I was leaving for home, a journey of 36 hours by train from Pune to Kolkata, formerly Calcutta (Which I personally feel sounds better). Anyways, I had planned to buy my dose of nicotine sticks from the train station since it would be more convenient. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, due to the usual traffic delay, we reached the station just in time to board the train without time to spare. That was when I decided to experiment with the effects of nicotine-addiction, and the effects in its absence. I promised myself I would go through the journey till Kolkata without a drag (more so because smoking in trains is illegal!), and so began my journey.
The first few hours were difficult, because all I could think of was whether I would make it through, or would I give in? 36 hrs with the possibility of train delays? What have I gotten myself into this time? Would I be able to hold myself back when the seedy looking guy comes peddling with his stash of Ciggarettes hidden neatly beneath the concealing boxes of cakes and biscuits? It was hard to keep my mind off the subject, the more I try to think less about it, I always drifted back to the same thought.
I thought about the first time I really took a drag, not just dragging the smoke in and blowing it out again, no. I mean the first time I really took the fumes in. Coincidentally, it was on another train journey from Guwahati to New Delhi while I was in Hostel. My friend, an occasinoal smoker, taught me how to actually take a drag. I would remember that kick for the rest of my life, although it wasn’t until four years later that I started the habit regularly, but thats another story.
It was nighttime in the train, and I slowly started to drift away from thoughts of smoking. There were times I thought I would actually survive the journey, and times when I doubted myself. Being without a smoke for more than 6 hrs now kinda increased my appetite. All I wanted to do now (Apart from smoking) was to eat… a lot. Anything the vendors sold on the short stop at the stations tasted great, and although I was stuffed, I could still eat like there’s no tomorrow. I guess one can consider this as a withdrawal symptom, but it probably wasn’t the worst one ever.
The next day brought with it the vendor I was afraid would break me, not just one or two, but at every other station. I knew what he had and I wanted it. It was difficult to control the urge. At times, I thought I would take just one from him, but I knew that my whole purpose would be defeated with that one cigarette. Other times, I thought, hell with it… why am i making myself miserable, it was quite a struggle indeed. But by the afternoon, I had somewhat gotten used to him, although there was always a small voice at the back of my head each time he came around, telling me that I need not restrain myself, while another told me I need to. My saving grace through the day was my appetite once again, I’ve never had this much food on a train journey ever, not even on the Rajdhani Express. If I keep this up, I thought, I would have to buy a new wardrobe by the time we reach Guwahati, but lucky for me, I detrain at Kolkata.
We reached our destination 3 hrs. late, 7 am on a chilly december morning, a perfect time to break the first light. But I had to leave by flight th same day for Aizawl, and had no time to spare at the station, so we hurried away to Mizoram House, Ballygunge, without a smoke and arrived an hour later. Not waiting to unpack, I sprinted non-stop to the small shop next to iWay. I suddenly realised on the way that my lungs were taking in more oxygen than usual. I could never run more more than a few meters lately, believe me, I’ve tried and failed miserably. Could 36 hrs without smoke actually increased my lung capacity? If so, then smoking was actually worth quitting!!
“Ek Gold Flake bada wala packet” i said as i handed him the cash. As I unwrapped the package, I felt that I was home once again. I put the filter between my lips and as I lit the tip and as I inhaled, I could feel my lungs responding to the smoke. Now, I thought, I know how Chandler felt when he takes a drag so lovingly on screen. I used to think he exagerrates a bit, but now I realised that that was exactly how it felt like, to have a cigarette lavishly without any regret. It was beautiful, and the world looked gay and happier than ever in 36hrs. It was the best damn cigarette I’ve had for as long as I remember.
As I bought some Puri-Sabji from the guy next to the Bus-stop on the other side of the road, I knew that kicking the habit is definitely possible as long as I tried. I just don’t want to right now, I’m just too worried about other matters and I need to keep my mind off them. One day, I will smarten up and eventually quit, but until then.. smoke on, bro.