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The cigarette

Kiran Bhardwaj Kiran

 

Black clouds were floating in the dark sky, but on the ground, Rohini clubhouse was full of merriment. It was full of lights, songs were getting played and people were dancing. All people seemed affluent, it was success party of the film Premfarosh, which was helmed by director Mr Hayat Khan who was sitting on the leather sofa drinking apple juice sharing the sofa with two other people, Ganesha Dhankar, the scriptwriter of that film and Harsh Bhardwaj, the hero of the film. All three were looking very dapper. “This party, this success, .. all because of you Hayat. Because of only you ”shouted Harsh, who was inebriated, he was behaving in a very childish way, all that was because of that drink in a large glass which he was holding. It was his 5th glass. “ He is right, you are an indefatigable worker, you create such a good atmosphere in which all actors are able to work happily. Outstanding!” said Mr.Ganesh Dhankar, who was, as compared to Harsh, less drunk.
Hayat smiled and appreciated them. “I am blessed to have a team such as yours. ”. Hayat didn’t like when people appreciated only a single person for a film’s success, all people from a director to a sweeper who works in a film is equally responsible for its success.
“In that case!” Harsh jumps like a monkey and crosses face with Hayat, his eyes were bulging out, his face expression was the same as a little boy who smiles after seeing ice cream after four months. Hayat frowned. A strange smell was coming from Harish. Hayat moved a bit backwards. But Harsh kept getting closer to him .”Hayat has to taste this !!” he takes out a cigarette from his pocket. Hayat’s eyes bulge out in shock. He places his glass aside.
“Harsh, I feel that your drink is enjoying you more than you are enjoying it, please don’t drink more!” he pushes Harsh hand aside. He moves his hand forwards to take Harsh’s drink away, but Harsh pounces on him all of a sudden like a hungry bear pounces on a man.
“Brothers! Come! Let's teach him how to live life!” he beckons his colleagues to come. In a trice, Hayat found himself caught in a web. It felt like a deer was surrounded by many predators. Harsh places the cigarette in Hayat’s mouth. Hayat resists, but before he could shout or beg Harsh to let him go, he inhaled, you would be thinking why he inhaled, for how long a human being can refuse air? Hayat felt totally normal after the smoke entered his lungs, but could feel something echoing in his heart and mind “ Drink it! It's tasty!”. He gets up and continues doing it. All of his friends broke into a laugh as they succeeded in making another guy fall in the trap of the cigarette.
“ See this is life ! “ said Harish. “It’s not bad !” said Hayat taking another sip of the cigarette. It was his own destruction, but he was unaware of it.
[2]
Cigarette became an essential part of Hayat’s life after that. He used to smoke like anything, he couldn’t live without it , ten to fifteen packets a day. The cigarette got a very strong hold on him. Everyone enjoyed while seeing him doing it. He felt that no one was ever going to be affected by it, but was, who was none other than his son, Ilham. Ilham noticed various people smoking, in every party which was organised by his father .When he saw his father smoking it aroused excitement in him ‘What is this thing? After putting which in mouth, everybody smiles, is it a chocolate which produces clouds? It would be yummy! Papa is doing it!, then why can’t I?’ he thought. He always wished to taste it once. Day by day his wish grew stronger and stronger.
One day, Hayat went to shoot a film and took Ilham with him. Hayat lighted his cigarette and took a sip. Ilham eyed him with a smile, his eyes staring the smoke, for him which were clouds ,that left his father’s mouth. A greedy smile spread across his face. He continuously thought “ Let’s try ! Ok I will try!”. Hayat coughed a bit. Suddenly, he shouted :” Cut it !”, he placed his cigarette in a bowl and went towards the actors to explain to them the next scene. Hayat was feeling something in his throat that day, which was making him feel restless, but he managed to explain them. He turned to see Ilham, and what he saw, bulged his eyes out, made him apoplectic and frown deeply. Ilham was smoking! He was trying to produce smoke.
“ILHAM!” Hayat bawled. Ilham immediately looked at him. Seeing his father approaching angrily, he became serious. Hayat took the cigarette out of Ilham’s mouth and “Slap!” slapped him in anger. Tears rolled down across Ilham’s cheek. “ How dare you to touch it ! ” he bawled. Ilham showed no sorry look on his face, that made Hayat angrier. He dragged him to a well and placing him there said “ Should I throw you here, will you ever touch it again?! “
“Why can’t I smoke when you can ?” Ilham shouted. The cigarette was gaining control over his senses also. “Smoking destroys lungs! Your lungs are delicate like anything, still, you want to harm them!! The kids who smoke are bad kids, no one loves a bad kid! , it can make you die!”
Ilham stopped shouting and turned his face down, Hayat could hear him crying, ants ran in his heart, his anger subsided, he felt that he was also going to break down in a few minutes. He lifted Ilham up, but not fully out of fear of falling. “Ilham?” he said. He opened his mouth to say something else but before he could say anything else, a reply came: “Am I going to lose you too? Is this cigarette going snatch you away from me?” Ilham asked. The sky was downcast. Hayat felt as he was hit with a thunderbolt in his heart. Guilt spread in his body . He took Ilham out and placed him on the ground.
He called out his driver “Faruk Sahib! Take Ilham home!” he ordered .” No please papa sorry.” he requested, begging Hayat to take him in his arms. “No, go home otherwise I will get angrier!” commanded Hayat. After hearing this, Ilham went and sat in the car quietly without making a sound. But he looked at his father, he wanted to surrender himself in the haven of his arms.
[3]
It was 7:00 pm when his shooting finished, everyone was shocked after seeing what happened today. Hayat reached home and took a very tough decision, he wasn’t going to talk to Ilham till 9:00 pm as he wanted Ilham to realize his mistake. Ilham came and requested his father to talk to him, sometimes to pick him up by spreading his arms around his father’s neck, but Hayat, for once he wanted to pick him up, fondle his hair, and give him a therapeutic hug. But he thought “ Cigarette isn't a joke, only I can make him realize this, not anyone else.” By keeping stone on his heart he left by not talking to his son, through the car window, he saw him, standing in the balcony. Tears flowed from Hayat’s eyes, his son was his everything. He left, wiping his tears to the party which he didn’t want to attend. He had instructed the cook to make Ilham eat, but he won’t as he only ate with his father. After he reached the hotel where the party was taking place, Hayat noticed one thing he didn’t smoke. There was a time when he smoked ten cigarettes, but he did only one today, that too only half as he threw it away after seeing Ilham doing it .He believed he couldn’t leave his addiction, but just a little distraction gifted him six hours without a cigarette.
In the party, Hayat couldn’t enjoy anything. He neither had eyes nor ears for the lights, amazing talks and songs. He was lounging on a sofa drowned in sadness. He wasn’t feeling good at all, the thought that he slapped his son wasn’t leaving him. No parent feels good after chastising his kid. ‘ Did I slapped him hard? Oh ! how can I be this much angry?” he thought. He became sadder, his eyes brimmed. Just then, Harsh came and sat beside him. ”What happened Hayat, why are you looking so sad today.” He asked. He was smoking. The smoke invited Hayat, he wanted to have some. Harsh noticed this and said “ Want some?” he offered him his cigarette. Hayat nodded, “ No thanks .” That ‘no’ was very difficult for Hayat. “ I reprimanded my son.”,”For what?” Harsh asked.”I saw him smoking a cigarette.” Harsh’s mouth turned into the shape of an O.“ Hayat, I can suggest something very good, the film industry is not a good place for a child to grow up in . Himachal boarding school. I have sent my son there. The parents of the film industry always have to do this. You can’t leave smoking? Can’t you? Never ! See the problem solved! You have to be like everyone in the industry, here everyone smokes, drinks, now chill out! I have found the solution!” he offered Hayat his cigarette. Hayat understood what Harsh wanted him to do. Hayat took the cigarette, Harsh was waiting desperately to see him smoking. But, nothing like that happened, Hayat went and threw the cigarette into a dustbin and after coming back said “You should never allow such things to take over your senses. You want me to send my son away and allow this cigarette to live with me, never. Families should never be put on a stake for such things. You did a grave mistake by sending you son away, this cigarette will consume you, to avoid such fate, throw it out of your life now.” and he started leaving. Harsh felt a little bit kicked in his heart by what all Hayat said :
“But what will you do when people will stop being friendly to you? You have to have friends at any cost and to have friends you need to be similar to them. Otherwise, you won’t be able to work in the film industry happily!”
Hayat turned and said “I work in the film industry because I am worthy for it, I have an imaginative mind and directing skills, till I have all these I need not worry and most importantly, cigarettes, alcohol aren’t needed for making friends. Real friends don’t make you do such things that can cause you death. No one can even touch me as long as I have my talent, devotion and determination as my shield .” Saying this, Hayat went to the host, thanked him, gave him the gift as it was a farewell party and left the hall. He sat in his car and went straight to home. He was worried for Ilham, keeping him sad for long will not be good. He also felt like he was free of a fetter today.
Hayat entered his house, took the coat off, removed his shoes and went straight to the room where his son was lying on the bed, his little body wrapped in a quilt. He could be heard sobbing. Hayat’s heart sunk, but he controlled himself. He went and removed the quilt from Ilham’s face. Ilham turned to him, tears were on his face. “Papa!” he sat up, with the quilt surrounding his little body. “I hope you have realized your mistake.” Said Ilham by wiping Ilham’s tears by his palms. “Yes. Sorry ”said Ilham apologetically, he lowered his face, an expression of penitent spread across his face. Hayat smiled and lifted his face up.
“Cigarette is not good ,love, it kills, and from now papa will also not do it. Parents teach children lessons of lives, but you not only taught me but saved me from death today.” Admitted Hayat. The sad pallor disappeared from Ilham’s face. He said in his heart “Now papa will also not do it! I will not lose him! If my father doesn’t do such a thing, why should I ?”.
“Come.” Hayat beckoned Ilham to come to his arms. Ilham stepped forward and hugged his father tightly. Heaven! All tears vanished from Ilham’s eyes, his brain became filled with peace. Hayat fondled his hair, gave him a kiss on his cheek and placed him on his lap. “Have you eaten anything?” he asked. “No,” Ilham replied in his soft voice. “Would you like to eat your favourite potato paratha ?”. Ilham’s face shone, “Yes!!” he said.
Hayat was a great cook, he learnt cooking from his wife, who was there no more. He saw her image that he could see sometimes because of the power of love. “You are a wonderful parent Hayat!” he heard Bahaar’s voice in his heart, while the image he saw didn’t even move her lips, it vanished in the next second. Hayat cooked the paratha and fed Ilham with his own hands. Before Hayat could place the first morsel in Ilham’s mouth, Ilham made his father eat first. “Parent should always eat first !” he said. Hayat couldn’t control his happiness. He threw all cigarettes and drinks in the dustbin. He didn’t allow anyone to smoke on sets, this annoyed actors, many left his films but Hayat didn’t change his decision. With his talent, he flourished in the film industry, Harish kept teasing him but Hayat didn’t paid heed to him. Harish got diagnosed with cancer after some years, he realized that Hayat was right on that day. Hayat went to meet him. He survived but his body became frail, cigarettes are such things. They are fake friends.
Friends, this story has taken birth out of my mind, to convey a very important message. Cigarette, alcohol, are all wicked things created to destroy you. Your family cares for you, don’t punish them for telling you to leave it, listen to them and follow their advice even if it someone younger advises you. Now allow me to take leave of you reader, I hope I was able to convey a good message to you through my story.


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