Under the Sway of of Smoke

It is funny how seemingly small things can end one’s Vision and Mission on earth in smoke.

I took to smoking again about 6 months back after  more than 21 years. During the last 6 months, I quit the habit a few times and resumed as many times.

When it comes to smoking I tend to take to it full blast or not at all. How about some moderation, Babu? Why do you have to abuse even a bad habit? Why do you treat cigarettes as you approach your lovers – fully engaged or not at all?

What an irresponsible, stupid comment I have made there! Better be careful about my languaging, and not justify the indefensible. It is not sensible to compare my approach to lovers and cigarettes. One if life giving and the other is life threatening.

Coming back to smoking, I wonder how I gave it up without too much of problem a few times. Giving up was difficult for a day or two, but then I dumped the habit a few times. But I embraced the habit again and again, at times out of the urge to smoke, sometimes I convinced myself that I was frustrated enough to justify succumbing to the temptation. And because of that one moment of weakness, I saw myself asking the cigarette vendor for a pack of cigarettes – Benson brand. I felt helpless and like a man beaten whenever those words escaped my mouth – every day.

So, on 17th Jan, at 9.35 am I removed the 5 remaining cigarettes from the pack and lined them up neatly on my palm. Then I stared at the cigarettes for a long while. Long enough for many thoughts to flash through my mind.

Those cigarettes represented my failure to give up the habit for good. Every time I smoked, it was an admission that I was not strong enough to stand firm. Every cigarette was a defeat subconsciously.

I also saw the faces of my family members most of whom were too kind not to voice their feelings and some of the younger crowd who were vociferous that I immediately give up smoking. I saw Anusha and my lover grieving in a worst case scenario.

I saw myself being beaten again again by this urge for instant gratification. And how what used to be a deeply ingrained habit, was raising its dirty hoods again.

Smoking gave me opportunities for seeking shelter in the very brief, gaseous solace of smoke instead of finding it inside myself.

If one unhealthy habit is consciously allowed to take root, it spreads its tentacles, attracts other similar habits and then corrodes goodness from within, little by little. In life everything is holistic. Everything is connected. One good adds goodness to the entire system and one bad corrodes similarly.

Around 9.40 am that day, I again looked at the cigarettes and broke them all in the middle. And threw them in a deliberate, calm manner, into the waste paper basket in my room. I felt good.

I won – one more time than I lost. I know that was a private victory which will endure. To keep me winning again.

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