A Cigarette Half Finished



You had come over
To resolve a fight before you left
We all sat together once again
Chatting and laughing
Till you asked me to prepare a pizza for you.
You just loved it the way I baked it
Grudging that I’ll miss all the fun
But happy that we were together again
I cooked all that you desired to eat.


Not a smoker, though,
You had managed to buy a few
From the street vendor who sold it loose.
With elders out, we tried one.
Then just as suddenly you lighted it
You put it off.
Before leaving you left that
Half finished cigarette and told me
To keep it safe; you’ll finish it on coming back.


But only the news of you came
Swept away by the merciless sea.
Everyone’s body was found but yours
God was testing our patience; it took a week to find you
Fished out; in a terrible condition
Half eaten; recognizable only by the sacred threads
Tied by pehi*on your waist and neck…
The dreaded wait was over; we stood defeated by fate
While you crossed the border between life and death.


Those horrible moments
Are still etched in my memory.
I was 19 then, and now at 46 also I feel your loss.
Ah…!! That unfinished cigarette…!
I could not throw it away, I could not keep it.
Lest mum discovered it
And thought that I indulged in smoking.
So even though I didn’t smoke I finished it.
I smoked it till the butt burnt my lips and my fingers.
All the while shedding silent tears
I knew you wouldn’t be coming back to finish it now….

*Pehi- father’s sister in Assamese language
All thanks to  Jane for prompting me to write down my hurt and purge it from my system…Even after so many years, I haven’t gotten over the pain of losing my cousin brother, Partho Jyoti Dutta. Sometimes some wounds always stay raw I guess… you can block them in your memory… but when you see or hear something even remotely connected to it… it becomes raw again


© All Rights Reserved.
©Ranjeeta Nath Ghai,  atrangizindagieksafar, 2016.

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