Friday, March 09, 2012
Maybe the start was due to a sniff
'Learning a different language'
I watched him buy coffee powder and special washing liquid for his woollen pullover, stain remover for the coffee stain on his precious blue shirt, watched him scoff at the mestermacher bread, compare the prices here to what it was back home, buy focaccia bread and tomato spaghetti sauce, and a large bottle of gherkins.
Today I realized what initially attracted me to him. Well, not enough time has passed to make me sentimental, but walking into abercrombie and fitch and absolutely not liking the 'signature scent' that permeated the building, and later, not liking the smell in my handbag too; as I took a sample, made me realize how easy it was for him to get me, because, I liked his smell.
We argued, just for fun, everywhere. In a way, I felt liberated. Knowing that we could only understand less than half of what we spoke to each other, I could freely speak what was on my mind. How I really felt about things in my life. And what I thought about. Those things I could not articulate to others for fear of being horrifically judged. We argued in supermarkets, just because we spent most of our time there and the aisles were large enough to walk, and talk. We argued over the gherkins, the bottles and bottles of them. Looking at them just made me feel queasy. Such huge green slugs they looked like. He said that bubble tea, the bubble tea I always bought when walking with him to the beach, was ugly. The bubbles were 'glipbery'. He could not take the texture of those yummy, chewy pearls and refused to wait for me buying a drink which in my opinion, makes me happier. Fine, I said, I will go buy while you queue! And let's meet at the traffic light later!
And not just because I liked his smell, I also like the way he smiled at me, almost like a child, the smile with crinkly eyes where you could see the beginning of wrinkles appear. A happy smiley face I had wished to meet.
I realized today that I had an inherent attraction to his scent. He was using the stainless steel canister, magnetic capped bottle that in those days were only found in international airports duty-free stores and not retailed in Singapore. I was immediately attracted to the scent of Carolina Herrera's 212 Men, that my daddy's boss bought for him and in turn, it was presented as a gift to my then-boyfriend. I lingered over the bottle that resembled a high-tech casing for precious materials, and took delight in absorbing the scent.
Entirely forgetting about its existence for nearly a decade until it popped up again, on the sparse white table of a man who would be here for a few months and whom for, I was the first ever local person he befriended.
Shoppers were looking at us strangely as we talked loudly, a strange sight, of an Asian lady berating a tall and lanky European male. In other less well-advanced countries this sight would not have been possible.
We went to the supermarket together as if we had known each other for years.
The first word I learnt in his language was tissue paper.