The Scent Of Grass

Penang Botanic Gardens
The grassy slope at Penang Botanic Gardens where I used to scamper around as a kid.

The raw smell of grass – not freshly mowed but one that rises up from the trampling of small feet running all over – always reminds me of the Penang Botanic Gardens. I was five or six then. Dad drove all the way in and parked opposite the Cactus House. On the left was a field that gently sloped upwards from the road. An indentation was dug out from the edge of the slope to make it level with the road. A couple of garden benches occupied that space with their backs facing the steep grass wall that rose up to the field behind them.

I loved scampering all over the slope, chasing after or being chased by imaginary friends. Running up needed some effort but running down was the tricky one. I had to pace my little self else I ran too fast and could not stop when I reached the indent and tumbled over. Dad and Mum sat on the grass and watched me from a distance as I slowly wore myself out from all that activity. Sometimes, if we remembered to bring a beach ball, I would be chasing after it as it rolled down the grassy slope.

When I was totally drenched in sweat and breathless from all that running, Mum called out for me to stop. She was mindful to bring an extra pair of tee shirt and a bottle of water and left them in the car. She made me change out of the soggy shirt that stuck limply to my body. Then she made me drink from the glass cordial bottle that she filled with plain water. I sat with them afterwards, still catching my breath and picking out the pesky love grass seeds that had hooked onto my socks.

The sun was already obscured behind the tall trees. Branches swayed under the evening breeze. My nostrils were filled with the green smell of grass. I blew my nose but it still clung fast. Daylight was fading. It was time to leave. Mum ushered me into the car. The moment the car engine sprung to life, the overpowering smell of petrol choked my olfactory senses, killing all traces of grassiness in my nose but not the memory of the few hours of fun I had there that evening.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

3 thoughts on “The Scent Of Grass”

  1. the parking space at botanical garden still remain unchanged. no improvement at all.

    When I was there last month, I saw that the car park has been enlarged and they were charging RM1 per car. However, the place was not tarred yet and full of gravel.

  2. The soggy sweaty clothing reminded me of the days when I was in Form 1 and 2. We played football and basketball before school started. My uniform was wet before 1PM. Looking back now, I was surprised that I was able to focus on studying with soggy clothing.

    We left the sweaty sports for PE periods in the evenings. I was in the afternoon school and we usually brought tee shirts for these activities. Before school, we were more into kali toi.

  3. Earliest recollection of the botanic gardens was being chased by monkeys when our kindergarten class went there for a visit!We were pint sized and the monkeys were about three quarters of what we were! It was scary!!

    They are still as menacing as ever. Some things never change.

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