I looked at Uncle Jamil’s body slowly being lowered into his grave. Tears threatened to blur my vision as I restrained my urge to grab Uncle Jamil’s body and shake it till he woke up again. Even the sight of his grave seemed unreal. It felt as though I was in a horrible dream. I kept waiting to wake up and realize that everything was alright but that didn’t happen. The lung cancer had been real, the hospital stay, the failed surgery; it was all real. My younger brother hugged me, making no attempt at hiding his tears. He was only ten years old and he had lost the only father figure in his life. I placed my arm around him, not sure if it was him or myself that I was consoling.
When I was eight years old my parents died in a crash. Since then Uncle Jamil, my father’s brother had moved in with us. He was a free-spirited man who hadn’t wanted to be shackled with any responsibility so he had never married. He owned a real estate business that gave him enough leverage to do whatever he wanted with his free time. Most of his expenditure involved expensive cars and heavy bikes. His other great love was cigarette smoking. There was never a day that went by when I didn’t see a cigarette in his hand. I was in awe of him. He had been to so many places and he seemed to know so much about everything. I decided to be just like him and so I tried my first cigarette.
When Uncle Jamil discovered that I had taken up smoking he was not pleased. That wasn’t the reaction I had been expecting. I had been under the false impression that he would take this imitation as a sincere form of flattery. Uncle Jamil explained to me how it was bad for my health but I wasn’t convinced. If it were that bad he would’ve given up smoking himself. So I continued smoking and eventually, there came a time when Uncle Jamil stopped asking me to quit. I felt as though I had won a personal battle and it made me feel like an adult. What I didn’t know was that my uncle was about to lose the most important battle of his life. He became diagnosed with Lung Cancer.
The day I buried Uncle Jamil it felt as though I had lost a piece of myself. Unrelentlessly I wish I could turn back time so I could somehow convince him to quit instead of joining in his addiction. I couldn’t bear to look at cigarettes again. Their odor reminded me of the father figure they had taken away from me and my brother. I know I will never touch cigarettes again as long as I live. I only have my brother and he only has me. There are already enough dangers in this world that we have to face than to have a foe in the shape of a friend ruining our lives.