The strike of a match and a flame lights up, illuminating his face for a second before it goes out. Only the dark glowing red tip of the cigarette remains, as he sits in the dark, brooding. Thinking thoughts. At some point you hear strains of music as he plucks at the guitar strings. A snatch of a song. An unbidden memory.
My earliest memories are of curling into my father’s chest as he smoked a last cigarette for the night. The smell of cigarettes hung thick in the air, mingling with Ma’s perfume and that is what home has always smelt like to me. For a non-smoker and a teetotaller I’m pretty tolerant of both, some might even say, encouraging. It’s what a man was meant to smell like. Brut or Old Spice and cigarettes.
It’s the image I guess. I dated smokers until I married the equally squeaky clean OA! There is a certain intensity to smokers. The carelessly dangling cigarette adds layers they may or may not possess. The focus as they lean forward to accept a light, the first deep drag, the smell of cigarette hanging around them (some might disagree, but it’s like cooking fish in the house – to some it’s disgusting, others will drool over it) and the wisps of smoke curling around them. To me, the Marlboro man was always ‘The Man’. But the alpha male is dying a slow death and well he must if he has to coexist with me.
And then, it’s 2011, who smokes anymore?! And so it is that the Bean chases Chhota Nana around the balcony where he slips out for a quiet smoke. “Why are you smoking? It’s bad for your health. Your lungs will turn to gold (she means coal – I taught her that).”
And I laugh as I watch him hastily stub out his cigarette rather than invite the ire of his 4 year old grand daughter. His wife of 20 years smiles at a 4 year old doing what she’s tried unsuccessfully for the last 2 decades.
I wonder what lies ahead. What my daughter and her generation will find interesting in a man. Will they be handsome, will they be rich, will they be non-smokers with smooth chests and armpits? Will I have to take the Brat and the Bean to wax their legs to the salon together? *puke*
Dear Abhay Deol,
I may not think you are the hottest, but thank you, thank you for not succumbing to pressure and shaving your chest. Thank you for doing this for my son and for the other young boys out there who might soon have had smoother legs than mine if not for your taking a stand.
Sigh. Excuse the babbling and rambling. This is the result of a 2 am scribble.