Lilac is one of my favorite flowers. Its subtle scent brings back sweet memories of my college days. I went to Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea during the late 70's. I chose my alma mater partly because of the beauty of its campus. My liberal-arts college was housed in a stone building covered with Boston ivy. Throughout the spacious campus, with an amphitheatre and several hills, bloomed lilac bushes every May.
Seoul, then and now, is a over-crowded metropolis where trees struggle to survive due to the bad air quality. My family lived on a dusty, commercial street. Throughout my childhood, I craved for greenery. Imagine my joy when I first saw my college campus turning pastel, then green, in my freshman year. (The Korean school calendar starts in March, a legacy of the Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula.)
But it is somehow the lilac flowers that remain most vivid in my memory. It must be its fragrance. The visceral sensations of color, taste, texture, or smell reside in our deepest, dearest memories, haunting us with their sweet and sad associations. Why sad? Because we can never go back to our childhood or youth.