Rolled Monk

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Statutory Warning: Smoking Kills.

In Singaara Chennai! on April 11, 2014 at 1:42 am

People say that the memory of their first love is the most vivid. The first time your hand brushed slightly against theirs’; the first time you stole a kiss when they weren’t paying attention or vice-versa; the first time one of you mustered up the courage to actually say those magical three words; and so on. Thus, as we can see, within this first love itself, there are so many firsts. This story here too, since I am writing after millennia, can be construed as the first story here. But unfortunately, I have no experience with love and after writing a paragraph on it I must not let those words go to waste. Therefore I will tell you about the first time I smoked a cigarette (for those who haven’t understood, the implication here is that I love cigarettes. Please see the blog name. Thank You. ).

Before I get on with the actual story though, let me take a moment to explain one fact to the non-smokers out there. Every smoker has two first cigarettes. To avoid confusion, let’s call the first first one the zeroth one. This zeroth cigarette, is kind of like that girl you had a crush on in class 7. Factually speaking, I think (think is the key word here, not factually. That’s just there to make this sentence paradoxical.), smoking and love are very similar. It starts out with curiosity that grows into good fun and over a period of time you cannot live without it and later you cannot live with it for you may get cancer and die.

My zeroth cigarette was in class 9. My dad had hidden a carton of Dunhills somewhere in the house and I managed to find it. I waited for the right opportunity, flicked a smoke and went to the terrace. I was stealthier than a counter-terrorist trying to deactivate a bomb in CS and it paid off. After ensuring that I was not being followed or spied upon by aunties from neighboring flats, I lit the cigarette and smoked… and to my surprise, I didn’t cough or in fact I didn’t feel anything. I smoked almost half of it, put it out and left for home with a bitter taste in my mouth wondering what made people smoke? It seemed useless to me at that time.

Later when I smoked my first cigarette, I learnt that I had been mouth-fagging (no pun intended): which means that I was not breathing in the smoke and just holding it in my mouth before blowing it out . Since I never had anyone teaching me how to smoke and the internet penetration (to quote some of my profs., “How will people know you are an MBA, if you don’t use jargon?”), wasn’t as good as it is now, it took me quite a while to figure out what got people addicted to cigarettes. Thus the zeroth cigarette, exists only in your memory; not in your lungs.

My first cigarette came almost a year later after my class 10 board exams. It was that time in a student’s life where he feels he has achieved something for the first time. Not like the kids today, who get grades and cannot compare marks to make themselves or the other person feel like a loser or worse can opt out of the exams completely.

A friend of mine and I go to a shop nearby, buy 2 Gold Flake Kings and come back to my house (BTW, the shopkeeper knew us. The smokes were for the friend’s dad. We were underage and looked it). We sneak back up to the terrace and watch the sunset as he lights the first of the two cigarettes. We were still mouth-fagging when accidentally, I swallowed the smoke. My lungs, not used to the love of cigarette smoke rejected it vehemently and I ended up coughing severely with tears falling from my eyes.

But as I recovered from the cough, I felt a wild rush in my head. I was hit. I was high on nicotine for the first time in my life and it was wonderful. Slowly and steadily we finished the remainder of the cigarettes teaching each other and bettering our smoking technique. I understood why people bought cigarettes again and again. What got them addicted to smoking was clear to me and cancer or not, I wanted it.

Fate though had other plans. In our excitement we had forgotten ourselves and the place we were in. We were caught by some aunty in the apartment who had come to the terrace to pick up clothes and were handed over to our parents. My mom went berserk as usual and after several acts of violence, made me promise in front of the Gods in our house that I will never smoke again.

I promised and  stayed true to my word for almost  two-and-a-half-years. By that time, I got into college and stopped believing in God.