Friday, January 10, 2014

The Smell of Shrimp Paste

 Today I write because I'm homesick--not homesick for the little town I grew up in but homesick for Thailand. I've started an assignment for an English course I'm taking called, "Creative Non-Fiction." My writing prompt is to write a story about being ambushed by a smell. Think about it. This happens to all of us--you enter a room filled with a certain smell and it takes you back to a place in time. Well, the smell I am writing about is typical of a TCA because it is the smell of shrimp paste wafting into our house from the neighbour's house almost every morning like clockwork. The smell assaulted me with memories that occurred in that house for 7 years of our lives as a family--especially morning memories when the smell was pungent in the air. Mostly mornings of trying to get the kids ready for school--mornings of loud arguments with my daughter who hated mornings, mornings of hunting for school uniforms, whether skirts or pants or even sports teams, mornings of trying to get my son to eat a little something before heading out the door. 

 Admittedly, these memories make me sad because I was often so impatient, so unkind--a reminder that I was and sometimes still tend to be a control freak. I've learned much about myself in that area in the last 7 years and am thankful that God is gentle and kind and patient with me and with my relationship with my children. I was so far from being the perfect mother and yet God protected these relationships and caused them to grow and flourish in Him so that despite my past failures, I have beautiful connections with my kids. I feel so blessed.

There were also happy memories mixed with the sad ones. MANY happy memories. Our dog Rosie would almost always make us smile in the morning as she attempted to attack our cat, who wanted nothing to do with the dog. I think Rosie was a morning dog and our cat, Kitty, was a night cat. Two opposites clashing in the morning like my daughter and me. But also memories of eating together, celebrating birthdays and holidays together, playing games together. Lots of love and good times.

And so I am homesick, all from writing about the smell of shrimp paste. Nothing triggers the TCA syndrome like food. Sometime I'll have to write more about that. But not today. And now that I've written here, I feel joy instead of sadness and am thankful for the gift of memory. God is good.


~Rain``` said...

As I was wandering the streets of Seoul, certain smells took me back to my very short time in Hong Kong. Yes, smells are powerful in bringing back memories.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are an amazing Mother and Grandmother, one of the best I know. :) So it is nice to know that even you are imperfect. It gives me hope. :)

Lovella said...

It's so interesting, the ways the sense of smell affects our memories! I often wonder at that!!
And also so thankful for the grace God shows us as parents that how, despite our mistakes, he can work in our children and heal relationship!!