decades and so far away from Europe; I am at One Utama shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur; memories of my student days flashed in front of my open eyes like a collage of eventful occurrences.
It was my first winter in London.
In those times,the days were extremely short and dark.Snow piled up in heaps on both sides of the roads as my friend,Baba, and I struggled to pave our way to Holborn tube station.
Curbed into two,shivering under my winter coat, a whiff of browning nuts made me jerk. I turned to my friend and asked –
” What’s the scent?’
“Roasting chestnuts” he replied, as he gestured with his chin at a black silhouette in the corner of the street.
I could vaguely make out,in the distance,a man or a woman, shabbily dressed, occupied in front of a stove of burning charcoals.A light smoke raised as a cloudy mist around the stove, danced playfully in the icy air.
We crossed the road.
The alluring scent of roasted chestnuts swelled my nostrils.
Baba bought a small paper bag of piping hot chestnuts and ceremoniously offered it to me.
I tasted the first roasted chestnut of my life and I spontaneously became fond of this soft and delightful delicacy.
Baba took up a job at Knightsbridge for end of term and Christmas vacation.
Among other lovely Christmas gifts, which he offered to me,I found a luxuriously wrapped box of ‘marrons glacés’ from Harrods.
After our law studies, we parted. We did not keep in touch but I still love chestnuts,roasted,candied or steamed.
It’s amazing how the sound of music or the whiff of a scent can bring to our mind souvenirs of cherished instances that we carry inside us and which,possibly none of us actually knows is there.
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