“Do you know why I always smoke here?” Wicky (pronounced as ‘wiki’) asked me the other day. Lazing around in my armchair that he was so fond of, in our gallery, that is to say, a vague extension of our hostel room, unable to find anything better to do, he tried to slowly engage me, only to hurl me somewhere in the labyrinth of his wit and cynicism, as he often did.
“Yes, I remember you once said, the naked dirty dancing of smoke is so very cool, that it makes one feel hot inside” I answered; unable to help myself-like the innocent, obedient servant he never deserved.
“Nah! That is why I smoke, but do you know why I like this place in particular?” Though I knew he had this
childish mania for secrecy, it turned on my fetish all the same. I was probably the easiest prey to hunt down and my predator was well-versed with his hunting ground. I tried to come up with a decent poker face, but by now he had made out (that) the arrow was on the mark, he only had to work his way up to the bull’s eye. He continued, “See that!? (pointing towards the chimneys of the industrial area beyond the college threshold) It unfolds in a subtle manner, like a beautiful mystery airs about it…..”
And there he goes, lost again in a parallel universe, unaware of his surroundings, the dilated pupils suggested he might as well be drooling anytime now. The ramifications of his idea probed me. Was the war worth the poetry that followed? All
the smoke, harming the planet, in almost every imaginable form, was it worth the so called ‘useful byproduct’ or its abstract beauty, as Wicky suggests?
Being a meritable accomplice, I too had to do my share in crime, so putting the reality to halt; I surfed in the illustrations of my ‘environmental education’ textbook in flashback and more. Going through the foam spray, I imagined the laborious
creams that ‘peeple ke ped ke niche baitha birju nai‘ used for shaving and on the other side of the weighing pan we have a goddamned ozone hole. Again-was it worth it? And it went on for a while only to be interrupted by the buzzing of the brain-tumor-inducing piece of crap in my pocket…. So why do I write about it?
Is it to challenge a faith?
Bring about a revolution?
Incite a debate?
Guess what, we don’t have a second opinion or two sides to argue from. A skin cancer at the cost of shaving in a funny manner you’ve become used to? You’ve gotta’ be kiddin’ me. So am I a preacher urging my dumb fellows to open their
eyes, trying to show them the truth hidden in plain sight? Sorry fellas, I find myself too good for that. I guess I’m sharing my grief for being stuck in a race of dorks owing to accident of birth or maybe I was just trying to raise a little awe!