I believe that a drunkard’s devotion to his deity, to whom he surrenders everything including his senses is unparalleled. Of late I have noticed the same passion burning also in the hearts of the people who smoke.
In a family of non-smokers I never had /have an opportunity to observe them closely. Now more awareness against it, i.e., banned in restaurants etc the chances are bleak. People visiting you also go outside to smoke. Now we don’t even see a Jackie Shroff, i.e. a good guy smoking in the movies.
As a kid I have seen people smoking casually, sitting and chatting in our drawing-room. Now only I realize that we always had an ashtray in our house. When, the one made of some light metal, a bowl with a lid and a big hole on the top looked weird, was replaced by a lovely glass ashtray. It had spaces left on its edges to put the cigarette if the visitor wished to sip tea in between. The ashtray was cleaned regularly and put on the central-table and used as a paper-weight also. Right now I realize that in these two decades neither I had an ashtray in my house nor I saw a lovely one on the shelves of a gift/china shop.
Smokers, like drunkards are also devoted souls. A worst victim of motion sickness, I only detested them in a bus or a train, when with the first breath of that smell I would puke. Otherwise who doesn’t like Vinod Mehra blowing smoke on Rekha’s face in the movie GHAR while she sings lyrics penned by Gulzar.
Coming back to ‘burning passion’, in my locality, I get to cross paths with many beginners and stalwarts of smokers’ club, though just for the fraction of a second. One doesn’t have to stand and stare but just a glance is enough to see the deep satisfaction which seems “exquisite and leaves them unsatisfied”. From holding it to blowing smoke out of their mouth, each step looks a ritual .They seem to pronounce that if it is a slow death then let it approach me while I enjoy several such lives.
The latest argument I heard in the defense of smoking is that more non-smokers die of smoking related diseases. Husbands console their wives saying Net pe check kar lo. (Check the data on the Net).
Humming the song I faintly remember, Bhupinder singh singing in Chitrhaar, Cigrate ka dhuaan jata hai kahaan? Ye kahi jata nahin (where does the smoke from the cigarette go, etc), I sincerely wish for a few smokers I know a healthy and long life.