“Cigarette in my Hand, I felt like a Man ----------- I was a dead Man”
This song, issued in the Public Interest, was one of my favorite Songs on TV. Those days, there was no Cable Television. We used to watch the one and only Channel, on TV – Doordarshan. I was around 13, then. Though I liked this song to the core, I used to Hate Smoking / Smokers. Have had quite a lot of tough times, when I used to travel in those KSRTC Red colored buses to my village, where invariably 50% of the folks, used to smoke, on board the bus.
I was studying in class 8th and I was an NCC Cadet. I’ve attended a few camps in my 4 year association with NCC. During one of those camps, I started interacting with a few of my seniors who used to smoke at the Zeroth hour. Well, I was forced to smoke on quite a few occasions, but I was pretty stubborn and I was pretty sure that I’ll never have the so called, Energy Stick in my Hand. Yeah, that is the phase when I still used to hate smoking. With quite a lot of my friends / seniors being smokers, my hatred for Smokers gradually faded away. Smoking was still an alien.
I was in my Class 10th. It was the Maha Shivarathri Day. As usual, I, along with a few of the vaThaara boyz thought of venturing out in the night, on the pretext of JaagaraNe. Finally, 4 of us (Me, Raghu, Prasanna, Manju) started on our Bicycles towards Kamakya Tent (Now a TheatreJ). It was around 10PM. The movie was scheduled to start at 11:30PM. We reached the venue, only to find that there was a big queue to buy the tickets. None of us had the patience to stand / wait in a queue. Not knowing what to do, we came out and thought of having some Coffee / Tea. That is when; Prasanna enticed Manju (kuLLa Manju) for a Challenge. The conversation went something like this:
Prasanna: “Maga kuLLi, 1du challenju: Neenu 1du cigarette poorthi sedhidre, ninge naanu innooru rupaayi, koDtheeni”.
(kuLLi alias kuLLa Manju was the eldest in the gang; a good 2 years elder than the rest of us. We always suspected kuLLi to be a smoker, considering his contacts / friends. On a few occasions, I had even asked him, whether he smokes. His answer was: NO, always. Prasanna was waiting for an opportunity to trap kuLLi and he seized this opportunity).
KuLLi: Waah, magane, nin hathra innooru rupaayi ello barutthe, elli, thorisu, noDoNa.
Prasanna: Sisya, ivatthu thane manay nalli Pocket money koTro, nodu (Showed 2 notes of 100. kuLLi’s eyes brightened. Well, twas a known fact that Prasanna used to steal a lot of money @ home. On quite a few occasions, Prasanna’s parents who happened to be Doctors’ had told me that Prasanna has resorted to stealing @ home. So, it didn’t come as a surprise to us. Also, Prasanna was a big financier for us all. He used to treat us all with Pani puri etc, everyday, for close to two years:-). Obviously, we had a great deal of respect for him:-)).
KuLLi: Kesvaa, Raghu; Maklaa, neevibre idakke saakshi.
Keshava and Raghu: Sari kaNLaa (In chorus with a true victorious smile:-)).
Prasanna: Magane, poorthi cigarette sedhbeku.
Yes, there was no hesitation, whatsoever from kuLLi. He bought an ITC King from the
nearby store and started smoking. Sure enough, he looked very much experienced in smoking. Some sort of a fear kept in his mind. He was afraid that we might inform this to his parents. That is when, he started playing the trick. He started behaving as if he was getting a wonderful pleasure from that Energy stick. He also, started telling us that, having a chocolate after a cigarette is good enough to ensure that our mouths don’t stink.
Now, it was kuLLi’s turn. He challenged everybody else to try it once. All of us hesitated
for a while and then it was Prasanna who went forward, purchased a cigarette and had a drag. Even he gave an impression that, there is no harm in smoking, once in a while. Obviously, I and Raghu also got tempted and we had a cigarette each. Oops, 15 years back, I started smoking. I’ve no regrets about that.
Now a days, I smoke around 1 or 2 cigarettes a day. People call it craving, but I call it a Passion. Yes, I’m really passionate about smoking, now. Cigarette has been with me during my Good / Bad days, a real trustworthy companion. I’ve changed brands from ITC King to Charms Blues to Wills Navy cut. Now, I smoke ITC Classic Milds. Have even tried out a few Foreign Brands. The brand doesn’t matter, that special pleasure we get out of smoking, we just cant explain that. I’m definitely not very keen on discussing the ill effects of smoking. But, for sure, it reduces obesity. For people who don’t smoke; my advice is, try out smoking; you might find a bit of peace / pleasure which you would have been looking for, from quite a long time now. A Reaaal Goood Feeel:-):-)!!