Love, Bunkers & Childhood Memories

Childhood memories are special. Not because they are innocent. But because of the way in which they are engrained in our memory: innocently.

I have two memories before the age of 3. Both are as vivid as yesterday. The first is of my paternal grandmother’s house. The yellow walls. The oversized verandah. The huge papaya tree.

And the second is of our family bunker. Yes, bunker. I was born in Tellepallai, Jaffna in 1986 and lived there until I was 4. The war that plagued the country for 16 years from 1983 to 2009 was in full swing during my formative years. So bunkers in my toddler neighbourhood were as common as… little blue bins today.

The bunker doesn’t foster memories of war or soliders or bloodshed. Instead the bunker and its smell remind of me of love, of family, of laughter and of togetherness.

And my washroom here in Korea? It smells** like a bunker. I’m not reminded of the war or helicopters circling overhead… or the sounsd of bombs dropping. Instead, I’m reminded of my family, of laughter, of love… and of being together.

Yes, homesickness is in full swing. Because of my washroom. That smells like a bunker. Go figure.

**The smell of a bunker, to me (and the way I remember it) is this really strong earthy smell. I love it almost as much as I love the smell of gasoline. Maybe a tad bit more. It’s one of those smells you either hate or love. Or learn to love. And why does my washroom smell like contained earth? I’m guessing it’s because it’s not insulated. And it’s made of stone and bamboo. I may or may not have made all that up. Or made an educated guess. I have an undergrad and half of an MBA. You decide how educated that is.

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