By Shahamat Hussain
It took me four years to realise that it was bad for my health and a further two years of smoking in guilt to quit. Every time I walked out of the office to smoke, I felt depressed – but corporate life is no different either.
I remember having written a poem about it, which had the following portion:
“Every morning when your soul dries out, you step out of that fancy building.
You walk to fill your lungs with smoke.
While you smoke the poison, you see those depressed faces doing the same.
You are a replica of them.
Your life is as blurred as the smoke.
You are dying, aren’t you?”
I recall those days when I had to finish my writing assignments. I would suffer from a writer’s block unless I smoked a cigarette and had a cup of black coffee. Two deadly combinations, literally!
This continued till the night when one of my acquaintances was diagnosed with cancer. I went to donate blood for him. It was ironical because I went there after smoking. The form I filled there had a question on whether I smoked or not. For me, it was like heaven and hell, just to put a tick mark in the box.
After donating blood, I went to meet him. He had turned half the size when I had seen him, the last time. His wife looked worried and miserable.
I picked up Ravish Kumar’s “Ishq Mein Shahar Hona” for him. Wearing a mask, I stayed with them for about 15 minutes and tried to give him hope, because that’s all I could give. The chemotherapy he was undergoing was taking quite a toll on his health. Consequently, I left feeling quite disturbed. I told his wife, “Please let me know if you need any kind of help.” After all, she was waging a lonely battle beside him.
A week passed and I continued smoking. After all, for a smoker, death isn’t much of a fear. Yet, whenever I blew smoke puffs, I counted the minutes I was reducing in my life. I had already wasted six years.
On Eid, however, while sitting with my friends, we got a call from a common friend saying that my friend had been hospitalised again. We rushed to the hospital and saw that he had been admitted to the ICU.
We met his wife and friends. Her wife was wearing a smile, while his friends were chilled. On the other hand, I was dead worried – not just for him, but for myself as well. What if I got into such a situation? What if I needed money for the treatment of cancer and I didn’t have it? What if I died out of pain? I sat at the hospital, fighting my conscience. When I got back home late at night, I knew what I had to do.
I quit smoking. And that’s the best kind of break-up I have done in my entire life. I regret and curse the time when I started smoking out of loneliness. I should have consulted a friend, family or rather, simply talked about my problems.
When I go out with my friends and see them smoking, I simply tell them, “A day will come when you will realise that you should quit. Otherwise, cancer will come and knock you down.” And they all laugh at it – while I smile with the utmost happiness at having given up this grave habit recently.