SHORT STORIES/MICRO TALE · storytelling

Cough Cough (World No Tobacco Day)

A train from Mumbai Central gained some speed as passengers were settling down. Kids grabbing the window seats; Sharma Ji sinking his eyes in The Economic Times; Miss Fernandes pleading for a lower berth seat for her grandma; Mr. Oberoi and his 3 friends spreading a blanket in between them to play cards; and the railway staff handing out blankets and pillows to the passengers. Everyone knew the drill for this 16-hr train journey, except for Rohit. It was his first journey, and he coughed and coughed.

One could hear phlegm vibrating in his cough.
One could feel the friction of air in his windpipe.
One could see him in pain.

And those who couldn’t, felt irritated because of his “cough cough”.

“How could railway allow a sick person to board train?” Mr. Oberoi said and threw a lower suite card on the blanket.

“Maybe he smokes a lot!” his friend, Mr. Khan, said while adjusting his cards.

“They smoke to look cool and then choke and look like a fool.” Mr. Asthana said and smirked.

“cough cough”
“Cccccough Coooough”

“Maybe he’s an oldie. Whatever, here’s my Badshah, SEEP!” My Oberoi grinned.

Sharma Ji, overheard the conversation of these 4 people playing cards from his seat across the compartment. Rohit was in the next one. He took out a cough pill from his leather side bag and went to the next compartment to see this coughing man.

And he saw a two-year-old Rohit sitting next to his grandfather. His grandfather was sporting a khaki kurta, with a bundle of bidi in his front pocket, and a perturbed lower lip.

Rohit’s mother was caressing her son’s back and preparing a concoction from a dark-coloured bottle.

Sharma Ji saw Rohit’s eyes, which had tears of pain and a message of sorts: It’s not my fault.

PS – Passive smoking is equally dangerous and many innocent children or teens are suffering due to deeds of others.
You have the choice of not caring about your health, but please think about your and other children’s health.

Let’s give them a better world; a better environment to breathe.



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