How I Managed to Stop Smoking

Ariel Glaria Enriquez

A Havana police station.

HAVANA TIMES – The following events happened when I had exhausted every other resource I had to stop smoking, so I locked myself in jail. I had calculated that if I went three whole days without putting a cigarette in my mouth, I would never smoke again.

A policeman and neighbor of mine (in Cuba, you always have a neighbor for something, and police officers are often the most frequent), managed to get me into a holding cell at the police station he was at.

Taking his advice, I took a toothbrush, a towel and a sheet. He also suggested I take a pillow, but I forgot it at the last moment before leaving. I went there on a Thursday afternoon.

I had brought along a book that I had managed to get a hold of in the last moment and which I ended up using for more practical reasons than sophisticated ones as there wasn’t much light in my cell (just a yellow hue three meters above my head).

The moment my eyes got used to that dim light of captivity, I was hit by the fact that I was in a damp and dark cell, out of my own choosing. This gave rise to a sudden feeling that nobody is innocent.

Once alone, the first thing I did was figure out the dimensions of my cell, like they do in movies. Because just like in the movies, it felt like it was my own.

The floor was concrete, completely flat and without any dividing lines. I measured it in steps first. Which gave me the doubtful proportions of a perfect square. It was three steps wide and almost four steps long. Then, I measured it by the size of my feet, but I forgot that result.

I do, however, remember that during these measurements, I discovered the WC in a corner of the cell. It was clean, but I became wary of the generosity of my neighbor, the policeman. I thought he didn’t like me really and that he had taken advantage of the situation to get his revenge and put me in the most unpleasant cell at the station.

That idea (which was only justified by my suspicious nature), gave me reason to look outside my cell. I did this through the only available space; a classic window in a cell set into the iron door, square and with thick iron bars that my head could just about get through.

Up against the bars, like in any movie still, I could see in the dim light and silence, the stairs and a stretch of the narrow corridor I had walked down that afternoon.

Giving up, I slid down the wall to the hard concrete floor and wrapped in my sheet, I spent my first night without smoking.   

To be continued…

Ariel Glaria

Ariel Glaria Enriquez: I was born in Havana Cuba in 1969. I am proud bearer of an endangered concept: habanero. I don’t know of another city, therefore life in it along with its customs, joys and pain are the biggest reason why I write. I studied mechanical drawing, but I am working as a restorer. I dream of a Havana with the splendor and importance it once had.