Okay, I’ll not misuse your quality time, but I will finish narrating my story before you complain about it to anybody else.
After I was told to ‘get out of the class’, I wiped my sleepy eyes, grinned and dumped my books into my bag and obeyed the orders of my Physics lecturer. I felt fresh air swooping into my lungs. The corridors were empty, with nobody out of their classrooms, including my second-last row friends or any friends from other classrooms. They had to sit mournfully in their classes for attendance had taken serious toll on them. It was almost time for me to feed my taste buds. So, I slowly crept out of the college, towards the infamous canteen which served only five varieties of food throughout the academic year. I didn’t want to disrespect myself eating in a poverty-stricken canteen in front of two of my old crushes who were chatting with their boyfriends in the table opposite to where I sat.
I sat, without satisfying my roaring store house which threatened me often to gulp something down so that I could feel satiated. No waiters arrived. I got up on my own and went to the counter where the manager of the canteen gave tickets to what people order to eat.
“Yes?” The canteen-man grinned at me.
“I’m hungry, and I don’t have any money, but I promise you that I’ll return your money the very next day” I whispered into his ears.
He gave me a horrifying look which made me to walk out of that place. I slipped out just to avoid the girls, who’d laugh at me the moment the canteen-man starts to abuse.
Out there in the middle of the road, I found a small shop which sold good cigarettes and mouth fresheners. I had to pass by and wave my hand to an old friend who was puffing like a steam engine, gushing out smoke all over the place.
“Hey man, want a puff?” He said, after turning towards me.
“No, I don’t smoke” I told, pushing his cigarette-held hand away from my body.
“You’ll regret this man. Look at those girls, they’re doing it happily. Just give it a try” He said, provoking my anger Gods.
I tugged a cigarette out of his cigarette pack and held it between my teeth. I didn’t know what made me to do so.
I said “How do you ignite this cylinder up?”
He quickly pulled a lustrous lighter out of his pocket and held it at the tip of the cigarette, igniting it for me to inhale something which I hadn’t, since birth.
I sipped it just like how I used to sip my favourite smoothie. I felt the smoke dancing in every part of my head and lungs. I threw the cigarette away and held my chest, coughing like a diseased animal.
“Oh my god, I’m gonna die man” I said right after I could breathe the old fresh air again.
He laughed at me and picked the half burnt cigarette off the ground and blew it off. He turned back at me and held my hand, opening my fist and placing his lustrous lighter in my palm.
“You’ll need this” he said as he walked away, disappearing into the smoggy atmosphere.
I looked at the lighter and I wanted to get rid of it, for it had no job to do with me. But, its appearance had kept me from doing so. I slid it carefully into my handbag and walked towards college to attend the next class which occurred right after ten minutes.
One day later, I walked to the same shop and stood in front of it. He asked me what I wanted. I couldn’t speak a phrase about anything. I was dumbstruck for I hadn’t known the brand of the cigarette which I had held in between my fingers.
I began to say “I, yesterday… My friend…”
“Oh, I get it” he cut me short, as though he had captured what I wanted to say.
“Take this. This is Marlboro. Finest. You’ll love it. The same thing you ditched on the ground the previous day”.
“Okay, thank you” I said and bought the whole pack of those and walked away, without having anybody’s eyes on my property.
From that day on, I was a loyal customer till date, smoking ten-a-day without having anyone noticed until today where my mother found it in my pocket when she had to put my pants for a wash.
“What did she find?” I said, curious about something predictable.
“The lustrous lighter man, damn it” he said as he kicked himself by the walls of my study room.
We had exchanged the I’s there. For he, my second-last bencher friend had been the protagonist of his story and I had been his sole listener.
“Why don’t you say anything, I’ve told everything to you now and my mother is already furious about it. She’s gonna tell my dad about it” he cried, breaking himself down.
“Man, there’s nothing left for you to do, just head back home and be a good boy from now on. We’ve got an exam to study for, and it’s tomorrow. Don’t be a jerk” I said as I pulled him out of my room, guiding him out of my house.
Finally, he moved out of the house and then, he was out of the main gate. His face was already pale, knowing the consequences. His father would come to know how his monthly expenses got a hike in the recent past, aggregating for a total of two hundred and a sixty cigarettes.
He said “I’m gonna die man, they’ll all know about it”.
I threw my hands up in the air. I turned myself towards the house and went in.
“Smoking kills, bro”.