This is what I said to the guy at the barber shop the other day, when he read me a section from the newspaper that reported about a tobacco company that was shut down by the government, in order to keep the society healthy, and then, what I told him wasn’t entirely factual, but he took me seriously anyway.
Anyway, I said, back in the time and the place of which I am speaking, due to our government had mandated us all, we all had been told, that tobacco, and other crudely manufactured leaves that produced pernicious fumes, which now we know are hazardous, but back then, were told to be good for your lungs and your throat and your neck and your tongue and your tonsil and your skin and your whole body, so they often advertised saying, go on and smoke what you feel you must, see how it lightens you in the head, for, on a scale of one to euphoria, attaining euphoria is an absolute myth, but the main thing is, what you are getting by smoking tobacco, is the only thing that is close to what you can attain. So have fun, make the most of it, don’t you shy away, it’s all alright!
And then in the nights, when one was done with the day, and when one was told he can go home and smoke after work, you would find one, and by one, I mean even the ten year olds, exhaling rings out of their mouths, entangled one inside the other, which now looks very much like the logo of a renowned brand of a car, but back then, was only a way to show off their skills. So you would find rolls and packets and cubes and all the tobacco crumbs in one’s house, by the room, by the lamp, by the kitchen, by the sink, by the ring, by all damn things.
And that’s all I am saying it was back then.
And also, what I am saying is, who could blame Nate, the minster’s second wife’s third son, of the district, who you would often, see laying or lying in the community parks on a bench during the summer, with a bong, and smoking in the faces of the babies who would be sucking on breasts, coz they were you know, still babies.
“It’s damn goods for them babies”, he would then say, and pass on the bongs to mom’s, who also sat in the public places and smoked like they were meant to, plus come on, they liked it, and even if they did not, that thing was equivalent to food back then, only more addictive and cheaper.
And then we had Brenda, who back then, and thank god (or not), was against the whole idea of smoking, let alone, smoking in a public place and feeding cancer – which by the way wasn’t called cancer back then – to baby moms.
So when everyone would be this jolly good, favouring, what was planted in their heads about the plants they should, and must be smoking, Brenda would walk in to the room, eating a pretentious fruit, like a strawberry or something, and say negative things like; peoples, guyses, dudes, my mans, civilians, we should stop inhaling these sticks. They, a.) reek and b.) They fuckin reek and you reek along with it, plus the dizziness, argh, how can you even like that kind of feeling? You are not just causing A problem, you are also, and she would use big words like, vehemently, you are also vehemently promoting and passing it on to the next generation, pass on something good, can you, like knowledge, like the good essence of the culture, like the true heritage, like your healthy genes. And all that horseshit.
And Nate would say, Brenda, sweetheart, listen to me babe, knock it off and take a fucking hike, the research in the ancient library books say – and hence we abide by it – it’s good for one, so one must smoke, and then Brenda would be quiet for sometime, for she wouldn’t have a clue to begin with, about what the then fascist government, which by the way had Nate as a member, was up to.
Then what happened, asked the barber shop guy.
Then nothing, I said, sooner or later, or sooner AND later, they found it out. That’s all.
Jesus, he said. Thank god they did!
Thank god? Why thank god? Thank Brenda, and why thank Brenda, thank no one. Why would they stop such a thing?
“aaaa … because it is bad? Unhealthy?” he said.
Aaa …but who the fuck cares? I think it is bad only if someone puts it in your mouth against your will, forcefully for his own pleasure, and that I don’t say, as the euphemism of some sort or a sexual innuendo of any kind.
In fact, I say, go ahead, reopen the tobacco company, produce tobacco and cigarettes in bulk– like you are meant to – put it everywhere within reach, in schools, offices, clinics, beauty shops, vegetable market, playground stalls, remove the rotten lungs pictures from the cigarette packets, get rid of those shady ads of Mukesh or Suresh or Dinesh or whoever the fuck dies before the movie starts, remove the warnings and labels that say, smoking kills, in fact, if you ask me, replace it with, smoke thrills, let idiots take a call, and let’s get rid of half of the population, and soon you will start seeing the traffic clear up slowly on the streets, you will be in a happier mood, you will have lesser fights with the autorickshawwalas, your love life would be at peace, and the chances are, you might get laid more often.
And that is all I am saying.