Ever so often in my childhood, the book I carried out of the library was one called ‘Waterbabies’ My heart went out to some of the little children of London whose job it was to clean chimneys. With long broom and ragged clothes and matted hair that also looked like ends of some wicked broom, they were shoved up chimneys to push at stubborn grease and grime and scrape filthy chunks of smelly muck and sludge from unyielding rotting chimney walls.
This morning I saw them again, the chimney sweeps. They were spluttering and coughing and spitting black soot out of their little mouths.
“There’s no more chimney’s to clean, why are you back?” I asked.
“To clean human chimneys,” they said together. “We thought with expertise we had, we’d help, but it is impossible.”
“Impossible!” they all shouted together again.
I looked at the tiny chimney sweeps, their hair matted with filth, their bodies covered with yellowish red blood. “Down which chimneys have you been?” I asked, concerned. “Human chimneys,” their leader said. “We thought we’d help the world today. To clean the stuff your surgeons find impossible to clean, the stuff that’s stuck in throats”
“Of a million smokers…!”
“But we couldn’t,” they cried together.
“They’re worse than the chimneys of London.”
“There’s blood in their throats..”
“In their mouths!”
“There are tumors as big as…”
“Bullfrogs are harmless..” I said lamely
“This bullfrog kills!”
“There are abscesses in lungs..”
“Cancers in mucous membrance…”
“Tumours in throats…”
“Cancers, tumours, everywhere…!”
The tiny chimney sweeps stood with their little brooms, and there was a weariness about them that did not come from work.
“Tell me,” said the leader, brandishing his dirty bloody broom into my face, “when they know that smoke can cause…”
“Why do they smoke?”
I looked at the little chimney sweeps and gathered them into the book again. “Do you know?” they shouted, “that every 30 seconds…”
“Every thirty seconds….” They repeated shrilly.
“A smoker dies of lung cancer? Then why do you smoke? Why? Why?” they cried in anguish.
Listen to the cries of these expert sweeps dear smokers before your chimney throats also get choked to death..!
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