To Smoke or Not to Smoke?
By Rafiq Ebrahim
Glen Ellyn IL


Coming out of my son-in-law’s Dunkin Donut shop in downtown Chicago after having a crisp hot butternut donut and steaming, stimulating coffee, I lit a much-needed cigarette and faced the icy cold wind. As I took a few steps, I sensed a shadow following me. A smile greeted me,  and I heard him saying, ‘Hey, buddy, can I have a fag?’
‘Sure,’ I said, offering him my pack so that he could take one. He put his greasy fingers, took out one and smudged a few more inside with grease. He seemed like one of those homeless guys found everywhere on the streets of downtown.
Having lit his cigarette, and on taking a few puffs, he remarked, ‘Ah, so nice to enjoy the smoke in this cold windy weather!’ He coughed and added, ‘ But it is only the first few puffs that you really enjoy. After that you feel lousy. Do you know why?’
‘No, tell me why,’ I asked.
He came nearer and said, ‘Heard from an inside source that they spray horse’s urine on the tobacco that they want to use.’
That took me unaware and I almost choked on the smoke coming out of my mouth. ‘ You don’t mean that, do you really?’
He nodded vigorously. ‘Sure I do. Wait till I reveal some more facts.’
‘To give the tobacco elasticity they season it with animal fat, after mixing some dead hedgehog’s meat in it.’
I gasped. ‘Stop it. Don’t want to hear any more facts.’
He laughed aloud, and almost danced a few steps before muttering, ‘And you must be knowing that there are more than thirty harmful, at time fatal, chemicals in these smoke-producers.’
‘Then why do you smoke?’ I asked, already getting a very bad taste in my mouth.
‘That is a good question. I smoke only when I am in the company of nice people like you who smoke, but shouldn’t.’
I could only shrug my shoulders as I threw away the cigarette I was smoking. ‘Well,  thanks for the info. I’ll remember it,’ I said and moved away, hoping that I had seen the last of his person. But no, he was following me. ‘‘One minute, dude,’ he said. ‘ Could I have a few more of those lung-destroyers?’
I took out my pack. ‘ Sure, have one, have two, have the whole pack.’
He bowed and thanked, pocketing the pack. ‘It was no nice meeting you. I feel the pleasure was mutual. If you want to see me again, I am always here in the morning outside this donut shop, having a chit-chat with very nice people who come out of the shop. Some give me quarters, others fags and we do have nice conversations.’
‘Noted,’ I said.
“But not on Sunday,’ he pointed out. ‘On Sunday I go to the church nearby, and sometimes when the preacher fails to come, I am given an opportunity to preach.’

 


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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