Words Can Help Win Battles

Sikha wearily said, “These folks who preach about no tobacco day and come up with so many posts on social media must be kidding themselves. I might just read a post and like it or share it and move on with my life. Do you think someone would really stop and think about it?” Naina didn’t respond for a while. After a long pause, Naina said, “They should.”


Sikha and Naina were roommates in Coimbatore, where they both worked for a Bank. On their days off from work, Sikha usually hung out with friends or watched a movie with some relatives. Naina spent her off days doing workshops and conducting talks in schools and colleges creating awareness about tobacco abuse. She always said in her talks that the fight was real. It was hard, long drawn and seemed insurmountable. But the war could be won.


When Sikha trivialized social media’s outstretched arms and all the hollering it did from every platform, warning people to quit smoking, aim to live better lives, take precaution against cancerous habits, Naina was visibly perturbed. She continued from where she left, “Sikha, I spend hours every weekend volunteering to council, write blogs and conduct seminars on the subject- in schools, colleges and rehabilitation centers. Do you mean to say that the world is indifferent to my efforts? That the people I interact with will not spend more than a minute listening to what I say and go back to smoking away their lives?”


Hastily, Sikha responded, “No, no! I did not mean that. You are a very good orator. People will listen to you. But how far do you think you can influence people’s lives? Will your words change someone’s life altogether? Do mere words have that power? No offence meant. I was just asking.” Naina got up from their living room couch and walked to her bedroom. She did not have the will to meet Sikha’s eyes just then. Before closing the door though, she said, “I am glad someone’s words helped me through my battle. And I sure hope someone who reads mine will be helped too. One battle won is one life saved.”


Naina stood just behind the shut door for a whole minute. A myriad of emotions flooded her senses. Guilt, hopelessness, desperation, the struggle, being ostracized by family and friends, the rehabilitation home, the peers, the temptation, the resistance, some words, the last leg of the marathon battle and the final victory. She walked to her closet and stretched herself to reach the far left hanger. All her clothes hung neatly and smelled of lavender, except a wrinkled old shirt that she hid in the far left. Hung on it was a tale of addiction and the battle that saved her life. The shirt reeked of cigarette stench.


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