By Priyanka Kandoi:
Each time you put a cigarette to your lips, each time you smirk at the statutory warning on the pack of cigarettes – ‘smoking kills’, think very carefully. Smoking does kill, and not only does it kill just the person in question, it kills everyone and everything associated with that person. Smoking is not ‘cool’ or ‘liberating’, it is a selfish act! Yes, it does act like the knight in shining armour, which saves you from the distress called ‘life’. But is life just about you? What about the ones who love you and are now being forced to go through life without your presence? What about your wife who has no more reason to live, now that you are gone? What about your daughter who went to sleep knowing she has a father who calls her his princess and woke up to a dead one? What about your little grand-daughter who believes her dadu has gone for a vacation and runs to the door every time the doorbell rings. What about your son who is now suddenly responsible for everyone but doesn’t have a clue as to how he’s going to deal with it all?
Your wife can’t sleep without taking her sleeping pills anymore. She is a widow now and people won’t stop reminding her of it. Forget people, stupid Indian traditions are enough for that. The sindoor, the bindi, the bangles – the various signs of being a married woman, which now she has no ‘right’ over. She now goes through her daily activities alone, which mostly used to centre around you and that is a constant reminder. She wakes up alone in her bed each morning wishing she were dead and reunited with you. Your possessions are all around the room, the house, and each little reminder kills her from within. She wanted to grow old with you, not without you.
Your daughter had only gotten married. She was supposed to spend her nights whispering sweet nothings to her husband or giggling over something stupid, but she cries herself to sleep each night. Her relationship with her husband and her new family is badly affected because no matter how supportive they are of everything, they can’t feel the loss she feels. She used to kiss you goodnight on your bald head every night, now she looks at your photograph and dies a little inside on seeing the garland placed over it. Memories come as flashbacks and she finds herself drowning even though she isn’t under water.
Life had so much to offer, but you chose to give it all up, and for what? Cigarettes? If you are looking down upon your family, as they say dead people do, then I’m sure the mess you’ve made does not impress you. Maybe when it rains, it’s you who is weeping but you’re on the other side now and no one can reverse time.
When you die, you don’t go away empty-handed. You take away a lot from your loved ones. Their smiles, joy, and, laughter are the first to go. Slowly, the will to live follows. Dreams, hopes, and, aspirations also want to leave.
Throw away that cigarette right away. It’s not doing anyone any good. Yes, it is difficult to break out of a bad habit but it is not impossible. What is impossible is being granted life after you’re dead. You know sometimes ordinary people pull off extraordinary things. You can do it. You can quit something that will not only burn you but everything on its way. Thank you for ‘not smoking’.