The Perfumer and the Beloved of Provence

House with Lavender fields by ~shiftinglight via deviantART

Below Heaven, on top of the World, on top of the Ivory Tower, the Little Boy gazed at the wideness of the Earth and the capacity of it’s inhabitants to do strange things. After all the time that he was incarcerated, a millennium or two, the Little Boy saw that humans, little ants in his field of vision, have the ability to cloud their judgment with an emotion called love. He has seen so many stories about love and how it blinds men and women of everything save what they want to see. He can recount to us all that it’s a pattern, an affliction, a genetic flaw that our species has endured for over 20, 000 years.

Usually, he would only look at a love story and then, turn the other way, for he has memorized the many themes that it could take, especially that of blind love. However, one day, he found an interesting, almost unbelievable tale of blind love that did not involve vision. He found a story about love and how it can also cloud an automatic sense — smell.

As he was gazing at the lavender fields of France, the Little Boy spied on a perfumer. As the wind named Arsine blew from Hautes Alpes, to Provence, and to the Ivory Tower, the Boy smelled the sweet, thin fragrance of lavender being distilled by this man, this perfumer that we’ll learn to call Jean. Jean, named after the great yet deranged Jean Baptiste Grenouille, didn’t dream of making the World’s best perfume; instead, he was set on smelling the scent of love that only the woman of his dreams can emit. We would call him obsessed because he had the best nose to rival any perfumer of his time, but he insists on making only the scent that his love wore on her neck, wrist, and bosom.

This woman, whose sensuous, silky skin smelled of lavender, is named Aimee. She was the beloved in the land of Provence. As a testament of this description, every bird of the woods sang songs that spoke her name. Each blade of grass bowed as she strode through the fields. The maid’s cauldron only bubbled and boiled with bravado when the meal is for Aimee. The fishes leaped into nets as fishermen shouted, “What shall we serve for our beloved, Aimee?” All of Provence toasted because they had Aimee in their midst.

Jean, the Perfumer, knew he stood little chance of getting Aimee’s hand in marriage. He was poor for his refusal to concoct colognes and perfumes that smelled of other things other than lavender. However, he felt hope because Aimee, at the mature age of 24, was still unmarried. She refused to marry for some unknown, untold reason that puzzled her many suitors. As Luck would have it, she was held by an obsession for the smell of lavender because she felt an affinity to the most beautiful and bounteous flower on Provence. She vowed that she’ll only marry the man that can bring her the best perfume with a lavender overtone. This secret was only known to the lavender fields, her usual haunting place whenever her suitors stressed and strained her to succumb.

Thus, Jean continued plucking lavender flowers to satisfy his obsession for Aimee. Aimee continued to lament to the lavenders for the lack of a man that brought the sign that will tell her who to marry. In the middle, the lavender field continued to grow purpler and purpler with anger to the endless massacre and melancholic moping that they endured. Finally, one lavender stalk was struck with stunning idea. “Why don’t we tell Jean that Aimee needs only a vial of the best lavender perfume? That will get both of them off our fields!” A hush, and a wave of excitement swept over the field. “Yes! Yes, we will do that! At first light, at first light, when the Perfumer plucks his pick of flowers, we will tell him this secret of secrets!”

With the decision decided, Jean learnt the secret. Aimee received Jean as her husband, and they lived happily, or so it seems. After a year, the vial of Jean’s perfect perfume was empty, and he needed to make more for his Beloved. To make the situation more stressful, the lavenders also sensed that they are, yet again, at the face of a massacre as they smelt Aimee walking down the path not smelling anything at all near the scent of their purple flowers.

With this new nuisance, they had to produce a plan to stop Jean from plucking them. The same lavender stalk, now more devious than before, devised a plan involving devilry and death. “We have to kill Aimee so that Jean would stop scything and plucking from our field. If we are fortunate, we could also kill him with grief.” The other lavender stalks swayed to and fro with indecision, but the temptation of survival won over saintly sense. “Yes, we shall kill her! Roll her to a ditch and let her be taken away by the stray beasts that blunder in the bushes.” The plan went on flawlessly. As lavenders, they knew how to exude a better aroma than Jean’s distillations. They gave off a scent so irresistible that Aimee, in the middle of the night, slipped silently into the fields, mesmerized by the smell of lavender. Into a ditch she fell without a murmur. She fell, died, and was dragged off by bumbling bear into a winter hole used for hibernation, hidden by shadows and stones.

Morning came, and Jean woke up to an empty bedroom save himself and the furniture. Thinking that Aimee was cooking omelets, he went into the kitchen. Hypothesizing that she went to the hens for eggs, he went into the chicken coop. Thinking that she went into the market for some milk, he marched to the market place, but alas, Provence’ Beloved is missing! Days went on, but there was no sign of Aimee until one day. Jean, exhausted with searching for his wife, sat down, wept, and breathed deeply. As he was inhaling, he was able to smell Aimee from the distance. He smelled the lavender perfume he has concocted even when the source is miles away from him. Now, filled with hope and the thrill of the Hunt, he closed his eyes and raised his nose to the air. He sniffed and snuffed while running and stumbling through fields, forests, and fens. He never opened his eyes for fear that he might loose the scent, the only link that he had to finding his wife.

Ultimately, his superb sense of smell led him to Aimee. He knew because there was no other place that smelled so strongly of his lavender perfume. He smiled, opened his arms, expecting an embrace from his wife. After a minute that felt like a millennium, he wondered why she has not wrapped her arms around him, so he opened his eyes. When Jean saw Aimee, his heart thumped its last beat, broke, and fell silent. He was killed by the sight of his decomposing wife, wreathed with writhing worms, maggots, and murmuring flies. With his blind love for her, he failed to smell the death and decay that surrounded him. He only saw or, in this case, smelled the lavender on her dead body. With all his talent in the art of aroma, he clouded his perception, ignored the suffocating stench, and succeeded in finding his death and his dead wife. As such, Jean fell to the ground as well, and the wind, Arsine, changed the scent it carried.

The Little Boy saw and smelled each scene in this sad story of blind love. As Arsine continued to blow into the windows of the Tower, the Little Boy shook his head, walked away from the topmost window of the Ivory Tower atop the tallest mountain on the top of the World just beneath Heaven.

Originally posted on July 16, 2009 in a previous blog that I had in Blogspot. “The Legend of the Ivory Tower” now rests here.

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