Too much of everything
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I was curious when I read in a foreign magazine that great writers are normally smokers. I kept thinking whether that was true of Sikaman writers, because I know quite a good number of brilliant writers in this country who are not locomotives. But I may be wrong. Probably they puff when I am not looking, or only when they are writing. When they stop writing they cease to be smokers.
According to the article in the magazine, the cigarette ‘helps them to think’. It is not because their minds are stimulated by the nicotine, but the fact that just holding the stick between the lips, puffing smoke, exhaling through the nostrils and tapping away the ash just keep them forming ideas
Before long, they would be seen scribbling away as sticks of cigarette get burnt into ashes. And society judges them the best writers. That’s quite interesting, isn’t it? And one writer actually confessed that he couldn’t have been a successful novelist without cigarettes.
Well, that’s the world. What is generally harmful to people is said to be beneficial to others after all. It is just like booze and sex. Alcohol destroys the liver, can damage brain cells, induce hypertension and cause social problems.
But alcohol is such that when a total ban is placed on its production and sale in Sikaman, there is likely to be a coup d’etat within a week. Who doesn’t drink, anyway?
Civil servants imbibe alcohol to cure their financial malaria. A husband will take it if he wants to go and insult his mother-in-law for interfering in his marriage.
People charge their brains with alcohol when they are going to collect debts from stubborn debtors. Students take it when they are going to collect their results slips.
Go to the pastors, catechists and reverends and ask them to confess their alcoholic improprieties. Some of them will be sincere and justify their alcoholic dispositions by quoting direct from the Holy Bible.
Timothy was advised to take a little alcohol for the sake of his stomach. But ‘little’ can always be subjective, and that is the loophole that is normally exploited by resident clergymen.
In any case, they can always give the excuse that they have ‘kooko’ and that a famous herbalist had made some concoction for them.
They’ll tell you that it is unfortunate the herbs can only work in alcohol, and that they can’t help doing with it.
When the evening meal is fufu, the holy-man must increase the dosage for an obvious reason – appetite.
But alcohol is most helpful in some spiritual and charismatic churches, when the Holy Ghost can almost be seen moving among the congregation. During such an occasion, the sermon must be extra-lively and the ‘preacherman’ must ‘charge’ to loosen his tongue, to improve the sweetness and quality of the sermon.
“Begone Satan! Begone! “He’d cry out, probably mistaking Satan for the Holy Spirit. He’d taken a bit too much of the stuff and when that happens, you can be sure of an ecclesiastical disaster.
The theme of the sermon will completely be ignored and the drunken pastor, now extra-lively, will start preaching on how to fight the thief who wants to relieve you of your salary. Too much of everything is bad, is the saying.
Take food for instance. Well-cooked, finely spiced food is always delectable to the human palate. But when you take in an overdose and your stomach becomes like a good side-drum and distended, then you are likely to have a nightmare. You’ll start dreaming about cows chasing you here and there and you’ll jump out of sleep to avoid a cow’s leg crashing into your face.
But too soon, you’ll relapse into sleep and start a new dream; seeing yourself falling into a bottomless pit. You’ll scream and someone sleeping in the same room with you will wake you up.
“What’s happening to you?” he’d ask.
“Oh nothing. Just a dream”.
Anyhow, sooner or later, the real symptoms of over-feeding will start showing. You’ll start passing wind indiscriminately and your room mate will start requesting for oxygen lest he suffocates.
“Did you eat too much last night?”
“Yes, the banku was superb, so I took double-dose”.
Yes, your room mate has truly seen. Henceforth, he’ll start timing you. When he sees that you’ve over-eaten, he’d try to avoid the room and sleep on the veranda. He cannot afford to die young.
Coming back to cigarettes, it is generally acceptable that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health, and the Surgeon General has always confirmed it on cigarette packs. Quite paradoxically, doctors are the most inveterate smokers.
In Sikaman, smoking is a habit to some people, but because of poverty they can’t afford to become chain-smokers.
They can afford at most six sticks a day and that is quite moderate. So in effect poverty is saving them from cancer of the lungs.
The prevalence of lung cancer in the developed countries is due to the fact that chain-smoking is a normal phenomenon.
The more you smoke, the more vulnerable you become to disease. MODERATION is, therefore, the solution because habits cannot easily be done away with altogether.
How dare you tell Kofi Owuo, alias Death By Poverty, that he should go to toilet to off-load without taking along cigarettes.
He once told me, “Although I’ve vowed to be poor all my life, I won’t stop smoking. Jot keeps me going. When I get my favourite brand of cigarette and I don’t even get food, I’m okay”.
Yes, Kofi Owuo, a former classmate of mine, took the Oath Of Poverty several years back. But he can always afford his ‘jot’ because without it, he wouldn’t live long. “If I don’t smoke one day, you’ll see me at the mortuary”, he told me.
Perhaps, it is only when there is a total ban on the cultivation of tobacco, its production and distribution that the world will really know that it cannot do without some vices like smoking.
There will be an immediate uproar. Millions of people in tobacco farming, processing and distribution will lose their jobs. Addicts will go haywire and start a riot. Soldiers will take up arms against incumbent governments
The old men who are addicted to snuff (asra), alias rural cocaine, will embark upon a countrywide demonstration.
The snuff keeps them going. When they take it and sneeze hard, they feel good. They may develop cancer of the nose, but that’s nobody’s business. It is the business of their own noses.
I’ve known people who will vomit if they don’t smoke after eating. Some take cigarettes to release tension and others smoke to keep them happy. So which is which? To stop or not to stop!