This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anuja Gupta. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Diary Of A Smoker: “My Affair With The Bud Soon Became An Obsessive One”

By Anuja Gupta:

It starts as a sign of defiance or peer pressure. In college I realized being a girl in India came with a rule card quite different from that of boys. Such social bias created an intrinsic disgust in me, urging me to embrace an utter defiance of stereotypes. Instead of protesting through street-demonstrations or seeking emancipation through the power of the pen – I took the easiest way out – I took to smoking.

Photo Credit: José Fernandes Jr.
Photo Credit: José Fernandes Jr.

My friendship with the bud did not grow overnight. At first, it was a bold statement I was making at college or often just an accessory my friends and I preferred to keep handy during our long chats about feminism, communism and anarchy. It made perfect intellectual sense in those days – the corridors of an intellectual Kolkata college are incomplete without a few cigarette buds strewn around.

But in those early days, the bud and I were not too close. It was a forcefully acquired taste. Yet, as time passed I subconsciously explained to myself that this was the sole symbol of my freedom from stereotypes. At other times I assured myself that I was not dependent on the tobacco. I reasoned with myself that cancer was far from touching me (one of those empty assurances we give to ourselves when we do something that we know is wrong, like drinking and driving, or drugs)! Slowly and steadily, the bud and I became inseparable.

A Promise Broken Repeatedly

I tried to quit many times on my parents’ request. You cannot possibly expect a smile on your parents’ faces when they learn about your smoking. I know their insistence has nothing to do with me being a girl and everything to do with my health. To my surprise I managed to quit each time – but I failed to stay off smoking for more than two months.

Each time I quit, there was a vacuum at certain times of the day. While I fought it for a while, beyond a time I sought excuses like – it’s my friend’s birthday, my neighbor’s dog died last night, my tests begin on Monday, and invariably returned to my friend for solace/joy/worry – out of desperation. I reached a point where I decided that the idea of quitting was meaningless because I would find the motivation only when I truly wanted to give it up – I reasoned that “now is not the time”.

My affair with the bud soon became an obsessive one. As I grew older, I realized that I was smoking more than any of my friends – gender notwithstanding.

A Run To Remember

They say great realizations come from the smallest experiences – Very true.

I realized some months back, that I had put on some extra weight. Now, it was not the first time that something like this had happened – so I quickly decided that the easiest way out was a good jog and a quick work out. Thankfully losing weight was always a really fast process for me.

However, my enhanced smoking made it more and more difficult for me to regain my lost stamina. Climbing a long flight of stairs without panting and feeling breathless, had become impossible for me. Thus, it was hardly surprising when 15 minutes in to the jog I felt my breath ceasing and my throat choking.

Slowly but surely my body gave up and I could barely go on after the first 20 minutes. Towards the end of the jog I could feel myself glancing at my watch more and jogging less. I kept reassuring myself: “Another 30 seconds….think of the time when you will have your stamina back…if you don’t go on for another minute you will never be fit again…

Quitting Is Difficult

I thought that I would be so disgusted at my lack of stamina that I would never smoke again. However, the process of quitting is hardly that easy. I am still trying to muster up the will and courage to quit the bud. It touches and affects our lives in different ways – yet, in the long run it is never a true friend. I don’t know if smoking really kills but I do know that it slows us down too fast for us to even realize. My struggle to quit continues and often I lose the battle and then decide to try harder with renewed vigor. Hopefully I will succeed soon.

You must be to comment.
  1. General Muffin

    I really hope that you can get rid of this horrible addiction very soon. You will see your stamina increase rapidly in the first fortnight even. I think that will act as a motivation for you to keep away from that horrible habit. The main battle that you have to win is within you. Keep some close friends as company who will refuse to let you light up even if it means being rude to you. You may also seek professional help if feel like you need it.

    Sincerely,

    A well-wisher.

  2. Anonymous

    Even i am going through the same phase. I tried to quit smoking many time , but all went in vein. Even i started gaining weight and people often used to point my tummy. The best thing to get rid was jogging. Earlier i used to job for 10 min and slowly and slowly it has been increased to 20 min. But still i smoke (only occasionally) and for me its hard to quit. Lets see how it goes.

  3. Ex-Smoker

    It is one of the worse addictions, yes. My story is very similar to yours. However, there is one book that helped me get out of the horrible habit – How to Quit Smoking by Allen Carr. We tend to make a hundred excuses to continue and this book puts all of them in perspective. It’s like a ex-smokers legacy that we try to pass on to as many people as we can 🙂

    Hope it helps you as well.

  4. Arindam Paul

    A brave article. I love when people are ready to be vulnerable.

  5. Durga

    It’s appalling, how a small habit can snowball into something so life threatening!
    Kudos to your bravery. I hope and pray that you come out of it soon. Good luck!

  6. Jai Anand

    I wouldn’t like to comment on how to quit or not, but I respect the author for realizing and writing down her thoughts. She has been able to express her thoughts exactly on how it becomes an accessory in so called intellectual talks on society, and often today, marijuana has become an accessory too for these talks. Personally, I feel the hardest thing is not any bodily demand for nicotine but it’s that vacant gap/accessory that is missed. The more you think consciously about quitting a thing, the harder it becomes.

  7. Anonymous

    I am currently trying to quit smoking for the first time in 7 years. My mom has been my biggest support and constant cheerleader. It used to scare me that I won’t be able to have another cigarette, so now I simply don’t think about that. I save up the money I would have spent on smoking and buy myself treats to keep me motivated.

  8. Maria Waris

    Thanks for the article, it shows how smoking can turn from pride to a regret, I am not a smoker myself but yes I hav friends who do smoke and I try to show them the darker sides of this momentary pleasure that they wish for, but it goes in vain …the other day I was having a discussion with a friend.. I was trying to be as convincing as possible and i explained the samething but the rationale I got from them was, ‘it’s better to die from smoking and throwing stubs around than stress that causes cancer!’ young blood does not understand this, but I hope that smokers who read this can have an insight of there own and they may realize that how they will get addicted within no time without them even knowing!!

More from Anuja Gupta

Similar Posts

By Parul Sharma

By Pawan

By Soumita Sen

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below