Saturday, June 30, 2007

Smoking (Part One)

By Summer Pierre

Sometimes I wonder about each of our paths towards that destiny. How did we stumble, grope, choke or perhaps elegantly picked it up, as naturally as one would take a pee, to opening our mouth just wide enough to snugly fit the butt of the cigarette between our lips?
I cough, choked, teared (as in 'tear drops') and just about vomited the way to mine.
First time ever. Tried it just to see what it was like. I wanted to know what made it so compulsive even when it stank so bad. It was college. As usual, after the lame ass music, environment and atmosphere of the 'Prom Night' organized by some of the students in the A-levels program, we bounced to what used to be one of the hottest night clubs in Kuala Lumpur at the time. If you don't know where I'm talking about then goddamn I'm old. Fires. Behind Shangri-la. We're talking early nineties here. So it's about an hour in. I was bored and feeling a little adventurous after a few vodka limes, my usual then. Spotted some of my friends sitting in a cluster of high chairs arranged around a small high table which had a few half drunk and empty glasses. In the middle was as usual, the ashtray. Full. Of cigarette butts jammed down into various strangely artistic poses which could even merit its own installation at the Tate. So there they are smoking. I tell them. (Note, the dialogue that follows and what happened captures more of the feel of what happened rather than what was actually and accurately said. I remember there were actually three of them at the time but for narration have reduced them to one)
'I want a cigarette.'
'Hah? Since when you smoke one?'
'I don't. I want to try it now.'
'Why now?'
'Hiya. Why you ask so many questions? Give me onelah!'
He fishes his cigarette pack out of his tight trousers with his thumb and forefinger, as if yanking out a flopping fish.
'Waitlah. Waitlah. This one not my fault ah. Just remember that. You ask for it one ah,' he says as he holds the cigarette perfectly vertically in front of me. 'I also just want to say for the record: It's bad for you.'
'Yalah, yalah,' I say as I grab the stick from him.
I put the stick in my mouth. He holds up the lighter for me. Click. An unsteady wavering flame occasionally quivers. Buffeted by the little unseen eddies of wind. Even as he protected the hesitant flame. It did not dare stretch itself. I lean down and aim the tip of the cigarette to the flame.
'Okay, now suck on it a bit. Bit by bit. Oooh yeah.'
'Shut up!'
'But seriously, take short pulls on it to get the ciggie burning.'
I smell smoke. I took short pulls on it. Not quite know what to do with it. One thing for sure. The smoke was getting to my eyes. Like a thousand tiny stabs in my eyes.
'Hiya, you're not inhaling! Take a deep pull and instead of holding it in your mouth, pull it in with your chest. You should feel it go down your throat. Which should burn since you're a first timer.'
So I did as he said. And it was as he said. Though he left out the fire in the chest feeling bit and what may come after. Perhaps it was easier for him. For me though. It began with this very mild sort of burning sensation in the chest. My chest then felt like it was going to leap out of me. To get away from the smoke. Which then rose to the throat which was still raw after that blast of hot dirty air down that went past it just recently. And finally, lodged itself in my throat and provoked me to tear, to feel breathless and to near cough my guts out. My friend was kind enough to draw the attention of my other friends to my situation so as to partake in the amusement of my predicament. They thought the redness in my face, which arose because I was coughing so much I could not breathe, was a nice touch.
That was my first puff. And my last! I thought to myself.
It tasted awful. Smelled awful. And was supposed to be bad for you to boot.
How could anybody like this awful thing?

1 comment:

hazwanis said...

are u sure it was ur last puff? ;)
if only many ppl shares e same idea wit u, our earth wud be free from tobacco puff :)