Pleasure PhD_ Sensory exploration….Taste & Smell

Photo by Billy Hani

“Can I get your back?” They ask.  You gleefully oblige, handing them the jar of shea butter.  Kissing your neck, they warm the butter between their palms and when they settle those palms on your back, it feels like moisturization and love.  They bend and go beyond your back to spread the extra shea butter around your hips. Bending over gently, they kiss the small of your back. You sit in front of your dressing mirror, teacup in hand, covered in love. Blissful, warm, cozy, physically satisfying pleasure. 

You cannot help but notice that they smell like sweat, traffic and exhaust fumes. 

“Goddamn babe! What happened to you?” 

You ask them without really wanting a response. Gently you turn them around, walking them out of the bedroom, towards the bathroom.

“Stinkydoodoo, you need to go cleanup because you are not about to be in this room smelling like Accra. And I do not mean Cantonments!” 

“Fuck you!”

“You’d like to!”

You return to your seat in front of your mirror to finish covering your skin with the thick butter from the shea fruit. Alum-free deodorant in your armpits with a mild lavender smell. A few spritz of Scent of Africa behind your ears and in the dip between your collarbones. Taking a whiff of yourself, you smell like bewitchment. Delicious!

They step out shortly from the shower smelling like sunshine.

            “Come here babe.”

“Now you want me?”

“This is a very, veryyyy, veryyyyy, conditional arrangement we have,” you taunt.

“Fuck you times two.”

“Hey at least you’ll be fucking me clean,” you wink. Tea cup in hand. 

“Are you hungry?” 

You nod as the peppermint glides down your throat. 

“Too bad this Accra… smelling…stinkydoodoo brought your personal juju…”

            “CONDENSE TOFFEE?” you ask, eyes agape!

“Yuhp!” You hear the pettiness in their voice. “But since you decided to be an ass, this Accra… smelling…stinkydoodoo will not… In fact your lactose intolerant ass should not even be eating this shit!”
            “Please babe…”

“Double… triple… NO quadruple FUCK YOU!” They smack your ass. You jump. You both laugh.

“But I still want the condense okay. I mean it is not as sweet as you.”

“Eiii rap doctor! Barz for days!”

The thought of milky goodness from condensed milk toffee dissolving on your tongue as it glides down your throat into your belly is satisfying except, the milky goodness is in reach. Their reach. The milkiness is a tease. They are choosing to taunt you. They know how much you like this. The toffee. How much you like them. You have a bottle of Lactaid dedicated specifically for when you binge on the chewy straws of condensed milk toffee. The best ones are always sold in traffic by hawkers. In little see-through plastic containers with lids. Blue, red, and sometimes white. You have to keep the windows up when you drive around town to keep from spending your money. Somehow you always succumb to the beckons of hawkers. Their voices preaching the toffee to be a bit of the milk and honey the bible talks about. If heaven had a taste, this would be it. Pleasure explosions on your taste buds. 


“Bribe me.”

You lean into their ear and whisper something . With a smirk on their face, they take your hands and lead you to the kitchen. There is indeed evidence that they had made you the peppermint tea. The same you saw on your vanity after your shower. 

            “Thank you for the tea babe.”

On the kitchen counter is a mid-sized plastic tub of condensed milk toffee. Next to it is some beef jollof rice. You touch the black plastic container with the food and it feels a little cold. You throw it in the microwave. It is time to take care of your partner. 

“Sit down babe.” 

Piece of candy in your mouth, you lean in to kiss their lips. Slipping your tongue in their mouth so they taste the milky goodness dissolved on your tongue. Sharing is indeed caring. 

‘Beep! Beep!’ You smell the cubed pieces of African spice-infused beef glorify the grains of rice it is buried in. You take a bite. Remnant sweetness leading the spice into your throat makes your belly feel like for a second, you are in a five star restaurant. 

It seems like the landlord had the grass cut today. Fresh air through the kitchen window wafts through carrying the satisfying aroma of fresh vegetation to you and them. The rains have stopped so it does not smell like the sea or salt as much. The air conditioner is off. There is enough air… fresh air. Your lungs take in the rare clean Accra air through your nostrils. It takes in the wafts of post-shower freshness from your partner, the cloves, ginger and garlic medley from your meal; your lungs take in the little pleasures around you. 


“Foolish mosquito!”

“That’s what you get for looking and probably tasting THIS good,” you taunt. 

They roll their eyes at you as you stoop down the bottom kitchen cabinet to grab some dried orange peels from a black polythene bag. A little piece of palm kernel fiber as your kindle, you slowly burn the dried orange peels. 

‘This should keep those bastards away.”

“Chief village girl! You dier, you have remedies to everything.”

 “Yes me this!”  

Slowly the space begins to smell like an orchard. Pleasant. You take the lead to the room to light up some Santo Paolo. The woody/citrus smell from its smoke cleanses the air. It also drives away evil, you’ve heard. You take off the cloth across your chest as you get ready for bed. Your partner walks in and hugs you from behind. Their face, directly between your right shoulder and neck. They inhale you deep. They hold you tighter. 

‘This your for girls juju you’ve done me eh?”

“I know!” You both laugh as they kiss the place their head lays. You make your way into bed. 

“Good night!” You say to them. But not without a taste of each other’s mouth. 


 Your phone says it is 4am. You smell something sweet in your dream. Rolling over half-asleep, you sleep-talk to your partner.

‘That’s bread”

“There is a bakery in the area.”

Singular notes of vanilla, nutmeg, sugar, margarine, and warmth flying into a pleasant olfactory chord in your nostrils. You smile in your sleep. It smells like god is making vanilla-flavored custard just for you. You can already taste the divinity as you drift back into sleep. 

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