I saw him knock on the door of Pedro’s house. He stretched out his hand holding money and left with the packet in hand. He must have been barely nine. While he was walking I saw him raise the little box to his nose, close his eyes and take a deep whiff. Anyone would have thought he had breathed in the aroma of some kind of extremely rich candy.
At Pedro’s house they sell cigarettes; it was a way the family found to survive the disastrous years of the 1990s, and that custom has persisted. It’s normal that people try to improve their family budget.
What’s different about that place is that around there parade everyone from police officers addicted to smoking, pregnant women, sick old people, drivers from the bus stop on the corner… and even young kids who come to buy poison for their parents.
Pedro is well along in years now, but at one time he was known as a correct person, someone of principles, recognized as being among the “National Vanguard” on his job and an active participant in activities carried out on his block.
When one speaks of someone worthy of respect, immediately his name comes to the mind of any neighbor. However, for Pedro —that integral person, filled with good values— the crime his family is committing doesn’t cross his mind.
Placed in the vortex of survival, he forgets that childhood should be a time of clean healthy dreams. Their games should be innocent, until they grow up and collide with the harshness of daily life.
Someone (among the few who noticed the situation) once told Pedro he shouldn’t sell cigarettes to minors, but he smiled obliviously and said, “It’s that their parents send them…”
It’s true that parents should instead be putting sweets, books and toys in the hands of their children, but it’s also true that Pedro and his family are contributing to opening the doors of addiction to little ones in process of growth.
Isn’t it better that they choose —when they’re mature— whether they will or won’t enter the world of tobacco?