The cigarette meant more than a precursor for disease, although that thought nagged at her too each time she lit up. It was always a support. A cure for loneliness. Every time she lit her Classic Milds, she had something to look forward to, even if it was just for 5 and a half minutes. Whenever she smoked alone, it was her friend. With a lit wand, she could start conversations with herself. Interesting, self-indulgent, neurotic monologues she kept up for far beyond the 5.5 minutes. Sometimes the soliloquy tired her, sometimes it upset her and then she reached out for another cigarette. The second one always made her feel more grown up. When alone, the second cigarette gave her, to herself, an aura of cynicism, of worldliness, of boredom that she always associated with other women she admired in the world. When with others, as was the custom, she had to pass her cigarette around. In the earlier days of scarcity, she did this without a grudge. Nowadays, she loathed to share her lifeline, especially around men who wet the bud. She never did, she never had. Even in the days under tutelage, she would maintain complete dryness of the budular region. She remembers some guy who was sharing a cigarette with her say that it was so wonderful that she didn't wet the bud like other girls sometimes did. She forgets who the guy was but remembers the feeling of inane pride and accomplishment at that achievement. More so because it was intuitive. Like she was born with it. Not wearing lipstick also helped. At least in this area. It didn't perhaps help in any other region of her life. Her fellow smokers nowadays complained that she smoked too much. “I have nothing else in my life, Don't take this away from me too,” she pleads every time. They give up. For they were friends too and fellow sufferers of the lengthiness of life and the abundance of time on their hands.
The cigarette indicated a lot more if you ever cared to notice. She had changed her brand some 4 times in her short life. Each time for love of some kind. Each time she realised her sacrifice after her heart or ego or both were squashed beneath some manly or dainty footwear. Every time she reverted to the one that tasted the best. Ever the good learner and a strong follower of the adage, “Learn From Your Experience,” she stuck to the one which tasted better. Or really which gave her the best high. There were some mysteries she couldn't fathom. Gold Flake lights were for sissies. But the two men she'd been most attracted to, and hence the most good-looking, broad-shouldered men she knew, smoked lights. Whereas, this dainty dyke (yeah I know) she was conversing and smoking with, smoked Navy Cuts. Yes, she switched her brand every time. Now she smokes Wills Classic Milds. Friends bought packs at a carton rate. This taste too had been borrowed, but it troubles her the least. At least her heart is alive. And sometimes, when she has finished smoking even the bud, conversations, real and warm and light and full of love and of a shared life prevail. And sometimes, she forgets to light the second cigarette.