BRIDGEPORT, CT – Abhimanyu Dutta, 10, is disgusted by the smell of cabbage soup. He learned this fact about himself when sent over to his next door neighbor’s house to borrow a cup of sugar.
Late yesterday afternoon Nirupa Dutta, Abhimanyu’s mother, was in her 6th hour in the kitchen. She was about to start making a tomato chutney when she realized that they were out of sugar. She called out to Abhimanyu to run over to their neighbor’s and ask for a cup of sugar.
Said Abhimanyu, “I was in my room drawing Batman when I heard my mom yell my name. I ran down to the kitchen, she handed me a bowl and asked me to go next door to ask for some sugar. I walked out the front door with a sense of purpose.”
As he walked toward their neighbor’s house, he noticed that behind the screen door, their front door was open. “I didn’t think anything of it at first. Most people here have screen doors to let the breeze in when it’s nice outside. But as I got closer to the front door, I noticed an odd smell.”
It was an odd smell that he had never smelled before. “I rang the doorbell and waited at the front door. Then hair on the back of my next started to prickle. By the time Roza answered the door, I was sweating.”
Roza Maszkow said she was cooking a traditional cabbage soup at the time: “Kapusniak is a family favorite for me and Stanislas. Our grandchildren were coming over for dinner and when I was a kid, my grandmother made it for me. I love the smell of the soup going all through the house!”
But Abhimanyu thought differently. “I don’t know what it was but I’d never smelled anything like it. It wasn’t like garbage or dead squirrel but it made me gag. I tried holding my breath but the problem is when you let the breath go you have to take in an even deeper breath. That’s worse. And I couldn’t avoid the smell through mouth breathing either.”
It took Roza over two minutes to get some sugar and put it in the bowl. “It felt like forever,” said Abhimanyu. “I edged towards the front door to get some fresh air but there was none coming in. Somehow the soup smell was denser than oxygen and keeping the fresh air out. Then I noticed Mr. Maszkow sitting in a chair looking at me. I think he was just sitting there. He wasn’t holding a book or watching tv. It was weird and I forgot about the smell for a moment.”
When Mrs. Maszkow returned with the sugar, Abhimanyu bid a hasty goodbye and rushed outside. “I was back on the sidewalk before I felt like I was breathing fresh air again. I looked back at their front door, where Mrs. M was standing and smiling. The door looked wavy like when people are in a desert in movies. I’ve seen my American friends come over to our house and sometimes make a face while saying What’s that smell? But I’ve never noticed them gag.”
Upon returning with the sugar, Abhimanyu went back to his room and resumed drawing. He invented a new superhero whose costume includes a gas mask.