Her name is Nelofar, and she is my cousin and my best friend. She had a love marriage, rare in Afghanistan. One day I asked her how much she loved her husband. Nelofar said, “I love him so much that I can feel him near me right now.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, because her husband was nowhere near her; in fact he was not in the country.
She looked at me, smiling, and answered with three words: “By his smell.” I started laughing out loud. Then she explained and I listened as if she were telling me a fairytale.
“Every time I pass the flower shop on my way to work, the smell of the flowers reminds me of him and I stand there feeling how close he is to me right now, how sweet he is and how wonderful he is.”
She looked at me, knowing I was wondering if she meant all the flowers, but she immediately added: “The smell of jasmine and the smell of red roses mixed together somehow it gives you the smell of… um… sweet honey. And you can never have enough of that smell.”
Nelofar had those two flowers on her dining table where we were sitting; I tried to smell the sweet honey, but the only thing I smelled was jasmine. “Every time I pass that flower shop, I stand there for almost two minutes, smelling it and feeling him close to me,” she went on. “The smell of jasmine reminds me of the day we first met. I was sitting in a park and there were a lot of jasmine bushes. He sat next to me near the bushes. He began to smell like jasmine, and he had the smell on him the next morning too. The next few weeks when we met, he brought me red roses with jasmine flowers around the red roses—he knew I love jasmine a lot—and the funny thing is that these two flowers combined to make the smell of sweet honey. When we got married and I got closer to him, he actually had the scent of sweet honey. Now that he is away, every time I pass the flower shop I stand there and smell the scent and it reminds me of how we met, every time we spent together, every second we cherished, every word he said, his every touch, his every kiss.”
I looked at her and I saw how she was lost in her story and I let her enjoy her daydream. Then I called her name, but she didn’t answer me; she was gone in thought, looking at something in midair. I clapped my hands in front of her face so hard, Nelofar jerked out of her chair, and we laughed. The rest of the day went by just like a blink of an eye. Suddenly Nelofar reached for her heart and started breathing fast. I was frightened and didn’t know what to do. I reached for her hand and she looked up at me and said, “He’s … he’s here.”
“How do you know?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I …I … I can feel him. He is here ….” Nelofar started breathing faster now, and I didn’t know what to do. Then she got on her feet and ran to open her apartment door and there he was standing in his black suit. He was not so tall, his black hair was combed and he looked clean. I decided to give them some privacy.