He was lonely: not in the poetic way, but in a more mundane manner. He had managed to push aside all his loved ones away, unable to delve deep into his self to find the love they felt for him. He, like most of us in these unforgiving doldrums of aloneness, basked in the golden beach of his thoughts, while memories lashed on, one after another. He dreamt about things he had done, and things he hadn’t. In fact, he was so embroiled in his own phantasm, he made up words he could have said when he should have. And like all, with whom cloak of solitude doesn’t become itself, he began to blame all around him. He was lonely because none was worth his love, he felt.
None? No, not really. In coffee-shops and bus stops, in impulsive moments and unrestrained bouts, he would draw a deep drag from his cigarette, and remark “This is the only friend I have. Cigarette, a lonely man’s best friend!”
However, as irony of fate would have it, his only love was unrequited; his only friend betrayed him, when he died, coughing and clutching his heart. The others, whom he pushed aside all his life, came in, with bouquets and vanished into the misty smoke of the cemetery.
This clichéd anecdote re-told and re-re-told prompts several questions in me.
a) Did he know all along that the cigarette will kill him, and pursued it as an exercise in atonement? Like some sort of an unrequited love?
b) Or was the cigarette that truly bewitched him and created the bubble of smoke around?
c) Do friends seem crueler in memories? Like kindergartens and being home alone?
d) Why did the people he pushed aside all his life come at the occasion of his demise?
e) Is it really about the cigarette at all?
f) Why is the cigarette used to tell this story then?
Cold turkey, that’s all!