Sam does not smoke; at least no more at present. In his boyhood days, he used to inhale an occasional puff or two from a friend maybe, but not now. Smoking does not fascinate him, in spite of Nancy being fond of that acrid tobacco smell. She calls it an 'intellectual smell' on a man who is supposed to be a thinker. Sam knows it to be absurd, but you do not always love a girl for her normalcy.
Nancy loves to read, predominantly fictions of the different genre. So does Sam. That was how they met, in a library. It was about five years back. Sam was just out of his college and had joined as a clerk in an export agency. Nancy did not start her freelance journalism yet. They talked of books. Sam talked about his hidden desire to be an author. Yet, the desire has only remained a desire all these years. Sam could come out with nothing of substance in all these years as he continued with his prosaic job. Yet, they kept trusting each other, though never thought of getting married.
If Sam thought writing fiction is easy, he was in for heartbreak. He had imagined so many situations, only to discover these to be already plotted by his predecessors. He did not believe in run-of-the-mill stuff. He wanted to come out with something special that would not only evoke interest in Nancy, but also in the entire prospective audience. He tried his hands in poetry as well. But so many stalwarts of present and yesteryears seemed to have penned his ideas already. He was at his wit's end.
Nancy is a believer of psychic things; not that Sam approves of it. Only yesterday, she came up with this smoking pipe. Seemingly, some soothsayer gave it to her.
"Smoke from this pipe, and that is going to change your life." There was a mystique smile on her lips.
"All pipe-smokers would be millionaires in such a case." Sam could only manage a croaky cough.
"Believing or not is up to you. The only thing I can say is maybe you are missing the chance of a lifetime." Nancy had walked away breezily.
Hope, they say, is a queer thing. It keeps dwindling and creeping up. 'There is no harm in giving it a try,' thought Sam the next day. 'What if nothing comes up? As such, I am in no great position. Then, miracles do happen at times.'
The thought kept hovering in his mind throughout the day. As he returned home at dusk, he thought it worth giving a try. He chose the secluded bench near an abandoned lake for a trial. He was almost sure that nothing was going to come out of such weird workout. Finally, he would have to hide a blush. Nothing could be better than a forlorn place as this.
'What will happen? A genie like that from Aladdin's lamp will come out of the pipe as soon as I lit it?' mused Sam. 'What do you wish me to do for you, Master? - It will ask. Give me never-before plots for stories that will shoot me to fame. - I will say. How far-fetched! Hah!' He felt ridiculous. He felt like leaving the place.
The next moment he struck the matchbox with a stick and the stick caught flame that looked ordinary. Surprisingly, he noticed his hand trembling. Finally, he lit the pipe.
Nothing extraordinary happened. A coil of bluish white smoke emerged from the top of pipe emitting the flavour of scented tobacco. Creech!---- A homebound bird chirped in a rebuking manner at a distance.
'Hell! Shouldn't have believed in such tomfoolery! Now I made a mockery of myself.' Sam leaned on the backrest of the bench in frustration. He inhaled a mouthful of smoke only to blow it out shortly.
'Where does this smoke come from?' he wondered. 'Obviously from fire,' pat came the reply from within. 'Now, where does the fire come from?' came the vital question. Sam loves to philosophise. 'Fire is different depending on its source. A fireplace blazes with a different nature of fire than that of a smoking pipe. Again, the fire in this pipe is different from that in an incense-stick. Yet every fire has got a charm of its own.' Sam remained pensive, though in a subdued mood.
Then it changed all of a sudden to that of elation. 'Fire!' he wondered, 'fire is the answer. The fire has to be from within and indigenous. It has to reflect my ingenuity the same way this pipe reflects its own brand of fire! There is no place for a copycat in style of writing. Let my brand have its own flavour like the smoke from the pipe. Wonder why it didn't occur to me so long! Thus, the expressions are bound to be apt, not necessarily adorned with superfluous ideas or pompous words!'
While surfing the net at night, Sam came across a global literary webzine, PICNSTORY. They invited submissions from authors all over for stories based on a variety of pictures displayed therein. A popular website as this could serve as a launching pad for his onward literary journey. However, the number of stories published each month was very limited. He went through a few of these. 'These are classy pieces,' he reflected. 'However, I can match them if I remain honest to myself.' He brimmed with his newfound confidence.
Picture ID: 72 gave him a jolt. 'Hey, the man with the pipe looks so similar to me! Even the surroundings are similar! It begs me to reproduce what I went through today.'
He did so and was published. That was how a great literary voyage started.
"Your smoking pipe was magical," told Sam Fernandez, the phenomenal author, two years later to his lovely wife, Nancy, in a cosy night. Yes, they got married a few months back. Sam still does not smoke. Nancy does not mind now.