Episode – 3 : The Love-Hate Relationship
Cynic decides to take a short break. A cigarette would relax her and help her focus. She ties up her hair in a quick bun, and paces out of the hostel. Her steps trod a path that leads to a Motor Transit station, which however is much more popular with the students for a reason that is quite unrelated to transport services – the easy access to cigarettes. Cynic goes there with the same purpose. She, however, would argue that the purpose is not really unrelated to transport. The difference in the transport she seeks is that it does not lead her to a geographical destination, but instead, transports her mind to a much relaxed state – a destination where her mind finally calms down. She looks around and sees that a minor fraction of the demographic is not really here for the destination, but for the joyride. These are mostly young boys, who have not grown their first bit of facial hair. She smiles at their innocence and tells herself that very soon they would find no joy in the joyride, and would come only to get to the destination. They would know the ride did not wish them well, but the destination would feel like home – it would be the only place they were used to being in. It would be dreadful to even think of not reaching home after a while.
Cynic suddenly remembers the early days of her graduation in Bombay, when she was also a part of this same, innocent demography, which held slim, slow-suicide sticks with their lips, not for the feel of it, but for the look of it, for the charm of it. She had always been a rebel, but she did not possess then, the wisdom to know that not every rebellion was as rational as it was radical. A rebellious adolescence, minus the insight to control it, had led her through to an inescapable love-hate relationship with nicotine. Today, she regrets every moment of those days and wishes to go back to her non-smoking self, but then, her hatred for this habit is often overcome by the spurts of yearning that keep coming back to greet her in the most stressful of times.
Unable to withhold herself, she lights up a death-rewarding cigarette, as familiar well-meaning hymns resound in the temple behind her. She tries to match the frequency of her puffs, with the beats from the temple dhol, but the time signature of the hymn is too fast, and she coughs. Achieving a high frequency of puffs might be difficult, but she knows the frequency of these coughs would definitely increase as she gets older. She returns to the thought of how an innocent youth had become the cause for her hideous habit. As these thoughts linger in her head, the same hideous habit comes back to take control. She takes a deep breath, relaxes her lungs and then takes a non-resonating puff, which starts another cycle of unrest for her lungs.