“Want a smoke?” asked my friend Ramesh as we sat in the college cafeteria, many years ago.
“No,” I said, but watched fascinated as Ramesh pulled out a pack of twenty from his shirt pocket, lit a cigarette with a flourish, and holding it expertly between his fingers brought it to his mouth and inhaled deeply. There was a deep philosophical look on his face as he body registered with delight the warm effect of the tobacco smoke filling his lungs He looked at me, a look of absolute contentment, as he slowly exhaled rings and circles from his mouth, nose and ears. I watched fascinated at this spectacle of manhood. Several girls were glancing in his direction, and Ramesh though totally immersed in his own dream world of smoke pleasure, seemed to enjoy the appreciative looks.
“Hi,” I said to Ramesh, as I met him a couple of years later. The packet of cigarettes was still sitting pretty in his pocket and he looked the very epitome of good health. Ramesh looked at me, beckoned me to come alongside, motioned me to on a bench and pulled out a handkerchief which he cleared his throat.
He lit a cigarette and put his briefcase down. “Can’t talk much today,” he muttered, “I’ve got this throat infection. Terrible weather you know, voice is giving me a bit of trouble.”
“Too much pollution,” I said as I watched him inhale the smoke;
“Yes,” he said nodding at the cars and buses, while I looked pointedly at this cigarette, “too much pollution.”
“Come,” I said, “lets walk down the road and have a cup of tea.”
“Walk!” exclaimed Ramesh, looking at me strangely, “who’s got the energy to walk nowadays. Come on let’s take a cab.”
We chatted while having tea, and I found he had a plum job as a marketing manager.
“But I’m changing my job soon. Can’t take the travelling anymore,” said Ramesh drawing in the smoke in his same college style and looking intently at me. Office girls at the next table still ogled the cowboy with the cigarette, but Ramesh I noticed, was too busy clearing his throat and coughing to notice the admiring glances.
Ramesh, I learnt soon left the new job and the next, claiming bad health and a poor constitution as an excuse. I got a call one day and visited him at the government cancer hospital, where he lay pathetically thin and drained out.
Some ward boy had smuggled in a cigarette for him, strictly against doctor’s orders. The nurse rushed in smelling the deadly fumes, Ramesh inhaled the smoke and looked at her wondering why she wasn’t falling for his once macho image. She snatched the cigarette from his weak, thin hand and threw it out of the window.
It was just three lines in the obituary column, that told me the sad news. There wasn’t even a picture of him in the paper for the girls to swoon over..! As I read the obituary sadly, I saw another light a cigarette and stare out of the window: Another Ramesh in the making..!
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2 thoughts on “Goin’ Up In Smoke..!”
It’s so sad to waste money, time and energy on activity so futile, self destructive and destruction of society with passive smoking by a compulsive smoker. I got an order for books from the girlfriend of a smoker for telling him smoking was injurious to his life ?