–february 14, 2007
when i was in grade 1, i was so curious as to what it felt to smoke cigarettes. i saw men doing it, and i was enamored. when my yaya left me to make tsismis with other helpers, i picked a used cigarette from the ground. it still had a bit of life, and i tried it. i wasn’t that paranoid about saliva and germs and AIDS and cancer and decay, and so i took my very first puff from a stranger’s cigarette. there was no epiphany; after that puff, i threw it away and continued playing.
one time, i had a crush on a guy who looked like he shooots junk up his nose daily. gangly and pale, he occupied my mind like a confused boy. he wrote plays; not the usual emotion-ridden ones, but plays that speak of pyschedelic wars and tormented people. i saw him once walking to the school gates; i was so bewildered i wrote an entry about his walk, how his shoulders seemed to hunch up as if defying the wind.
another time, i saw him rushing out of a building and throwing his cigarette to the ground. i don’t know if another soul occupied my body, but i went and picked up the cigarette butt. i didn’t put it to my lips, but i gingerly placed it between the pages of my journal. i still have it pressed between the pages, with dried petals, my heart, wishing feathers and other ethereal items. i don’t know where he is now, if he snores in his sleep, if he still wears large shirts for his frame, if his cheeks are still sunken. for all i know, he might have quit smoking, he might have migrated. but oh, when i remember him, he is a ghost that is of words and flesh, and he jars my days, and i would be back to wondering if he threw any scrap away for me to grovel on it.
now, whenever i am overwhelmed in a negative way, i go out and smoke. all by myself. i don’t believe in smoking with friends. i can’t bear their incredulous stares and probing remarks when it appears i am smoking for the first time. when i decide to smoke, it means i am frazzled about a situation. or i am simply sad. such as today. so i bummed a stick from a person who i know wouldn’t question me. i took in that cigarette very slowly, as if pondering on answers, but truthfully, i was just trying to slow down time. if i can’t have the bigger things in life, if some dreams and some people are only a mirage, at least, i have a stick that understands me.
so aside from my habit of assigning songs to persons dear to me (e.g. snow in the sahara for person a, head over feet, somewhere only we know and stars for person b, building a mystery for person c, take my hand for person d, and so on…), i also pigeonhole people according to the number of sticks they made me take.
i’m not sure if you, dear reader, are one of the people i am referring to. but if you are, thanks for the sticks. gave me one more reason to stock up on lip balm.