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The urge

July 12, 2008

He was having an urge to write something as well as to smoke. Quitting smoking is easy it’s difficult to suppress the urges that one feels frequently – almost always.

Writing and smoking are connected. He’d sit on the chair with legs stretched on the bed and the cigarette perched on his lips that he’d roll skillfully from left to right and right to left. The pen between his fingers would slip quickly and smoothly on the slick paper. He’d be able to say everything that’s on his mind. Each and everything – thoughts pure – words crystal clear.

Thoughts? All the thoughts were circling around one thing – the cigarette. The market was just a stone’s throw away. All he needed was to put on shoes, settle his dishelved hair and leave. At the shop the keeper would ask him the brand. He’d say Benson & Hedges lights. That’s what he was addicted to. That’s what he wanted right now.

He picked up Rubik’s Cube from the corner of his messy bed to distract himself. It didn’t help. He bit his lower lip and put a tiny torn piece of paper into his mouth. It melted instantly. That didn’t help either. He was restless. He hopelessly looked at the neat and clean marble ashtray on the side table. He couldn’t resist anymore and headed towards the market. The shop was crowded with customers. He waited for his turn. He stared at the shelf behind the shopkeeper that was adorned with imported cigarettes and cigars packs. He licked his chapped lips and his eyes twinkled upon seeing Benson & Hedges lights.

“Yes?” The shopkeeper said to get his attention.

“I… I need a bottle of mango juice.” He didn’t realize he was thirsty and the words almost got stuck with his tongue.

The shopkeeper went to the other end of the rectangular shop; opened up the freezer.

“Is this all?” He asked putting down the bottle in the middle of the counter.

“I also need…” He couldn’t utter another word and instead kept staring at the shelf behind him. The shopkeeper turned back; tracing his gaze. He smiled slyly and took out a pack from the side of the shelf.

“Here!” He said revealing a small packet with silhouetted images.

He came out of his reverie…glanced at the packet indifferently and said, “I don’t need this.”

The shopkeeper looked left and right and whispered in an irritatingly frank tone, “Don’t be shy.”

He was disgusted. Scratched his forehead with the tips of his index finger and said, “Yes, I remember I need Telenor card, Rs.100.”

“I see!” The shopkeeper put the packet back in the shelf, clearly disappointed as if he was deprived of a great service to humanity.


He paid and left. The cigarette was still on his mind. The urge was very much there. He felt something crawling under his skin. Something like ants probably just as Mumtaz Mufti had mentioned in Alipur Ka Ayli, though in the totally different context. He wanted to yell. Frustration often makes you do such things. The bottle was still in his hand, he kept on walking straight towards the kiosk in the corner of the chowk. That would be his favorite place when he was a kid. He would come here with his brother for buying sweets. That place had now lost its charm like many other things in life. Still he was going there because it sold all the best known cigarette brands.

When he got there he unintentionally looked at his left across the fountain and carried on walking in that direction. He stopped by a house a while later, smiled ruefully and muttered. “You made it very tough for me.”

He returned and entered his alley lost in thoughts. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. He opened the cap of the bottle and flipped it on the pavement. The mango juice could give a little relief. He sat down on the steps of a vacant house and took out his wallet. There was a picture of the girl. He took out the picture for a better viewing and said, “I don’t know where you are and what are you doing right now but I only want to say that some promises are very difficult to break.

He put the photo back, took a last sip and started towards his home. His urge had been dying down like a fading sun in the December afternoon.  

(Painting by Lauran Lee)

14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2008 8:47 am


  2. Ayesha permalink
    July 12, 2008 9:31 am

    Thank you! 🙂

  3. studentt permalink
    July 13, 2008 4:04 am

    i waited for a tragedy:p

  4. July 13, 2008 8:51 am

    Cigarette used to be a sore point between my hubby and I – now I can tell from the smell whether the pack is fresh or not – in some brands at least.I got used to it.

  5. Ayesha permalink
    July 13, 2008 11:45 am

    Yeah I too can tell Ranger cigarette from Dunhill :D… lol!

    Student: What kinda tragedy? 😛
    One was expecting suicide bombing, you expected tragedy what’s going on 😛

  6. Hawk permalink
    July 13, 2008 3:44 pm

    Cigarette … A BIG NO NO…

    I can see my father with a broken lung, he got to take nebulizer and other inhaler 7 times a day along with 4 tablets to get going.

    But still my brother won’t leave smoking, he is more aggressive and not exactly but almost a chain smoker.

    I have to confess, I do smoke occasionally too but that is very rare, sometimes in tension, sometimes in fun. Cigarette is not good for tension but the act of deep breadth I think helps somewhat or may be it is just our mind sets… I am not sure

    and BTW I had that smell and even the taste that remains for quite a few hours after smoking.

  7. Hawk permalink
    July 13, 2008 3:45 pm

    correction in last sentence.

    BTW I hate that smell and even the taste that remains for quite a few hours after smoking.

  8. July 13, 2008 7:33 pm

    My friend – I am on inhalers for last three years – and steroids and tablets – dont even ask how it goes – ASTHMA – And I dont smoke!

  9. July 13, 2008 7:34 pm

    To Hawk – Very sorry about your dads condition – Wish him well from me as well!

  10. July 13, 2008 7:35 pm

    And yes Ayesha – It was dunhill I could differenciate – they used to have quality trouble in Karachi due to dampness – I could smwll the difference.

  11. July 13, 2008 7:36 pm

    “smell” – spellings – see, the smoke damaged my spell checker in my brain!

  12. Ayesha permalink
    July 14, 2008 8:58 am

    Well Nadeen you might have got asthama because of the cigarettes your haubby smoke.

  13. Hawk permalink
    July 14, 2008 2:54 pm

    Thanks Nadeen

    One of my relative is a heavy smoker and when we say him to leave it, he says my father was a smoker and died of cancer and my mother was a non-smoker and yet she died of cancer. See how one tries to find reasons whether logical or absurd.

  14. Ayesha permalink
    July 14, 2008 5:15 pm

    Yeah some people are really reckless

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