Perfume the book: When Jean-Baptiste Grenouille came to the village



Rumors had been going around for days, about a man who had come to the village. Some of the villagers said that he is a writer because of the way he disappears in a crowd, leaving them unaware of his whereabouts, while others said he was a ghost because of his tendencies to roam around the village during the night when the place falls quiet.

It was Eduardo del Mar who told me he was a perfumer. We were sitting on the tree again, watching the villagers go about their day when he told me how sailing the seas had opened up his senses, “and Madeliene, that man smells of obsession ­— the feeling, not the Calvin Klein perfume.”

Once the villagers learned what the man did, there was an air of expectancy that permeated the groves of the cobblestone streets and the veins of the wooden benches in the piazza. The woman who hides her smiles with her scarves waited to find a jasmine scent that would remind her of winter afternoons eating jasmine pannacotta with the one whom she mourns every day and Fermina Daza hoped she could find the scent of eggplants in a bottle.


“I smell a loner,” was the only thing the flower hoarder said when I made a comment about the new man in town. We all waited for him to set up shop but with his coat collar held up and his hands in his pockets, all the man did was walk around, avoiding us. That is when we started to sense disgust permeating the village.

Every time he was around, the sky turned into a cheap grey and the groves of the cobblestone streets held the dirt of a thousand years. Everything looked base — our food, our houses, ourselves. We were quite helpless for a while, that is until the novelty of his presence wore off, then most of the villagers forgot about him.

Although things have turned dreamy again, I can still sense a faint of disgust all through the village. It seems that the perfumer is set to stay here for a while, trying to be irrelevant as the violinist is and as secluded as the flower hoarder.

Story credits: Patrick Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer for the quote and the inspiration; Skirt Vero Moda, similar HERE; Knitwear Zara sold out, similar HERE.

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