By Ajay Parikh
I was fifteen years old when I somehow picked up the habit of smoking. One night, as I was outside my home with friends smoking, I spotted my older brother from twenty feet away, walking in my direction. As soon as he passed me I quickly crushed the burning cigarette in my hand, forming a visible burn on my right palm. But little did I know, I had already been caught. No one had ever smoked in my family before and I was the first person to ever try it, so I was nervous of what would happen if the rest of my family found out.
The next morning, my father called me into his office and I was immediately filled with fear, as I thought my brother told him about what he had seen the night prior. When I stepped into his office, he asked me to present my hand and I assumed he was going to beat it with a stick. This was a form of punishment I usually received upon wrongdoing. I even saw the stick in the corner of the room, which elevated my panic. As I raised my palm to him, he asked how I received the burn mark; I decided to tell him the truth. I told him about the incident and that I was sorry. He sternly replied, “Ajay, you’re fifteen years old. You’re not old enough to understand the consequences involved with smoking.” Because I was honest in telling the truth, he decided not to hit me on my palm but asked me for a promise. “As punishment, you must promise me you will not smoke until you graduate from college.” As my father requested, I kept my word up until graduation day. When I came to the United States I was able to hold out for a while, but I later picked up the habit once again. I believed that now that I was “grown-up” and was making my own money, I could make my own decisions and my father would not mind me smoking, as I had kept his promise. Since then, I smoked for a few years, got married, and had a beautiful daughter.
One day when I was at the park with my daughter, she asked me for dessert from an ice cream truck nearby. She was only five years old. I told her we had it at home and we didn’t need to spend the money on ice cream from the ice cream truck, which immediately resulted in her crying. At the same time, instead of becoming frustrated with her, I realized that I spent more money on cigarettes in a day than on an ice cream and asked myself, “What kind of father am I to spend that money on myself, but not on my daughter?” It was that very moment that I took my cigarette and threw it on the ground, vowing never to pick up another again. I then dried her tears and bought her ice cream.
The main takeaway is that quitting a habit is not about patches or programs; it’s about willpower and resilience: the ability to keep your word and overcome the practice for yourself. It may take time to do so, as it took me many years to give up smoking. I didn’t have a solid reason to actually quit until I recognized how hypocritical I was for purchasing cigarettes and not ice cream for my daughter. Since that moment, I became only a recreational smoker – smoking cigars once or twice a year, but not nearly as frequent as before. The hard realization that my smoking ultimately had an effect on my family aside from just myself helped me to figure out my priorities.
As a Tax Director, Ajay Parikh helps various individuals and businesses with tax planning and tax compliance issues. He has over ten years of experience. If you would like to speak with Ajay, you may reach him at 973.994.9400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.