Moderate by nature and brought up strictly by his father and elder borther, Mihailo had smoked little before; but from that time on he smoked constantly and passionately. He discovered that this permanent little flame before his eyes was a blessing and that the same purple smoke which tickles the eyes and the throat made it possible for a man to shed a tear without weeping, and, in exhaling the smoke, to sigh without sighing. So this flame shone before his eyes or burned between his fingers for many years to come. The smoke, always the same and yet forever varied, helped prevent his thoughts from reverting to what he feared most, and in exceptionally tranquil hours guided him into a state of complete oblivion and forgetfulness; it fed him, like bread, and comforted him, like a friend. At night he would dream about smoking as others dream of encounters with those they love. But when his dreams turned into nightmares and he thought he saw Krsto’s body or Krstinitsa’s eyes, he would awaken with a cry, seize tobacco as one would a pistol, or as those who do not sleep alone would seise somebody’s hand. And as soon as the flint had ignited in the dark, and the tobacco had caught the sparks, he would relax and with the invisible smoke he would blow away the burden from his agitated mind.
Ivo Andric, The Vizier’s Elephant. Three novellas. Chicago: Gateway, 1970, 83-84.