The title of this novel has gone through many, many reincarnations, before I decided to settle on Scent of Butterflies, which is a strange title, I know. Perhaps it is this strangeness, then, that makes this title my favorite among the titles of all my books.
I bet that you had no idea that butterflies give off all types of scents. But they do. Just ask Soraya, my protagonist, and she will convince you. So much so that from now on, your olfactory cells will twitch and tremble every time you come across a butterfly. Warning: if ever tempted to catch a butterfly to smell it for yourself, make sure you do it gently. Butterflies can easily lose the powdery scales on their wings, which can cause tears in their wings, which in turn will hamper their ability to fly.
In the twenty years it took me to write and rewrite Scent of Butterflies, my protagonist, Soraya, changed, grew, unraveled, and became increasingly obsessed with butterflies. Why? Because the name of her husband’s mistress is Parvaneh, which means Butterfly in Farsi. So as the line between butterflies, the insects, and Butterfly, the mistress became increasingly blurred in Soraya’s mind, she began to plant butterfly friendly trees and plants in her garden to lure butterflies, which she trapped and studied obsessively in hope of learning more about Butterfly, her nemesis, the woman her husband is having an affair with.
Here then, is the scene in the novel that gave birth to the title of the book. Soraya is studying a butterfly trapped in her net: “Unlike experts, I don’t have to go through a series of complicated rituals to detect the characteristics of a scent, the base notes and top notes, lock myself in dark rooms, or blow my nose clean, pinch my nostrils, sprinkle a handkerchief with perfume, and wave it in the air to bring out its gaseous state. No! I don’t need any of these rituals to detect that live butterflies smell different from dead ones. Still alive and active, like the one trembling in my net, they give off the odor of predators, acidic and pungent, similar to the stench of Butterfly’s Chanel No. 5. Reaching into the net, I tenderly rub the butterfly’s fuzzy warmth, caress the throbbing underbelly, stroke the quivering antennae. My forefinger crawls up to tease the erogenous spot on top of her head, the spot the aroused male fondles with his antennae…. Scarcely dead and still supple to my touch, she begins to give off the smell of public baths, humid and cloying and a bit dirty. And now, just this instant, limp and rendered harmless, she emits the bland odor of stale flowers.”
Are you convinced now that butterflies have different smells?
Follow the Rest of the Tour:
Monday, February 2nd: My Book Self
Wednesday, February 4th: Bibliotica
Friday, February 6th: Back Porchervations
Friday, February 13th: Reading and Eating
Monday, February 16th: Chick Lit Central
Monday, February 16th: A Bookish Affair – guest post
Tuesday, February 17th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Wednesday, February 18th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, February 23rd: Bibliophiliac
Friday, February 27th: Shelf Pleasure – guest post
Monday, March 2nd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Tuesday, March 3rd: Too Fond
Thursday, March 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom
TBD: Books a la Mode – guest post
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