Sunday, June 11, 2017

An Ode to Cigarettes

(though not in the literary format of the device that an ode is - you know just in case you were expecting that I actually learnt any real skills in my BA. )



This has been a year of quitting smoking. I never thought I would be able to do it - the guilt, the shame of lying to my parents, my yellowing teeth, falling hair and worst of all the complete inability to take a dump without a cigarette. It was so gross - I must be the last person on this planet who does not take her phone into the loo and yet, I have inhaled poo particles with the sweet, killing scent of tobacco. It is probably my only achievement in the last couple of years - I haven't smoked in 162 days !! If I calculate the amount of money I have saved - it is nearly 13000 Rs !! I can't actually remember the cost of chhoti goldflake, but even then this is quite a bit of money for an unemployed person to be spending killing herself.

But I still don't think it's worth it. Unlike my friend Nishant who said that once you've managed to go without nicotine for a couple of weeks, it gets so much easier and you start hating the smell of cigarettes - I stand in my balcony precisely twice a day because I have figured out that the unknown person in the apartment downwind from mine smokes in his/her balcony at particular times. So no Nishant, I don't "hate it" now ! You goddamned liar !

Cigarettes are better than all other forms of nasha in my opinion. I don't really drink because it doesn't taste good, tequila is expensive and I would hate to lose it infront of other people. So I would drink maybe once a year and like a party girl trope in a frat boys movie (which I am so unlike that it is really funny how I imbibe the stereotypical behavior) I do shots :|

I don't even smoke up - because mostly people are smoking up in the outdoors and I get superbly sleepy when I smoke up and having to walk back to find a bed is such a chore.I remember being really high once and then having to drive back to my apartment - it was fucked up.  Plus I am always afraid that I will fart or drool or fall asleep or some truth I have not realized and successfully repressed shall escape its tightly confined domain. So no - while the effects are enjoyable, I am not physically made for smoking up in public.

Cigarettes were my friend. I had  so many routines attached to smoking ! You could enjoy it with the least bit of discomfort with the exception of killing yourself. I used to smoke so much when I had work or exams and after every cigarette break I would feel amazingly recharged and filled with the nervous disposition of what I imagine a crack addict displays. They were low maintenance (though more expensive than anything else) and they relieved my stress - no matter how much someone screams in my face that is all psycho somatic, I don't buy it for a second. I remember smoking non stop during the final month of writing my dissertation - I let go of all illusions of poverty and literally smoked cartons. I remember having constant headaches and my keyboard filled with ashes and me surviving on nothing except Nestle Ice Tea. That is the closest I shall ever come to living the wolf of wall street frenzied high stakes life.

But now I've quit and I stand in balconies breathing in the smell of someone else's cigarettes. During the first month of quitting, I remember distinctly walking behind people who were smoking in the market so I could passively imbibe. The creepiness that I have displayed since quitting smoking is unparalleled.

I don't even know what I will do when I meet friends now. I am glad that I don't meet people so often because what do people who don't smoke do when the conversation lags and you're not hungry enough to order food. Half my walking around was because of the need to go look for a guy who sells cigarettes or finding spots where others won't judge you for smoking. Now when I get into an auto after my train reaches Delhi, I don't look out to find a little thela that sells cigarettes. My family can visit me whenever they want because there is no stashing involved and no mad dashes to sneak money into my palm innocuously while going down to see my parents off and praying that the shop at the corner won't be closed. I was good friends with a guy and we met in the park outside my house because he doesn't like to smoke alone and my cigarette guy wouldn't often have gold flakes - we haven't met since I quit because what is the point now ? How do you bear the boring conversation ? The judgement you could level at people for smoking ultra milds and hating them for their choices when you had to bum cigarettes from them ... the wait to find someone you could borrow a cigarette from when you had run out and the shops were either too far or closed. And lastly, all the nice pan wala bhaiyas who knew which cigarette 'madam' smoked and also knew that near the end of the month I would be buying literal cancer from them in the form of 30 Rs Liberty Flakes. Yes I have smoked 3 Rs cigarettes and have lived to see the rates climb from 20 to 30 and felt it more keenly than most. I have seen myself descend from smoking Classic Milds (when I started you could buy them for 5 bucks a piece) and come down to smoking cigarettes self respecting panwaras don't stock - like Win and Goldflake Star and of course Liberty Flake. I remember when Rohit and I would drive all the way to this flyover in Lucknow and furtively smoke 5 or 6 cigarettes and then go all the way to Fun to buy coffee worth a couple of packets of smokes to hide the evidence of our crime. It is also why he has gone home lathered in my perfume. I have abused Carrie Bradshaw more for stubbing out barely smoked cigarettes than her general unbearable annoying-ness- and I know the pain of watching someone smoke on screen when you've run out and it's 4 in the morning and the world might as well be dead for the injustice of it all. During the last couple of years when I was buried under the weight of overwhelming depression, there were days when I have only stepped out because I had to get cigarettes and the guy delivering wouldn't deliver. I have lived without food at times - but never without cigarettes.

So yes, I miss smoking. I miss it like I don't even miss sugar during crazy diets. My sense of accomplishment at the only thing I feel is going on for me is lost in my want for all my old routines and the sweet sweet placebo effect of self destruction.


Princess Chelsea


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