Going up in smoke..!


WANT a smoke? Asked my friend Mohan as we sat in the college cafeteria, many years ago. “No”, I said, but watched fascinated as Mohan pulled out a packet, lit a cigarette with a flourish, and holding it expertly between his fingers brought it to his mouth and inhaled deeply.
There was a deep philosophical look on his face as his body registered with delight the warm effect of the tobacco smoke filling his lungs inside. I watched fascinated at this spectacle of manhood. I saw several girls also glancing in his direction, and Mohan seemed to like the appreciative looks.
“Hi”, I said to Mohan, as I met him a couple of years later. The packet of cigarettes was still sitting pretty in his pocket and he looked the epitome of good health. Mohan looked at me, beckoned me to come alongside, motioned me to wait and pulled out a handkerchief with which he cleared his throat.
He lit a cigarette and put his briefcase down. “Can’t talk much today”, he said, “as I’ve got this throat infection. Terrible weather you know, voice is giving me a bit of trouble.” “Too much pollution”, I said as I watched him inhale the smoke. “Yes”, he said nodding at the cars and buses, while I looked pointedly at his cigarette, “too much pollution” “Come”, I said, “lets take a walk and have a cup of tea”.
“Walk.!”, exclaimed Mohan, looking at me strangely, “who’s got the energy to walk nowadays. Come on lets take a cab”. We chatted while having tea, and I found out that Mohan had landed himself up with a plum job as a marketing manager. “But I’m changing my job soon.
I can’t take the travelling anymore” said Mohan drawing in the smoke in his same college style and looking intently at me. Office girls at the next table still ogled the cowboy with the cigarette, and Mohan I noticed, was still pleased with the admiring glances. Mohan, I learnt over the years soon left one job after the other claiming bad health. I visited him one day at a cheap nursing home, where he lay, pathetically thin and tired looking. Some ward boy had smuggled in a cigarette for him, strictly against doctors orders.
Yesterday, it was just three lines in the newspaper obituary column, that told me the sad news.; Mohan was dead. There was not even a picture of him in the paper for girls to swoon over.
Afterwards on the funeral pyre as his body went up in flames, the smoke that went up to sky seemed to be mocking the man who smoked himself to death…!
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