College, first year. This is first time most of us are living in a hostel, with its community living, corridors, messes and wings. It was exciting times. There was a world of opportunity ahead of us. I was in Room 404. My room mate seemed nice. And things were going quite well. Until, of course, a smell started engulfing the entire wing. It’s source appeared to be Room 406. I can’t name the person here, but we all knew. We certainly did.
As it so happened the route to our hostel gate from Rooms 401 to 405 was best traversed through the front of Room 406. But we all changed it, independently. We had to. Now the new route meant going from the 200s series which meant traveling at least half of the original distance more. This went on for quite a while.
Then came the time to bell the cat. On birthdays, deodorants were the most common gift, if not the only. But to no effect. Sometimes people threw water in front of the room. I wonder why, but well, they did. Still no effect. Jokes were made on bathing and cleanliness rituals. Nada. Finally one day, one of us, I don’t remember who came to the darn point and mentioned, “Dude, I am sorry to say this but you smell a little. You should do something about it.” The emphasis was on the ‘smell’. We did feel sad. He was a friend, after all, but this needed to be done. We all were in agreement to that.
Surprisingly, he was quite accepting and forthcoming. I always assumed that the person who is odorous doesn’t know about it. That somehow his own nose gets acclimatized to the smell. But he knew. Maybe we were too obvious or well, the nose knew.
I would have liked to tell you that from the very next day, things began to change. But no it took a bit of time. He did do a few things. I am not sure what all but the odour weakened a lot.
By now, I was habituated to the other route. So it didn’t matter much. But still, a couple of years later when his sister was getting married and I along with a couple of other friends went for it, there came a moment, right after the dance, when we all hugged. Now, smell and hugs don’t go that well. Surprisingly, there were no issues. The odour had more or less gone, or maybe we had gotten habituated to our smelly friend. Nonetheless, one of the memories I have of that friend is his body odour, not something I wish to remember him by but it is what comes to the mind first.