This incident happened a few months back. I was driving from Mumbai to Pune with my dear friend who has recently been married and stays at Pune. I was in Mumbai for some work. My friend, Priya had come to meet me in Mumbai. I had the weekend off and she insisted I visit her home. I couldn't refuse. After all, what better way to spend the weekend than with a dear old friend, I thought. We took her car and drove off to Pune. A pleasant weather, a large flask of coffee, some eatables, cool music and an old friend to keep company. What else could I wish for! We started early morning so that we could avoid traffic.
It must have been around 8 am when just before hitting the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, we saw a lady waving her hands furiously asking for a lift. I could see her car parked which I believe must have broken down. My first reaction was to not stop. After all, you can never trust strangers these days. But just as I drove past her, something inside me asked me to stop. What if she is in some emergency? I can atleast ask her what’s wrong, I thought and stopped the car. Both of us got down. She seemed relieved to see our car stop and came running towards us. I could see she was well-dressed and looked like an educated woman. Panting a bit, she said that her car had broken down and she needed to reach Pune urgently and asked for a lift. She also said that she would pay me if need be. I wanted to help her but somehow I couldn’t really trust her and asked her to take a cab. May be she sensed that I was hesitating to help her.
‘I know it’s really difficult to trust strangers these days. May be if I would have been in your place, I would have done the same. But trust me. I could have taken a cab but it would be very late by the time I call for a cab service. Besides, I cannot hire a cab here since I have my two year old son with me and I am a little apprehensive about unknown cab drivers. I work for a multinational. Here’s my card. Hope you would be able to trust me now’, she said.
I looked at the card. Shivani Prasad. She was a General Manager at an Advertising firm. Priya and I looked at each other and talked in Gujarati saying that it wouldn’t be a problem if we gave her a lift. She seemed genuine. And we nodded to give her the lift till Pune. She seemed relieved.
She ran back to her car, brought her luggage and put it inside our car. She then went and picked up her son. She took the backseat and we started the journey with her thanking us profusely. She told us that it was her brother’s engagement today at Pune and that’s why she was in a hurry. She went on to tell us a few things about herself. Her son, Aditya was a cheerful little baby. Contrary to my expectations, not once during the whole journey did he cry. Shivani kept him entertained with her songs and funny noises. Priya held Aditya for a long time and he seemed comfortable even with complete strangers like us.
We took turns to driving. And while Priya was at the wheel, Shivani offered me to hold the baby. I refused saying that they are delicate creatures. And that I was sure the moment I would hold him he would start howling. Shivani laughed at this and thrust Aditya in my arms. And to my utter surprise he did not cry. He smiled his cutest smile at me and my heart just melted holding this beautiful little kid in my arms. He somehow found my earrings very amusing and played with them all through the journey.
I don’t know whether we kept Aditya entertained with our gimmicks to make him laugh or we were being thoroughly entertained in his company. Hours passed in a jiffy and soon we were in Pune. Shivani told us her address and it was time to say goodbye to Aditya. While Shivani insisted that we join her at her brother’s engagement, we politely refused even though, I had half mind to attend it since that would have meant some more wonderful time with the cutie pie. I clicked a few pictures with him for the amazing time I had. Shivani thanked us again and we drove off.
I somehow felt so connected with that kid. The car without Aditya’s smiling noises felt so quiet. While we were driving quietly towards Priya’s home, I suddenly asked, hey what’s that fragrance?
‘Can’t you smell, there is this amazing kind of fragrance in the car. Something very different.’
‘I got it’, she said.
‘This is Aditya’s fragrance.’
And she was right. It was a baby’s fragrance. I know everytime a baby is around, a unique mesmerizing fragrance enwraps the air. A faint fragrance that is a concoction of various baby products and something indefinable. May be the indefinable is the fragrance of their innocence. A tinge of sweetness mixed with the warmth you feel in your heart when you a hold a baby. Perhaps it is this warmth that leads to this baby fragrance. Ethereal you would say and I wouldn’t argue. Perhaps, every fragrance isn’t meant to be defined, some should be silently savored, in all its purity amalgamated with an aura of bliss. That scent tugged my heartstrings in ways more than one, capturing my mind too, as I drifted away in its smoothness.
How I wish I could capture this baby fragrance in a bottle and keep it with me. And every time I used it, it would bring me back to the wonderful time I spent with Aditya. How I wish such fragrance existed !