Talcum powder did perfectly well for most people for many years. Then they did some research and came up with aerosol-waale deodorants. Then they did some more research and found out that talcum powder causes lung cancer.
They still did not get invited to cool parties, so they spent their weekends doing more research and found that deodorants cause lymph node cancer. Without research, they knew that not using either would cause considerable collateral damage. So now we’re stuck in a happy situation, aren’t we?
Why am I ranting about this subject? When I entered office this morning, the smell of Cuticura talcum powder hit me instantly.
(Change of tint to sepia and tone to nostalgia)
It brought back memories of the only person I knew who used it. Nana. Ma’s Pa.
The orange and white tin cylinder of talcum powder stood before the half mirror on a shelf. You could either stand on you toes and reach out for it (you being 5 years old), or climb the extraordinarily high bed and access it. The box was coated with an invisible layer of smooth powder, and smelled like heaven.
Nana was obsessive about tidiness, so the powder-coating was minimal, and the box would not slip out of your clumsy hand. You could sit on the bed sniffing the box and probably shake some talcum out on to your palm and apply it. No matter how hot the summer was, talcum always felt cool.
Above the mirror, there was a yellowed strip of paper that said in red letters: “There is only one religion: The religion of Love”.
Nana saved every bit of paper or string or cigarette pack he ever owned (insanity runs in the family). There was barely space to walk in his room. It was like a curio shop. And it smelled of Cuticura.
Nana passed away many years ago. I know him mostly through my mother’s stories of him. But Cuticura is a first-hand memory.