Saturday, March 10, 2012

39. HOW I QUIT SMOKING AT LAST

I smoke like hell on every 31st December because of my usual new year resolution to quit smoking from 1st of January. I stick to the plan the whole day on the first day and maybe the second. Somewhere between the 3rd and the 60th day I want to check if I’ve really kicked the habit and have smoke, and another and another to prove myself that I’m in control, not nicotine. And, I find myself back in square one.

I remember once while having a smoke with Jagath,(who is now in Paris I guess) I said every time I light up, I I’m thinking about quitting. Jagath had his own way of kinda liberal unconventional thinking. He asked me if really got any kick out of smoking. I said of course I did and that’s why I kept smoking. Then there’s no point in giving up something that you get a kick out of in this life he said. I remembered this statement every time I quit smoking.

In fact, I got a big sense of satisfaction, content and relaxation out of smoking no matter what the anti smoke groups would say. It helped me to spend the time, like a faithful companion. It helped me when I was lonely, away from home. It made me feel better when I was stressed out and disgusted of life. I smoked when I was happy and when I was sad. It served every mood. It made the company of friends more enjoyable. I couldn’t imagine having a drink without a smoke.  Every meal was punctuated with a cigarette. And, so was every cup of tea or coffee of fizzy drink. I sometimes had extra cups of tea out of the schedule, as an excuse to have a puff. Going to the toilet without a smoke was unimaginable. If there was a cigarette left, I woke up n the middle of the night to finish it.

I genuinely wanted to quit smoking. Every time I lit up I thought of the next possible ‘auspicious day’ like January first, my birthday, a kid’s birthday, wedding anniversary etc. that I could quit. Once I gave up smoking and kept off the stuff for over one year, until I had a drink with my brothers in law I met in a long time.

I knew smoking had a devastating effect on my budget and health both. I had this inevitable smokers’ cough. I once was scared shitless when I got a pain in one lung, and waiting for the medical reports from the battery of tests I underwent, was a nightmare. Finally, I was so much relieved to hear it was just mucus, which was relieved with medication like expectorants.  Every time I read a book or article or watched a movie or documentary on a case of lung cancer triggered by smoking, I determined to kick the habit. And, when I noticed the nicotine stains on my fingernails and back of my teeth I made a mental note that this has to stop. And the smoker himself smells like an ashtray , originating from the breath and the clothes, which the smoker would not notice much.

I was always short of change when I smoked, obviously. In Sri Lanka the Tobacco Company, which held the monopoly of manufacturing cigarettes, went on strike very often, causing island wide shortages. Shopkeepers rationed cigarettes, issuing a limited number of overpriced cigarettes to the regular customers only depending on the severity of the shortage. And this black-market price was often justified by the shopkeeper claiming that he also bought them at black market price just to make us faithful customers satisfied, which we knew wasn’t true.  And, when the things became worse, the smokers would drive/ride 20 -30 km on the rumors that cigarettes were still available at that particular shop at black-market prices.

Even being an adult, I never smoked in the presence of my parents out of respect. Maybe they knew I did. This may sound strange logic to you, if you aren’t Sri Lankan. We have strange ways of showing respect, depending on various factors. And, remember there are fathers and sons who smoke and drink together in some families.  Well, ours wasn’t one.

Nor did I smoke in front of my children, as it was unhealthy for them and bad example. Passive smoking is supposed to be worse than active smoking.

Sometimes we would miss the bus because of a smoke. Buses also had this nasty habit of beating you with Murphy’s Law, by turning up as soon as you light a cigarette when you are tired of waiting for it for so long. Anyway, the ban of smoking on buses was good. I supported that even when I was a smoker.

I made a point of never lying to my children. When my little son asked me one day if I smoked I had to lie, though. I didn’t feel as bad as I was supposed to, because I was planning to quit in the near future as always. When he asked why I didn’t smoke, I launched into the speech of Hazards of Smoking, which he absorbed like a sponge.

One critical day everything turned upside down.

The builders were busy building our house. I was with them most of the day watching the progress. As the place was dusty and hazardous for mischievous kids, we had sent our kids to my sister’s place to play.

I walked to my neighboring shop to buy some cigarettes. I was lighting one up with the lighter provided by the shop when I heard a squeal of brakes followed by a van’s sliding door opening behind me. I whirled around with the cigarette still dangling from a side of my mouth, to see my brother in law had brought my kids home in his van. My son was watching me with an amused expression on his little face. I was stunned. I was caught red handed.

“You smoke.” He squealed, amused to see the father who gave him a lecture about the hazards only the other day puffing away. I felt like a hypocrite.

“No.” I said, “This is for one of the builders. He can’t come because he’s too busy and I lit it for him to save the trouble of looking for a lighter.”

“Oh!” I saw the relief flooding into his face.”I thought for a moment you smoked.”

“Naah.” I said  walking briskly back home with him trailing behind me, the cigarette now smoldering between my fingers. I walked up to the mason’s assistant who always smoked and gave him the cigarette, saying,

“Here’s your cigarette.”

His was obviously puzzled and I winked hoping desperately he would get the message in time through his thick skull.

I handed him the rest of the cigarettes also.

“Okay sir, thanks a lot.” He said now amused at this sudden windfall. My son watched this exchange wide eyed.

“I thought for a moment you smoked.” He repeated with obvious relief.

“Well, I don’t smoke.” I said which wasn’t a lie as I had quit a moment ago.  And believe me, I never smoked after that moment and it wasn’t an auspicious day like January First either. I simply didn’t want to lie to my son and be a hypocrite.
NOW I'M FREE!


EPILOGUE:
It was six years ago. I still keep that promise and never hope to break it. I feel sorry for the Dudes who still smoke and would never have the break I had. Now I hate the cigarette smoke and the foul breath of a smoker. I almost choke when I’m sharing the same air with a smoker.

THANKS TO MY LITTLE SON.
LOVE FOR YOUR KID CAN DO WONDERS.

14 comments:

  1. I had to blink and widen my eyes so that i would be able to read the ending. let's just say i got ' something' in my eyes towards the end. it was awesome. and we are very proud that you achieved a task that many say is unachievable. well done! it is a smelly habit indeed

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  2. love you malliya.. you have become the teacher of ur father.

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  3. My dad said, he had a bad crush on cigarettes when he was 25 or 30 years of his age and then he got married. Because of the promise which gave to his wife, he stop smocking. And he never smoked again till he dies.. I never saw my dad smoking.
    You got the best decision.
    Good luck.

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  4. That's quite a moving story. Also it's nothing short of remarkable how you kept it a secret from your parents and your son!

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  5. for a moment i thought you are still smoking and feels like what the hell you are doing...in the end i got you really doing grate....i must thank your son if not your life could have end in vain

    this remind me my self... i only smoke once that was terrible incident when i start cough and last two or three hours i cursed my friends who forced me to do that and i told them i will never ever do this again and im proudly saying im a non smoker....

    i support addic's campaign once and i got some stickers saying "MEN DON'T SMOKE".... so i spread those among my friends and put one sticker at my door...

    best of luck you are the man dude

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  6. I agree. Love for your kid can, indeed, do wonders. The parent-child relationship is a very precious thing. And as parents, they will do everything in their power to protect this bond. Your story on how you finally discontinued your smoking habit is very inspiring. Stay happy!

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  7. Hey its wonderful! There's nothing we can't do for our lovers. Specialy for children.
    Good luck!

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  8. This is great .. I have to show this to my hubby... He always promises me that he's quitting smoking but I know from 13 years of my experience that he is lying....yea. I can't count how many times he promised me.. His father does not know that he is a smoker... I sometimes threaten him but I can't bcoz his father is a heart patient..

    I hope someday for our kids sake he will stop this.....

    and good luck for u....

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  9. Hey Dude, I came across this post today which sounds very familiar. I stop smoking when my little one was 2 years old. There was no need to check his DNA to make sure that he is actually my son (sorry my darling!). He started pretending smoking back then (with a ball-point pen). On the following day, I stopped smoking. Every now and then I still smoke while having a drink with friends who smoke. However, I do it in hiding. Smoking is not good at all. You have done the right thing!

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  10. I knocked your door, great feelings cherished when I open this post. most of the experience you have had is pretty much similar to me, but unfortunately, i never caught red handed to my son. ha...ha.... Still looking for a solution.. dude. Thanx, I got something to think..

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  11. I think your children could be your greatest motivation order for you to succeed and quit smoking for good. It’s like working hard to provide them a good life. Let your kids be the reason why you want to stay fit and healthy. Do it if not for them. ;)

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  12. Great post and great comments. I always forget to visit this site as I read 'mage denima' first.This shows how people are concerned about smoking.

    ReplyDelete

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