Cigarettes

this moment can be a story one day. as i walked into my room, the sweet smell of roses took my breath away. my mother had changed the flowers in the vase. she knows my habits. but when she is away. the roses’ perfume mixes with my cigarette’s smoke and the fragrance is even more ecstatic. since she knows every corner of my room, i keep cigarettes in my bag. i took one out and lighted it. with the smoke’s infusion in the air, the scenes from today’s day became live again in my mind’s eye. i was standing at the bus-stop. the bus which i use is less in number but travels fast on its route. still recovering from the monday blues, i could hardly remember the name of my new assistant.i had not caught the name when manager had introduced him to me. one of those boys from a wealthy family he seemed where the father is a successful businessman and elder brother a successful businessman too but the grandfather, a hardworking frail old man who raised the business from scratch. the white shirt with the navy blue tie and even darker blue trousers suited his white complexion. the look of that fresh graduate apparent on his face but he looked a little aged than other newly hired assistants. the radiance of his face made him stand out. i had the same spirit when i had joined the company six years ago but I was employed on merit (i thought otherwise of him). he seemed arrogant from the sarcastic look in his eyes as if accusing me of something as i shook his hands as.. isn’t it funny how i remember my unreal perception of look in his eye and not his name?

The bus came and i climbed on to the back door, thrust in to avoid lingering on the foot pedals at the door. “araam se bhai” (easy, man!), said someone on whose foot i stepped.

i looked at myself in the mirror making cigarette smoke circles. “smoking kills you”, Aalia  had said when i had excused for going to the smoking area after lunch. “We are mortal anyway, aren’t we?”, i had replied.

“how long have you been smoking?”,she asked as we walked towards the door.

“since college!”

“and you were how old then?”

“i don’t know, seventeen , i think!”

“weren’t those things banned for teenagers?”

“yes they were but we used to ask the security guard, Khan Bahadur to bring us the cigarettes for a small commission.”

“we?”

“myself and Ghulam Hussain!”

“the friend who is a drug addict now?”

I nodded slightly. I met Ghulam in college. he was a handsome man. in comparison with him i looked commonplace.but he was engulfed in drugs afterwards and barely finished college. my father had abstained me since then from having any contacts with him. and our year old friendship died. i never met him again. why had i told her that Ghulam was an addict. but that was two years ago. the woman has very sharp memory. i feared that she wont make a good wife since i  found her peering into everything including my contacts in the diary i kept. everyone in the office knew that we had a love affair going on. the news was spread when some peon watched us go hand in hand in the poorly lit stairway. there had been a tragedy with her family that day and i,as a symbol of support had to hold her shivering hand.

“why don’t you stop smoking?”

“i cannot now!”

“you should at least try!”

“i love smoking. i don’t want to leave it”

“but you will be an easier target of asthma, lung cancer, throat cancer,mouth cancer,emphysema , COPD!”

“what the hell is COPD?”

“tobacco reduces man power……!”

“SHUT UP!!!!!”

and she went away to her cabin, giggling.

i jumped out of the bus quickly and thanked God for getting me out of the messy vehicle safe and complete. i had lost my tooth during one such ride in university days and Aalia thinks that made my grin cuter.

the manager was waiting for me at the office.

“this guy is supposed to be here just for some experience. the managing director personally called me to take him under my charge. so you got to be easy with him. just a matter of six months. the director told me he is the son of his friend and has recovered from a fatal disease. after six months he will join his father’s business.”

“he seemed very enthusiastic, didn’t he?”, i said.

“that’s the power of medicine i think”

“what’s his name?”

“Ghulam Hussain”

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