I picked up the filthy habit of smoking at the age of 16, though I don’t smoke as much as I used to — I don’t deprive myself the pleasure of having one, every once in a while.
I was on break from university during the Christmas holidays, visiting back to home to a familiar neighbourhood with different faces.
My usual spot for sneaking a ciggie every once in a while was my trustee balcony, one that I’d cuddle up on in the corner so as not to be bothered or be witnessed.
At the age of 25, one tends to think they’ve earned their right to freedom and its easy to forget; we’ll always be children to our parents.
It was a day like any other, I’d woken up early and had just returned from running errands around down and driving along the roads that were all so familiar to me.
I’d find a group, gathered amongst the lounge, a crowd of people I was quite unfamiliar with; my neighbours.
The lady gave me a look of disgust as I said hello and we greeted one another, as she shrugged me off as though I was not worthy of a simple exchange of formality.
I took it was a sign that this just wasn’t the time, so as it goes, and chose to resort to my humble cave upstairs and read in solitude whilst watching “Instant Karma” clips on YouTube.
A voice ushered me back downstairs, back to the group, a voice of my father; and so I did, oblige.
Inquiring as to what the matter was, the lady spoke;
“I’ve seen you on the balcony…smoking.”, she said with a cold look on her face, all bug-eyed.
“Yeah I tend to smoke sometimes…”, I said in a squeamish voice.
“Filthy…every day I see you smoking. You have no manners!”
“Umm…”, as I looked down at my feet wondering as to the amount of nicotine I’d smoked to unleash such a wrath upon myself.
After a few moments of silence, a voice of reason would emerge; my father.
“You notice him smoking everyday?”
“…At least 3–4 times he’s up there smoking!”
“Hmm…well that’s not good. Would you like him to smoke indoors?”
“What kind of father are you? He smokes! It’s not good.”
“I understand…but why does that bother you so much? What’s the problem here? We know he smokes, we’re okay with it. He’s an adult”
“…well do you know what your children are up to?”
“I mean…you seem to know so much about my son’s smoking routine. What’s your son’s diet like?”
“That’s none of your concern, my son is a decent boy.”
“I’m not questioning that…my question is what does your son do? What’s his schedule like? I’m sure he doesn’t smoke, does he?”
The lady finally spoke,
“I came to tell you that your son smokes, for his health. Now you’re questioning me.”
“No ma’am…the point is, if you’re so busy keeping tabs on my son’s smoking schedule. I’d expect for you to know atleast about your son. You see when we’re too busy worrying about what goes on in our neighbour’s home, we often ignore what goes on right in front of our very eyes.”
The lady was not impressed, and quickly said goodbye and left in a fiery storm.
My dad chuckled and warmly informed me, I should probably cut down; I said I would, considering I had to anyways because I had taken up boxing as a hobby.
Holidays passed and it was time for me to return back to university, and it had been some time now since I’d thought about my concerned neighbours.
On my return back home, for one final lap, I wondered how they were doing and if they’d be impressed I’d cut down to just two cancer sticks per day…
Though the opportunity wouldn’t be allowed, as out of sympathy I was told to not provoke the neighbours; having revealed to me that their son was arrested, not long after my departure since the cigarette intervention, for driving under the influence.
I guess…it wasn’t karma and neither was it consequence.
Just a humble reminder,
Hey kid, don’t worry too much about what goes on in the neighbour’s house; because when you do, you tend to not notice what needs repairing in yours.