Talyan fel Kass —The Story of Caffeine and Nicotine that nobody will tell you about.

talyan fel kass

I’ve always wanted to write about the news, but each and every time I tried, I failed miserably.

As a matter of fact, I don’t read the news. De facto, it was very long in the past that I have stroked a newspaper with my hands; the process of turning pages always turned out to be a mess, a pain in the neck.

I was a young boy of twelve when I last held one. At that time, it made me look older than I was, and I liked to have something to discuss over the endless family suppers. I just loved to be regarded as an intellectual. So, when I cause any sort of trouble (which I always did), no finger would be pointed towards me, because « No, Aymen’s too good to do something like that ». I’d simply get away with my foolishness and never take the blame.

As for now, a decade later, I am at the neighbourhood’s café shop, where coffee only costs 8 dirhams, and where people spend the lion’s share of their daytime. They all look the same as if the café owner copied his most loyal costumer and pasted him on every single table. Middle-aged and old men, with caps on top of their heads and, most importantly, a lot of spare time in their lives.

I didn’t need to look at the menu, for that strong black coffee was the only thing ordered on almost all tables. « Talyan fel Kass », I ordered as the waiter looked my way. He nodded and immediately forwarded to the barman -whose luck doesn’t come with any tips. The expression, as it came off my mouth, sounded like some universal language making me feel like a coffee expert. I have fleetingly grown very fond and attached to the coffee shop’s aura.

It was 9 in the morning of a cold Saturday day as winter rain was pouring outside. The rain pitter-patter sounded in pure harmony with coffee pounding and people’s indistinct conversations about everything and nothing. A mixture of noises that would’ve doubtlessly inspired Beethoven’s 10th Symphony had he still been alive. But Symphony X was missing a note, I needed a cigarette.

On every table, in addition to the mighty « Talyan fel Kass » and newspapers, was an unreal display of all brand cigarettes. Caffeine and nicotine seemed like a paper reading routine. Without thinking twice, I selected the only man who seemed to have a packet of cigarettes and asked him for a smoke. Surprised, he reached to his pack and handed me one as he murmured words I couldn’t recognize, which sounded something like « Allah ye3fou ». I was lost of comebacks.

I picked the newspapers on the way back to my seat, but it was only a few seconds later that I returned to him with a half-smile on my red embarrassed cheeks, asking for a lighter. He smiled mockingly and asked if it was my first time. (A lot of scenes came knocking at the door of my dirty mind as I heard « first time »). « First time is a big word », I thought to myself. It must’ve been my lips color or the fact that I wasn’t carrying a lighter. I don’t know. He’s surely smoked enough to feel certain about his guess. A lot of answers came to my mind, none was pleasant. « There’s a first time for everything », I replied.

Once again on my seat which started to feel like my personal space, my zone of comfort. I used the chemical reaction between oxygen atoms and magnesium to light up my cigarette. First puff, a cough was released from miles away in my stomach as if my respiratory system were wondering « What have you just made me inhale? ». I then reached my hand to my « Talyan fel Kass » that sent bitterness to my soul. The second puff left my lungs even more confused. I could feel my blood cells and my whole immune system in reunion, all working together to fight the 69 cancer-causing chemicals that were flooding in my blood. I made it even harsher for my immune system to fight as I took another puff.

Feeling dizzy, phlegmatic and extremely thoughtful, I put my cigarette in the ashtray as I overthought my whole existence while I watched smoke fade in the air. I, too, faded into the atmosphere and sipped again from my coffee that filled me up like mercury in a thermometer and gave me the warmth that I was so desperately craving. 10 puffs and 15 sips were the sums of my journey of both immediate and side effects. A journey that would definitely leave me addicted to coffee shops, nicotine and caffeine. But I don’t care, I never did!

See, the article is about finish and I still haven’t written about the news.

No longer a virgin, I am finally ready to read the newspaper. What’s in there to talk about anyway? A morally deranged world that only speaks the language of benefit and deficit? What’s in the news that interests me anyway? A bloody football game that everyone talks about before, while and after it’s played? Celebrities with their filthily rich lives and stupid problems? A never-ending war in the middle east area Terrorism? Donald Trump?…..

Writer’s note 9 months after submitting the article:
Your first puffs will probably make you fall in love with cigarettes. Blowing smoke out of your mouth will give you instant satisfaction and will open your eyes to a world that was unknown to you.

Cigarettes will give you company in your long walks, your long hours of waiting will become bearable, and you’ll start loving the fact that your favorite movies’ characters are smokers too. You’ll find solace in every cigarette smoke. But at the end of the day, it’s just a cancer stick you’re placing between your fingers.

One cigarette will lead you to another, each will drag you to a battle you have no chance of winning. But you wouldn’t know!

Puffs will become cigarettes, cigarettes packets, and soon you’ll enter a rabbit hole of pointless drugs, because smoking just doesn’t do it for you anymore. Funny thing is you’ll be thinking that you have everything under control… that you can stop anytime you want!

Then one day, you’ll wake up wondering: Why do the things–that have once defined my happiness–not make me happy anymore? Why is pleasure so hard to find without nicotine in my body? Have I become an addict?

P.S: if you reach this point, it’s probably too late. You’re already an addict, and it’ll take a big fight to quit.

Now that you know how it feels like to smoke your first cigarette, don’t make the same mistake of « trying » as everyone else. So, next time your feet get past the coffee shop’s main door, make sure to look directly into the waiter’s eyes and order: « just Talyan fel Kass ». And if you ever feel the need to sound as a coffee expert, just ask him not to put sugar in your coffee.


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Aymen Cherqi

Academically speaking, I am a Marketing undergraduate at ENCG-C, but I happen to be in Marrakech for my Final-year Project at Pokemag. Factually, I've invested the last 3 years of my life to help getting this project to where it is now. I am now the editor-in-chief and you're all welcome to make this magazine home to your thoughts.


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