Goodbyes are not easy. Try saying it to cigarette smoking especially after you have been doing it for the last 14 years. A famous saying goes ‘Quitting cigarettes is easy. I have done it many times.’ But then there are times you just know that the relationship is not working anymore, a permanent strain has developed. Not just you but even the cigarette realises it and both parties amicably call off their relationship.
My friendship with cigarettes started on a rough note. While in undergraduate college, there was considerable moral friction before I got into habit of smoking. Cajoling from friends and inspiration from movies played their own part. The internal struggle with cigarettes started as soon as I started smoking. It was as if they could never take the place of a loyal wife, they always stayed a mistress and hence were prone to moral scrutiny. Slowly, like a skilled mistress, they made a regular place in my life. And I became, among many students, a trip-taker to the closest cigarette shops on the campus.
There are two aspects to smoking. One is of course what it does to the health. Other is the positives it brings. ‘The Economist’ recently called it the ‘biggest cause of preventable disease in the world’. Hazards of smoking are well known, major among them being cancer. Even the smoke packets make it very clear with the dirty pictures of afflicted lungs and throat. Still why do so many people smoke? There must be strong reasons that cigarette smoking has been increasing in many parts of the world. I am not advocating in favour of cigarettes, just saying a nice goodbye to a long-time friend here!
One thing for sure is that smoking makes you many good friends. If you can share a cigarette, you share a soul, however dirty the cigarette might be making it. Sometimes one cigarette would pass through five chattering mouths. Community smoking not only brings those smoking closer but in my opinion heats up the conversation. A smoker is in a way a romantic, smoking, knowing very well the consequences of it. The shared knowledge of such chivalry breaks certain barrier in a conversation and lets it to be more open. It is like one meets people at adventure trips and the conversation one could fall into with strangers just because all of you are doing this adventurous thing.
Cigarettes give you regular company. Imagine you have just finished watching a movie like ‘Godfather’ and wish to go out and talk to somebody about it. The movie has stimulated a part of your nerve which hardly gets stimulated while reading for competitive exams or talking to friends. But it is 2 a.m. and others are busy. Who would come to your rescue! It’s that thin cylindrical piece of nature which you can light and sit like Michael Corleone, maybe mouth few dialogues to yourself and then think of how beautifully the movie was made. Try this without the cigarette and see for yourself how everything falls off in a matter of seconds. This is a small example. The company of a cigarette can extend to your work, when you need a break from writing. There is something fulfilling about smoking one and getting back to what you were doing. It could just be the adrenaline rush!
I have innumerable stories with cigarettes, just like any other smoker. Unless you get your lungs checked, they all seem interesting. Recently, though the goodwill had stopped. It’s no more interesting to smoke. The mistress had been laying a stake at becoming a wife, asking for more time and you know, lungs. I did try to increase but after a certain extent, you can’t, hence this amicable divorce. Interestingly yesterday I visited the Nescafe stall at the campus. It was a habit sometime back where you would get a cigarette to smoke along with the coffee. When I sat down with the coffee, the stall owner called me and asked me if I was alright? I replied I had stopped. He seemed to be the happiest man in the world. Who knows what history he may have had with this dangerous mistress.