Yes, I smoke. You can call it a filthy habit or a guilty pleasure and yes we all have reasons why we smoke, all seven million South Africans each has his or her reasons and I don’t judge. I hope you don’t as well, or at least, you are not one to force you anti-smoking beliefs on us. We don’t need to be arseholes about things that we don’t approve off, do we.

Smoking CAN be helpful. I am reminded firstly of a day when I used to work at a School of Jewellery Making. A friend of my brother entered our offices. He was bloody, full of scratches and scrape marks and one of his eyes were swollen, black and blue and the white part was red as blood, let’s call him Vissie*. It turns out two men in a police car picked him up. One white man and one black. They took his money, physically abused him, drove around with him bounded for ours in the back of the car. Then they unbound him and threw him out of the moving vehicle. He managed to walk to our school. He shivered heavily and the only way we could calm him down is by giving him cigarettes. This is a true story.

Years after, one summers day I was sitting at my mother’s bed. She was dying. We we’re alone on the 10th floor of a apartment building with a broken elevator. Her breath was irregular and she gasped for air. I called for an ambulance and they said they were on their way. I waited for hours and while waiting my mother died of a massive stroke. I had to call the family. Only cigarettes kept me calm as I phones my brothers and sisters. Smoking may be an evil to some but in times of dark emotional turmoil it can be meditative and calming.

I suffer from depression and thus I cannot just stop smoking. It will leave a void. It will take a big part of control away from me. Before you judge, I am smoking less these days, I used to smoke two packs a day and now smoke 4 to 6 cigarettes a day. I sometimes even skip a day, but for now I cannot stop. I stopped smoking in the past, but to stop I have to do it on my own terms. Maybe when I have the strength to stop one day. For now, I am thankful for cigarettes. They helped me through dark days. They make this Lockdown bearable…

(c) 2020 Allen Wolfie Simpson

*Vissie is a fictive name for a real person.