S is for Smoking but G is for God
Large cities and towns in developing countries especially the slum areas have one thing in common; lots of filth, accumulated garbage and black pigs. They live in the filth, thrive in it and upon scrutiny I found that they enjoy it. I embraced a similar pig…
A rainy morning eighteen years ago, I was leaving for Mumbai from Pune. I was seventeen, high on youth. Sitting in a bus I felt I was on the top of the world. My first job selling fax machines was going great as I had sold a few within the first month. My boss was happy and he made me feel very special. Even though not well paying by market standards that job made me feel like a million dollars!
Then, I had a craving to do something new, something I had never done before. I got off the bus at Dadar station and walked up to the first pan bidi (road side tobacco shop) shop. Bought a local brand cigarette, lit it and looked around with satisfaction as if I owned the bus station, the flyover and the surrounding buildings. I remember each and every instant of that day. That was the day I embraced the first evil.
My father was ex- army personnel, a very good man and a patron of smoking. I saw him suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) caused by this habit. Eventually he suffered a lot in his final years and was barely sixty five when he left us. I was in my twenties during this period. Even his suffering and early death could not make me give up the evil that I was consuming, inhaling every day- day after day. The recreation turned into a habit, the habit turned into an addiction and the addiction started eating into my soul. It felt like a harmless recreation initially, a mistaken grown up symbol. It meant hourly departures from the work station, meaningful business discussion in the smoking area, appeasing an angry boss with an offer of his brand of smokes and the late night television with whisky and smokes. Smoking became the constant factor in everything and everywhere!
There are so many justifications! I do it because I like it. I can leave it anytime I want. I just love the smell of nicotine. Oh! I am just a social smoker. I didn’t feel like smoking so I didn’t smoke for past eight months… now I feel like it so I smoke. You get a pig from the dirty filth hole and give it a thorough wash; it will still remain a pig. You perfume it, powder it, brush its teeth, clothe it … it will still remain a pig. Such was the habit I had picked up. This was the pig I embraced.
Six months ago, I woke up one morning with a start as I had been dreaming something disturbing, and immediately got off the bed and got on my knees to pray. I prayed to God to show me where he is working in my life. I prayed that he let me walk towards him, come closer to him and humbly embrace him. Something miraculous happened. He granted my long waiting wish. He granted me the will, the wisdom and the courage to get rid of the pig that I had embraced 18 years ago. A habit that I had struggled with for past ten years just kept nagging me throughout the day. The cycle of the want to smoke, the action and the guilt was an ongoing thing on my mind. The bad effects were numerous. My health took a negative turn – couldn’t climb stairs as fast, shortness of breath and the worst part – could not sing anymore. I used to sing quiet well at one time, but lost the voice as vocal chords lost their flexibility. Another loss that hurt me the most was departure of good friends. They tried to talk me out of the habit, soon got discouraged with my persistence and left me. I am sure that this habit must have hurt me professionally as I had been hurting non smokers with my cancerous second hand smoke. The evil is extremely serious and I understood it very late.
Smoking is a ruthless killer resulting in approx 4.9 million (2007 report) deaths every year. The saddest part is that all these deaths are preventable. Smoking is the cause of horrendous diseases like lung and throat cancer, high blood pressure, serious heart ailments, COPD, male erectile dysfunction and birth defects.
There can be no sane justification to this habit and even mild smoking is extremely damaging to the health and the soul. It is an extremely selfish habit harmful to all and beneficial to none. Monetary benefit to the governments and companies is miniscule as compared to the loss to the entire society. There is no reason anymore for us to keep embracing this filthy pig. We have to let it go. I am lucky as God made it very easy for me. He helped me to just disconnect from the habit in such a way that I didn’t look back. He took away my focus from the habit and it just got replaced. A famous saying “whatever gets your attention, gets you” came true. God gifted me with this new strength to say no to this. Added bonus was that he inspired my spouse equally. It was a double happiness and the greatest gift that I could have asked for. God is extremely kind and most generous and can do what seems very difficult to humans.
I invite all of you to a smoke free life. It is marvelous. This life smells better, tastes better and feels better. Your family members and friends will love it if you decide to quit today. Most of all, the walk towards The Almighty will become better. Whatever takes us closer to Him is all that’s worth doing in the limited time that we have on this earth. Smoking is definitely not taking us closer to God. In fact I feel it drives us away from God as we harm the body he has so lovingly given to us. Just earnestly pray to God for relief and de-addiction, I am sure he is just waiting for you to ask ….