The smell of curry hangs in the air like a wet carpet. It sticks itself into every crevice and crack in our house that we should have sold a long time ago. It snuggled in with my clothes and makes sure that everyone knows that I am the boy who smells like curry.
I read this article some time ago about some first-grade teacher spraying down a few Bangladeshi students with Febreeze because they smelled like curry. I remember feeling outrages, that this white lady felt the overwhelming need to detox these students in front of the entire class, not only ridiculing them but turning whatever self-confidence they had into mulch.
I used to smell like curry. Literally all the time. I couldn’t help it. We all lives on one floor, all the bedrooms around the central kitchen. When my mom cooked, that smell got everywhere. I could literally tell we were having a fresh lunch before I even stepped through the front door.
There was a time where I loved it. The smell of curry meant that my mom had cooked and we weren’t having leftovers today. But eventually, somewhere during high school, that smell became associated with being “brown.” It was my smell, and it stuck on every piece of clothing. Even the cheap, teenage deodorant couldn’t help. I just smelled like a bad combination of curry and Axe body spray.
I left home for a few years during college, and yet I still get the pangs of anxiety whenever I think that the smell is getting on my coat. I can still remember the ridicule and the snide, backhanded comments. I guess I was so angry at that teacher from the article because no kid should ever have to go through that. They can’t control what their parents cook. And no one should judge them for that.
Yet, here I still am, complaining that the whole house smells like curry and that I have somewhere to be in a few hours.