The setting was perfect, a carrom board set up on make do stool, easy listening music playing in the back ground, Cy my then dear friend, and Bruno (the most handsome cocker spaniel in the world) my dog next to me on the floor with his head resting on my lap,and air conditoning (a luxury back then).
Cy was the mature street smart friend, who smoked. The smell of cigarettes in an a/c room was simply divine. So in between games he would light up, like the cool marlboro man. Having a fascination for smokers (who always had a certain air about them back then), i decided to try a smoke.
So under the guidance of my seasoned smoker friend, i took my first drag. Wow, not even a cough. I liked it! And so my nicotine habit started. Of course having a friend who could supply me the cigarettes made it much easier, i dared go to the corner shop to buy one. Girls don’t smoke!!
Back then i couldn’t reveal that i smoked openly even to all my friends. The guys were either very protective or judgemental ,and felt it was bad for my health and lectured me in between drags (they all smoked) how bad it was for me physically, not to mention for my ‘image’. I guess thanks to this hypocrisy i never became a full fledged smoker, and restricted my smokes to my room, or when i was in the company of fellow girlfriends, who didn’t mind or smoked too.But it never deterred me, and i felt a twinge of anger at being told i couldn’t do what is socially acceptable of any male.
Many of the girls i have met say they smoke only on holidays. They usually prefer the mint flavours. It becomes apparent that the taste for nicotine is not always really there (some genuinely enjoy it), but the need to be accepted and free is. The need to feel free and not guarded constantly under the lens of self professed authority, comes disguised in a small white packet. What better way to break the rules, even if they are in the privacy of one’s own room, than to blow smoke on them!
Now almost 2 decades later, we are witnessing a rising number of lady smokers, who choose to smoke openly and not feel the need to be apologetic for the same. It seems like more girls smoke in proportion to their male counterparts.
This is not shocking,but an eventuality. I have met many girls who will wear shorts, and enjoy a smoke and a drink, within the confines of their bedroom walls. Many have the support of their husbnds, but keep things under wraps to “adhere” to the laws of the in~laws.One young lady on getting married was told she now had to give her entire salary to her in laws and could not support her own parents.Where once women used to give in, she, took a stand, and decided to quit her job. Her in laws did realise their unfairness,and have now “allowed” her to support her own parents.
After generations of submission, theyoung ones are speaking their minds and expect to get the same level of respect as they give.In truth it has nothing to do with smoking and everything to do with being judged and controlled. It’s not the only change we are witnessing these days,a rise in womens’ roles in different jobs which were once only male driven, the high rate of divorce also signifies, a change. An attitudinal shift. Tolerance levels have plummeted, and women now choose to stand tall and not give in where they don’t wish to.
Change is ever constant and hopefully will lead to a more settled accepting society. Where mutual respect exists, and the rebellions don’t feel the need to rebel anymore and where;
‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ becomes a way of life,
until then for every moral confinement there will be a few more smoke rings rising up in the air!