Monday, 28 April 2008

Of Smells and Smoke

What prompted me to write this entry is the lingering smell that has followed me to the office, after stopping at two banks to get my passbooks updated. LUckily, no one has mentioned the smell. Or maybe it's just paranoid me.

Today, with AHS' assistance, I managed to get out of the house at about 7.15 a.m, to get to my9.30 a.m. dental appointment in USJ. I arrived just before 8 and went to a coffee shop and ordered warm water. All I needed was a place to read my current book: When We Were Orphans by Ishiguro. I'm sure I've read the book before, because there are snippets of it I remember, but for the life of me, cannot recall the ending. It's a tremendously good book, but that is not what this post is about.

I was reading away when my nose was terrorised by the smell of cigarette smoke. I thought smokers are not allowed to smoke in public places anymore. Some men at two tables by the entrance were puffing away, so profusely, I feared of being inflicted with cancer. But since I was too meek to protest, I sat through the smoke, but not without putting my right hand over my nose. It didn't help much, and my cotton clothes sucked in all the smell.

Cigarette smoke can give me a headache or worse, make me nauseous. When I was little, I was almost always with my grandfather (aki) till I was about 6. He smoked like a chimney, but even just before he passed away, the doctor gave him a clean bill of health. So I was almost always enveloped with secondhand smoke. But I wasn't as disgusted with the smell of my aki's cigarette smoke as I was with others'. He smoked tiga-lima, Lucky Strike; and much later when I was a teenager Pall Mall and Peter Stuyversant. He would, however, smoke outside the house or by an open window.

I remember trying to smoke one of his cigarettes. My aki used to hold a lot of kenduris (at least to my memory there were lots), and he would pass round cigarettes to the menfolk. It was at the end of such a kenduri that I saw a pack lying by and decided to try smoking. I was then 5 or 6. I know I hadn't gone to school yet. My aki was outdide, saying goodbye to the last guests. I don't recall striking the match, but I remember puffing. I don't remember how long I sucked at the cigarette, but even before my aki was back into the house, I felt my head spinning, my eyes spinning, and worse, the whole house was spinning. I also felt nauseated. I can't remember throwing up, though. I honestly don't know where the other adults were, but I'm sure I looked like a drunk monkey, stupefied by the effect of the cigarette. It was worse than the mild motion sickness that I'd sometimes get going to Cameron's. It was the most vile experience.

I must have lied down somewhere to nurse my sickness, regretting what I did. I couldn't have told the adults of my sin, I was too afraid. I can't remember what I did afterwards; but I know that that was the first and the last time I tried smoking a cigarette. Never again! Rokok kampung (minus the tobaco) was different, though.

1 comment:

D said...

HAHAHAHA!!!! That last bit where you 'looked like a drunk monkey' is the wildest description ever! Never inhaled it like you or had anyone close to make me a second-hand smoker. However, I too am allergic (read: hate, detest, etc) to the stench of cigarettes!!

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