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how to smoke a cigarette

Senthuran Varatharajah | Updated on January 24, 2020 Published on January 24, 2020

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step one:

Open it open it and pull the cigarette pull it from the pack pull it softly pull it with your lips she said don’t damage the filter because your teeth are fragile enough i can see that now pull it as if this was only a bone a bone clean as a sentence or simply another cigarette a cigarette a man older than you would light in a movie you’re still too young to have seen but you would have felt it somewhere i promise that you would have felt something like hunger in the width of your lungs when you hear the sound of a lighter in an empty right hand for the first time don’t lie to me i know you press your lips against your right upper arm every night to practise kissing on a limb she said can you see it look look closer so this is ash and this is ash and now imagine rain imagine rain coming down on us like a reversed prayer flick the cigarette be gentle don’t cough don’t forget to inhale when you set things on fire remember she said with something like patience and november in her voice remember how your mother spends her days watching birds collide because god probably does the same but without detergent in his hands so why don’t we just cut them off remember the softest skin belongs to trees since their limbs are reaching towards every sky that humiliates us remember remember remember to exhale she said till you won’t remember anything but the seven names that were not given to you she said because war because genocide because refugee say refugee say refugee spell refuse misspell refuel because the invention of the ship is the invention of the shipwreck so the invention of our body is the invention of hold it hold it hold it properly hold it between your index and middle finger hold your thought don’t cough take another pull take another lover back to your place only to wish they wouldn’t stay for the night because there are things we do to stay alive she said but you’re still young she said you’re still too young you still have time to measure the seize and weight of a throat so now imagine there would be rain coming down on us can you see it coming when i run out of metaphors but there’s still grammar so yes everything is here it can be said that nothing is here too now exhale she said exhale like you will when your father tells you that he is nothing but the bullet that arrived in a singhalese officer’s forehead right on time because look can you see the smoke because because because f**k this shit because this f**king war will have survived us like only war does so stand upright next time when your father’s belt will remind you that an object is just an object and a body barely a body so we can finally call it religion remember that smoke looks like empty speech bubbles and that it’s not gravity that keeps our heads and arms down it’s just shame for someone else has always died instead of us inhale take a deep breath hold the cigarette hold it between the first and second knuckle palm facing down hold it she said hold it and keep the smoke and your prayers in your mouth for a little longer so you’ll understand that if a country sets you on fire burn this f**king country down. now stub it out.

Senthuran Varatharajah

 

Senthuran Varatharajah is a novelist based in Berlin. The English translation of his debut novel is forthcoming from Yoda Press

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Published on January 24, 2020
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