Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Smokeless Days

While waiting for my wife, as she was undergoing surgery, I regretted that I didn't bring to the hostpital the book I was reading, "Life of Pi" by Yan Martel. I had not finished reading it, in fact, I abandoned it for a while, because I can't stand the graphic descriptions of how (driven my hunger) Piscine Molitor Patel killed turtles and birds.

Bookless, I found myself walking to the mamak restaurant across the street from the hospital, with the intention of buying a pack of cigarettes. I approched the cashier counter, looking past the cashier, and scanned the showcase of a variety of (supposedly) repulsive pictures of various cancer ridden anatomy. I've always preferred the gangrened foot (and by consensus the least repulsive of all the pictures) but whatever the picture, they are easier to ignore than the nagging yen for nicotine.

Then, as I was just about to reach for my wallet in my back pocket, it occurred to me, that, at that particular moment, I did not really have a craving for a cigarette. For me, a cigarette craving only comes after a hearty meal. And that morning, at around 11 am, I was more hungry than full since the last meal I had was at 7:30, a breakfast of roti canai and teh tarik. So, there was no compulsion from within me for a smoke.

Which concludes, that the only reason I am standing at the cashier counter in a mamak restaurant, staring at the colourful array of attractively packaged cigarettes, is because I have nothing better to do. I wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes, not because I needed a nicotine fix, but because I forgot my book....

The cashier, I suspect not of local birth, asked a few times of my desire, and followed my line of sight, trying to guess which of the lovely packages I was staring at. After a few minutes of indecision, I raised my hand to the cashier and walked away.
I walked the length of the block of shop lots, the majority of which are eating places. There are two mamak restaurants and ironically both are named Taj. The smaller one is Taj cafe and the bigger one is Taj Curry House. To differentiate them, I refer the smaller one as Taj Murah while the bigger one......Taj Mahal... (I am sure you saw that coming a mile away).

The doctor said, just before the nurses took Sapiah away, that the surgery will be about one and a half hours long and then she'll be in a recovery room for another 2 hours. Since they took her at 10:45, by my calculation, Sapiah will be out of the operating theater by 2:15 pm. I, therefore have another 3 hours to kill. I stood in front of Taj Mahal for a while, thinking what should I do, and where should I go.... Or, what the hell, just buy a pack already... Dunhill Light 14s... said a small voice.

Taj Mahal only have packs of twenties, I observed from afar, of their almost bare cigarette showcase. Then I walked into the Seven Eleven, next to it. I took a Star newspaper and got into the queue to pay. When it's my turn, I flashed out my RM50 note and asked for a Dunhill Light 14s. "Sorry, bang takde duit kecik." said the boy behind the counter. I do have RM1 and I rummaged through my jean's pocket and found a 20 sen coin. Just enough to pay for the news paper.....

I did not go back to Taj Murah, where I first stood indecisively in front of the cashier, simply because I did not like the way the cashier was looking at me as I pass by his post. He looked apprehensive, as if I am an escapee from the psychiatric ward.
With the Star tucked under my armpit, I went back across the street, up to my wife's room, switched on the aircon, laid back on the artificial "lazyboy" chair, read the news and eventually fell asleep.....

Thus, by a twist of fate, began my smoke-free days. The last puff I had was just before Friday prayers on 9 October (my birthday, by the way). Which makes this day the 5th day in a row I haven't smoked. Who knows how long this will last.... my biggest challenge is when a cigarette is shoved in my direction in a social gathering.
But, then again, it's something I do to fill a void... to do something... I must keep in mind, that I do not need a nicotine fix, and therefore, do not need to unnecessarily damage any vital organs...
We'll see how it goes....

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