The Scent of love - IGBOAFRICANA
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The Scent of love

by - November 20, 2018

The scent of love was inspired by 'Mena' and 'NUDE' 2018 by Tega Akpokona
as seen  exhibited  at 2018 ArtX Lagos


“Please don’t forget to get the candles”

 Clara typed these words into her phone as a reminder before heading to the supermarket. It had been twelve years since she and Seun moved into their three bedroom flat at Yaba a few kilometers from seun’s gallery.

Clara and Seun met in their final year in university; she was a chemical engineering major while Seun studied fine art, so it wasn’t strange that they never saw  each other until the night they met.

It was her final year party, and although Clara rarely attended any parties, her friends convinced her to attend the party to commemorate their last night as undergrads besides all her friends were attending and she didn’t want to spend this special night alone.
Ten minutes after they arrived at the party,  Clara was already wishing she stayed at her dorm, the air in the hall was thick from all the smoke being exhaled by the group sitting at the darkest corner of the room. Despite the smoke and poorly lit room, Clara was able to see her best friend and roommate  Tumi’s boyfriend Ken wave at them from the smoky corner of the room.

“Clara we’re going to join them, are you coming” Tumi yelled over the music.

Sure” Clara said sounding unsure.

Her friends looked at one another before they stood up, it was already shocking that uptight Clara as they often called her, had decided to attend a party, and now she was going to join them at the hookah bar. when they arrived at the bar, Tumi sat on her boyfriend’s lap, while Clara and Nancy shared a seat.

“Sorry you’re in my seat”

A strong scent of bubble gum mixed with roses filled the air,  Clara turned around and saw the  unfamiliar face  responsible for the delicious scent that now filled the air around  her.

Seun looked like he barely spoke, he was six feet tall, and his dark skin blended well with the dim room, he wore very thick prescription glasses that made it impossible to see his eyes, and when he had a slight lisp when he spoke that was almost soothing.

“One of you should give up your spot now” one of  the girls they met at the bar suggested.

Seun stood in front of both girls waiting for a resolution, and hoping one of them to give up their half of the seat, but they both ignored him,and after standing for five minutes he looked  at both girls then he sat on Clara’s lap.
“Ahan why me?” Clara asked furiously.

I don’t know him so he has no business sitting on my lap; Clara thought, but rather than yell and curse him out like the Clara they knew would she sat still and enjoyed his rosy bubble gum scent, she needed at that moment to drown the  nauseating cigarette smell coming from Tumi’s boyfriend and his friends who had been smoking.

“You looked the softest” Seun said smiling back at Clara before looking back into his phone.  
It took a lot for her not to laugh especially since she was slightly tipsy, instead she substituted it for grumbling and at one point Seun turned around;

“Madam should I stand up for you?”

Clara hissed, then asked,

“How come I’ve never seen you before?”

“I’m always busy”

“Are you a medical student?”  Clara asked,

“Wait so you think it’s only medical students that are always busy,”

Anyway I studied fine art” Seun said,

Clara giggled,

What’s funny about studying Art?” Seun asked in a slightly irritated tone.

“I thought you were joking.”

Seun turned around, and when his eyes met Clara’s he hissed loudly.

During their short conversation, Clara had felt her feet go numb, but she feared if she asked him to stand, her now favorite scent would be taken from her, and besides she just offended him, I’d bear the pain as a form of reparation, she thought.

It was about 3:00am when her friends decided it was time to leave, and they said their goodbyes, Seun shook clara’s right hand and mouthed a very faint goodnight.

That morning before Clara slept,  she searched the internet for fragrances that might have Seun’s rosy bubble gum scent, and after surfing for two hours straight she locked her phone and went to sleep.

It took Clara two days of intense searching to give up on her bubblegum fragrance hunt, she had tried out a number of fragrances from a perfume store nearby, but none of them matched what she perceived the other night.

It was already days after graduation, and most people were already moving out of their dorms, Clara was in her room sorting out the things she would send home in bits when someone knocked at their door, her roommate Tumi Jumped out of bed to open the door, and as it swung open, Clara perceived a familiar scent.

Tumi’s boyfriend walked into their room and behind him was the man who not only used her as a human seat, but had her obsessing over a particular scent. 

Seun looked different from the night they met, he wore a less serious look. He was laughing at something Tumi said when their eyes met;

“Ahan see my chair from the other night”

Hope you haven’t been out stealing people’s seat”

Clara blushed before  looking away.

“Is that John Kirkland’s Love letters of great men?” Seun asked pointing at Clara’s reading table,

“I don’t know oh, you ask the book freak” Tumi said,

“Did you know it was inspired by sex and the city?”

At first Clara was surprised at how much Seun knew about her favorite book, then she remembered he was an Art major so he was most likely exposed to books like hers.

 Seun went on about the book, and as he spoke, Clara noticed how he adjusted his glasses every minute, even though it had been in place.
“May I” Seun asked.

He walked over to Clara’s end of the room, and sat on the wooden stool that was tucked away underneath her dresser. Almost as close as he was the previous night, his scent got  stronger, and before he asked anymore questions, Clara asked;

“What perfume do you use?”

Seun a bit confused by the question replied;

“I don’t use perfume.”

Clara rolled her eyes and picked up her phone,

“I’m serious, I don’t use perfume,”

But you have a peculiar scent,

“Do you like it?” Seun asked with a coy smile.

Tumi had screamed over something, and when Clara looked over, she saw a huge painting of her roommate leaning on their wall,

“Did you paint that?” she asked, and while he nodded, Seun said;

“Would you like to see some of my other paintings?”


“My dorm”

Clara was noticeably hesitant at first to go with Seun, but after looking over at Tumi and her boyfriend, she picked her bunch of keys that had a pepper spray can as the key holder, put it in her sling bag and walked out with Seun.

They were both silent through out the fifteen minutes walk to Seun’s dorm room,  twice Clara noticed Seun taking quick glances at her, and she put her hand in her bag to check for her pepper spray after every glance.

When they arrived at the door to his dorm, Seun fiddled with his keys before putting it through the keyhole and  once the door opened a slight breeze carrying seun’s bubblegum scent rushed at her, taking a deep breath, Clara felt as though she was taking in a special kind of air.

Seun turned on the lights and Clara was immediately overwhelmed by the collection of art works that spread across his room. There was a piece of art everywhere, paintings hung on his white wall, while some were on the floor leaning on the wall across his room, the only table in his room had tiny carved figurines on it. After looking round the room, Clara sat on the chair behind the small round table and asked;

 “No roommate?”

“He sold his space to me after my work could no longer fit into my side”

“These are really beautiful, but what do you plan to do with all of them?”

“Sell them”

“Gift them”

“Maybe open a gallery”

They were walking around the room when Clara kicked over something, she bent over to  pick it  up. It was a glass jar with a handwritten tag that read;


Clara held the jar high and began to laugh;


“I got it last month from my sister, she just started a fragrance business, I hated it at first but once I got used to it, I was inspired to paint something new, now the smell follows me everywhere”
Clara laughed and said;

“Can I See?”

Seun walked to his bed and pulled out two canvases, both were paintings of beautiful women who seemed to have been captured in a candle lit room, unconsciously Clara began to smile, this was the first time Seun saw her smile, he noticed she had a dimple on just one cheek, and despite how white her teeth were Clara used her hands to cover her mouth every time her smile widened.

Both looking at the paintings, Clara and Seun remained silent, the room, the paintings, and of course Seun’s scent made Clara feel a certain warmth inside, she took another look at the candle jar then with a courage that came with the warm feeling, she turned to Seun and asked; 

“Would you like to go out sometime?”

Twelve years had passed, and she could still feel the warmth that came over her at Seun’s dorm.
Leaving her sister-in-law’s store, Clara got into her car and before she turned on her ignition she removed the candle from its package,and inhaled the scent of the man she loved for over a decade, and as she drove home, she wore a smile remembering the painting of the two beautiful ladies from Seun’s dorm room would be waiting for her to bring home  the scent of their late creator, her late husband.

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