After having our lunch as usual Khairul and Syed lit up.
“Why don’t you smoke?” Kah Soon suddenly asked me.
I looked at him, apparently a question I was rarely asked. At Khairul and Syed, who have sat back in their chairs, seemingly lost in their ‘other world’, then back at Kah Soon.
“There’s a story,” I began.
When I was small, among the few house chores that I liked (from the many that I hated) to do was throwing away the rubbish. Why? Because I got to burn the rubbish, and I loved playing with fires. Back then, open rubbish burning in kampung was normal.
During one of these fire-playing at the back of the house, there suddenly occurred to me a wonderful idea. Wonderfully stupid I would say. How does it feel to smoke?
Of course I have seen people smoking, I must be around 6 at that time. These people seemed to enjoy the little thing called cigarette, the smoke coming out from it. But to my curious mind, what does it feel like? I felt like experimenting. I thought, smoking must be like, well, inhaling smoke. I couldn’t get a cigarette at that moment, but hey, I can make myself some smoke. A lot, if I want.
So I rolled up a piece of newspaper, lit one end and voila! There I was with a two-feet long home-made (and flaming) ‘cigarette’.
I did not think twice before taking a puff, and as it turned out, the only puff I could.
Suddenly my head felt swollen so big I thought it was going to explode; I saw bright lights in my head (those were what probably people call ’seeing stars’). I felt like I was going to faint but I didn’t, I almost anyway as the whole sensations brought me down squatting. Never mind the pain and the heat in my chest as I coughed out like mad.
Only after quite a few seconds did everything subside. Even then I could still feel the little pricking pains in my chest and the terrible feel in my mouth – it was like the aftertaste of eating wet earth clay.
And it was at that moment after I got back to my senses when I told myself: Smoking DOES NOT FEEL GOOD at all. No sir. Not even the smallest and tiniest bit.