Childhood is a great experience. While you’re growing up you will never know how cool and awesome it is. You will know it only when you’re hurrying off to work and sit down in your office seat, dripping sweat from your forehead, that it was one of the best phases of your life.
The same thing happened with me as I was pushed back into one of the proudest moments of my life, when someone asked me “Do you smoke?”
My mom was getting me ready to send me off to school. I was 13 and It was my first day of high school. My mom was fixing my tie as I saw my dad enter through his shop. We had a shop that led directly into our home. I saw my dad was smoking. He picked something heavy with both of his hands and was balancing a cigarette on one of his lips at the same time.
I heard my mom say… “Now you are big boy Thousif. There will be ‘friends’ who will teach you things that are not good.”
“Hmm..” I murmured as I continued seeing my dad do the balancing act and go into the shop. My eyes followed him the whole time.
My mom continued “You should be aware that, there are bad things that you should not try.”
“Like what?” I asked.
My dad entered to pick something again. My mom looked towards my dad, “Like smoking” she said
My dad turned around. He was in one of his moods, but I could see a sort of helplessness in his eyes which said ‘I am addicted to this son and I can’t help it’.
“So I shouldn’t smoke if my friends ask me to, is that what you’re saying?” I asked
“Yes” she replied “Smoking is a very bad habit, it ruins your lungs, health and most importantly your life” she said curtly, looking at my dad.
I innocently turned my eyes towards my dad, “but why shouldn’t I mom?...” I said “Dad smokes!
My mother was surprised at my retort. “Well…” she said “I have no answer for that”. She looked at my father “Why don’t you ask your dad if he has one?” she said, smiling an oh-you-are-in-trouble-now-daddy smile.
My dad just stood there, stunned by what I had said. The cigarette he was balancing on his lips fell to the ground. He quickly stomped on it. He looked at me and calmly came towards me.
‘Oh man. I am gonna get spanked’ I thought. I saw my dad come near me and sit on his knees. He looked into my hands, held my hands and asked me “If I stop smoking from tomorrow, will you promise me that you will never smoke in your entire life?”
From the time that I had seen my dad as a child, he had been a chain smoker. Having his own shop was an added incentive to his habit. He would smoke up to 3 packets of cigarettes a day. One after the other, one after the other; It never stopped.
All the while I had watched him, I wanted get rid of his habit. My mom always used to show me pics about what horrible things smoking cigarettes could lead to, and say “Stay away from cigarettes”. And whenever I saw them, I wanted to make my dad stop smoking cigarettes. ‘If I could just get him to quit’ I used to think, ‘If i could just…’, and lo here was the chance.
I met his eyes and said “No dad. If you stop smoking from tomorrow, I will never smoke in my entire life.”
My dad looked into my eyes, ruffled my hair and said “Ok, why tomorrow! I am quitting cigarettes right now!”
I turned towards my mom and saw the look in her eyes. It was like I had done the impossible. She had asked my dad to quit many times, but he hadn’t. It’s not like he hadn’t tried. He’d quit for a couple of months and then start up again. You can exactly blame him. He had the poison right in front of him every day, and he just had to smoke.
I saw my dad after that day. He struggled. The initial days when you quit smoking after having smoked for like 20 years is never-wracking. It’s not like doing drugs, but its close. I saw him every day and he never put another cigarette on his lips.
As I was growing up, I had many instances where my friends forced me to smoke. Seeing that I had a shop which sold cigarettes, they all wanted me to start smoking and be their supplier. But I didn’t.
It was tough. Every day I used to be around cigarettes, and seeing my friends smoke and say it was amazing to smoke, I wanted to try too. I was made fun of, bullied and made to feel that I was missing out on something great. Some days I was so frustrated that I used to take a cigarette and keep it on my lips and suck the air through the cigarette, just the air. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about; but I never lit one and smoked.
As I grew up, each time a ‘friend’ asked me “Do you smoke?” it used to remind me of that time, and that promise my dad made and kept.
It has been 13 years since my dad quit smoking and each time anyone asks me the question, I say “No. Never have, never will”.
Every time a conversation about smoking comes my way, I am reminded of that promise. I say to myself. “My dad left smoking cigarettes for me. He could have said I won’t stop, but he did. He kept a promise made to his son, and I will keep the promise I made to my dad”.
It has been 13 years and both of us haven’t smoked a cigarette. I could say it is because of that promise, but what I see is love. Our love and respect for each other has made us stray away from a dangerous habit.
I see my dad now and feel proud. My dad sees me and he feels proud. That moment in my childhood was 100% real. It taught me that parents can do anything for a child and if children try, they can do anything for their parents. It might be a small thing, but for me it means a lot. It made me see my dad as a entirely new person. It made us a family; a loving, caring and 100% real family.
Disclaimer: The images have been taken from Google and Imagesbazaar.com. I do not own any of these photos.