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ADDICTIONS

I Will Quit. Soon

Three packets of cigarettes were lying there on the pavement. I hopped down from Yefim Shubentsov’s office doorstep, picked them up and pocketed them. Later, in a bar, when I opened the first pack, I found to my delight the twenty cigarettes intact.

I’m still at the bar, phone in one hand, the cigarettes in the other. I’m dialling Shubentsov, who told me to call the moment I felt the urge to smoke. I feel it, feel it even stronger than I felt Shubentsov’s healing energy. That’s saying something, since Shubentsov is known around the world for curing smokers of their nasty habit, using a mystical method. He transmits his healing energy from his fingertips, he tells me – something he picked up from another bloke in Russia. ‘I help you for free’. He told me with an accent. ‘Just call me whenever’.

I went to see Shubentsov because I think it’s time to stop. Time to stop because I am getting old, and I can’t keep doing this to myself. But here’s the real problem. I should quit, but like a lot of struggling with the same habit, I really don’t want to. At least, not yet.

Smoking has been very good to me. Cigarettes have never let me down, never abandoned me on lonely, desperate nights. Smoking clears my head, helps me think. Smoking has started conversations, driven away annoying people. Smoking helps me celebrate victories, get over losses, comfort the comfortless. It also chases away the mosquitoes.

I will quit. Soon. My body and my mind are demanding that I do, daily.

I claim to smoke for pleasure, but I realise that slowly, steadily, I am losing control of this close, special friend. I hate that. I realise it’s not just a ‘habit’, I’m hooked.

So here I am, attempting to give up again, at Shubentsov’s place. I’ve tried all other quitting techniques available. Any time the urge to smoke strikes, he said, just call him immediately and he’ll help. The funny thing is, I realise that I’m not phoning him to stop me from lighting up. I’m phoning him so I can. If I call, I’ll have done my part. Then I can smoke this cigarette. Besides, I know that at 9.30 on Friday night, I’ll get the answering machine. I do. ‘The office is open ten to four. Call me back then. This machine does not take messages.’

I put the phone down and I can honestly say I’m relieved. You see, it’s not Shubentsov’s fault or anyone else’s fault that I am smoking. It’s mine.

Now if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to smoke this cigarette. Whether I’ll really enjoy it. Though, is another story.