Of Smokin? Joes, Mamas and Cheris | india | Hindustan Times
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Of Smokin? Joes, Mamas and Cheris

CONGRATULATIONS TWAIN, old boy, that?s put as succinctly as it could have. Have I told you, my dear readers that besides being a pen-pusher, I?m also a smoker? Well, you have it now, straight from the smoke belcher.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2006 00:46 IST

To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know, I’ve done it a thousand times.
— Mark Twain

CONGRATULATIONS TWAIN, old boy, that’s put as succinctly as it could have.
Have I told you, my dear readers that besides being a pen-pusher, I’m also a smoker? Well, you have it now, straight from the smoke belcher.

Having started rather early, it’s long years that I remain stuck with the habit. But if I may say so, I have tried often to come unstuck, to make it slacken its grip on me or, if not that, to get a grip on myself. But the darn butt has got me by the you-know-what! And no matter what, it continues to stay with me.
First, it was Mother: Scolding, chiding, cajoling, and at other times, tenderness personified. She tried to make me give up the butt (she still hasn’t given up on me), explaining the damage to me, not to talk of the damage to the pocket. Sometimes she would get all worked up, at others emotional and at others still, would even try to blackmail me emotionally.

Her impassioned appeals would move me into striving to avoid, what most certainly appeared a journey down the Acheron, a guided tour of Hades and back, with Charon as my guide, and where the dragon-tailed three-headed Cerberus, stood sentinel, allowing all souls to enter but none to leave. I was also made to understand that I was no Orpheus who could lull it to sleep by playing the lyre and get past it.

Frightened just by imagining all this, I’d go to sleep vowing never to light butt again, but again, the morrow would bring new pangs of desire. Maybe, just one in the morning… and then the day continued with another, and another.

Then along came Cheri, like a breath of fresh air, and refused to accept The Bard’s argument that all’s the world’s stage and all men and women merely players. She demanded that I play the chimney no more and comply with Euro II norms. Emission levels should be curtailed. So, in her presence, I smoked just one cigarette and when she was gone, made up the deficit. She decreed: only five a day and honestly, I tried. My God is witness I tried. We got married and the butt was let out of the pack.

She reconciled to the fact that she had married a smoker and a liar, but not without riders: ‘don’t smoke the sixth and you get ‘dal makhani’, ‘lauki ka halwa’ and the rest; smoke and you don’t get ‘gajar ka halwa’ and my other favourites. But with Mother overseeing the diet of her son, it was hard for Cheri to implement her threats to action. Mother raised her eyebrow, and I grinned from temple to temple, seeing the ‘gajar ka halwa’.

Now Cheri has stopped heckling me and has given me up like a bad joke. When she’s too ticked off to argue, she gives one of those classic one liners:
The cigarette does the smoking, you’re just the sucker!!!