A Smoky Serenade


When I was small, there used to be a commercial on TV that went something like- “A cigarette in my hand, I felt like a man”, I never really understood why. I never smoked a single puff of cigarette all my life and felt just fine.

This was until 3 August, 2014 when I smoked my first stick of cigarette at the age of 28 years. It was in Kolkata. It had just stopped raining and it was surprisingly cool in Kolkata even in mid summer. Breeze after breeze of cool humid wind was blowing across the streets. The sky was painted in a tint of yellow with the evening sunlight through the polluted atmosphere above the city which turned the whole ambience of the city with it. I had just arrived and was feeling oblivious. The hustle and bustle, the never ending queue of people walking. The honking of cars. For someone coming from a rather quiet place, all these would be overwhelming and I was no exception. The spirit of the city started to overcome me. She lit the cigarette, took a drag and handed it over to me. I drew my first puff, the chaos of the city was doubly. The confusion got the better of me. I felt cornered. She just said relax and told me to take a few deep breaths. Then she offered me another puff. I took an easy one this time. It wasn’t that bad. I could do this. More confident this time and the next and soon I was like a railway engine. My rudimentary days were behind me now. I loved to hold the cigarette between my thumb and index finger and the heat of the red hot tip near my palm felt nice. By now I was questioning myself why did I keep myself away from this feeling of deiform. The obscurity of my mind vanished just like the mist that lifts from the hilltops leaving the scenic view even more vivid, back where I am from. My thoughts were clear. I could think in so much more detail now. A sort of micro carnival in my head. This had not happened to me in a long time. The listless city had suddenly come to life, or was it just me?

My friend was astonished and delighted to learn that I had started to smoke. We took long strolls up and down the winding narrow roads which ran like veins throughout the small town with a lit cigarette in our hands and as we walked, I would imagine us to be as the nicotine that was flowing through our own veins. The similarity between the large and the small always did fascinate me, the solar system and the structure of atoms, and the likes of it. I felt my elbow and knee joints loosen as I puffed breath after breath of the poison. Five minutes, they told that each cigarette reduced from my life, how on earth did they know how long would I live?
From the moment I light a cigarette I feel bad that it’s minutes that this refuge will last. I almost mourn it. Almost like this life. We have hopes and dreams as though we are immortal. Why are we hell bent to convince ourselves that we will last forever? Why are we such nonsense?

My room Tonight.
It’s 2:30 am and I’m not asleep yet. I feel like a cigarette but don’t have any with me. The room is speaking to me, and not kind words. The ticking wall clock, whose ticks and tocks are ever ever so loud at the dead of this silent night telling me that that with each tick and tock, I’m nearing my death. “What have you done in life to be remembered by? Where do you stand? Were you a good son, a good friend or as such, a good person?” The volley of questions just doesn’t stop. I always thought I was a sapient one but not anymore. Somebody please quiet them. It is irrefragable that I am addicted to cigarettes now. If only I had a cigarette. It was true, when I have a cigarette in my hand, I do feel like a man.

Life has been trying to talk to me, but in some foreign language. Cigarette has just become that interpreter.



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