Jitters of That First Secret Puff We Took in College

Published: 10th September 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th September 2015 10:53 PM   |  A+A-

A few days back while reading the newspaper, this word “VAPE” caught my attention. Every year the Oxford Dictionary adds many new words and one of them is selected as the word of the year. In 2013, it was the word “SELFIE”, which today’s new generation is very familiar with. In 2014, the word voted was “VAPE”, which means the process of inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette. A Vape pen is an electronic cigarette.

This word reminded me of an incident that took place over 30 years ago. After my schooling in a convent school, when I reached college, I sensed a feeling of “Dejavu”. A sense of new-found freedom. No uniforms, no pigtails, no heavy school satchels, no teachers to keep admonishing. Last but not the best, no more Do’s and Don’ts. It was this new found freedom that gave me and a close friend of mine to do something I would not even have dared to think about in school days. As a kid, I used to watch people smoke cigarettes. I was very much intrigued by the smoke exhaled. Some were dextrous in letting out the rings smoke. This curiosity bug was biting me and I came to know the same bug was biting my friend as well. We finally decided to take the plunge, well take the puff to be precise, and resolved to smoke a cigarette and see what it was all about.

The million dollar question was where to get the cigarette from. We had just entered college as teenagers. The awesomeness of being college students had still not forsaken us. There were some boys who, unmindful of the dreaded ragging, put on a brave front and hung around the cafeteria and verandah with a cigarette between their lips. Show-offs, we called them. Smoking was considered macho. Some such boys came to college in latest filmy get-ups aping the heroes of hit films. Bell bottoms, long hair, sideburns and a cigarette to boot with. We initially thought of asking one such hero for a cigarette, but beware said our brain. It cautioned us on the outrage it would cause. Common sense prevailed and finally my friend said she would pinch it from her brother. She was sure he would not complain or raise a hue and a cry as he himself was smoking on the sly. He knew hell would break loose, if his parents got a puff of it, I mean a whiff of it.

On the D-day, both of us were restless in class. We waited for lunch break with excitement and trepidation. The lunch gong saw us scuttling out. We had a hasty lunch and went to a secluded spot. The sylvan settings provided a perfect hideout. My friend took out the fag with a flourish, not forgetting the match box. Being the procurer, she first took a long puff and passed it on. Before I could put it in between my lips, she started coughing vigorously. In spite of seeing the repercussion, thinking I would be betraying her if I did not follow suit, I also did the inhale-exhale act and the same coughing bout hit me. Our eyes started watering. For some time we were coughing, clutching on to each other. With her permission I flung the cigarette away.

When the coughing stopped we went to the ladies lounge, rinsed our mouths and put peppermints in our mouth to hide any tell-tale signs. Like the saying goes “Curiosity killed the cat”, our curiosity regarding smoking began and ended all too soon. Till date, I keep wondering what pleasure that act of inhaling exhaling smoke gives one. Well readers, how about going in for a “Vape Pen”?   shobsunni@gmail.com

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