Luckily for me, grandmother woke up everyday a good half an hour earlier than grandfather, to replenish coal in the stove and prepare breakfast. I waited till grandmother went down stairs and closed the kitchen door behind her. I tiptoed to my grandparent’s bedroom, opened the door carefully and peeped inside to see if grandfather was still asleep. Under the influence of beer 24 x 7, most of the times he was snoring and talking in his sleep.
On my hands and knees, I crawled to the back side of the bed where grandfather’s pant hung on the wooden bed stead. Holding my breath, I took his money purse out, clicked it open noiselessly and checked how much money he still possessed. Most of the times, grandfather’s money did not leave the pub with him and the inside of his purse looked like a big black hole. But if there was some money, I took out a couple of hundreds. I was making sure, even when the temptation was very high, not to empty the purse completely, to avoid suspicion.
Later when we were sitting at the kitchen table for breakfast, I loved to watch grandfather sitting there, thinking very deep and questioning himself. I knew he never could remember correctly how much he spent at the pub the evening before. Neither did he dare to tell grandmother of his loss because grandmother would have told him that, most probably he was too drunk to remember how much he spent.
This money was spent well on a small packet of cigarette or things I saw at the second hand shops or on the art materials I wanted, when I visited mother in the city on the weekends.
Once I came home with an art book with paintings by Bosch. I bought it from the second hand book shop in Antwerp city. Grandfather found the book on the kitchen table where I left it in my haste. He started shouting and asking me where I got that pornography picture book from. Then he told me to get rid of it at once because he did not want to see something like that in his house. I was very much tempted to tell him that the book was bought with his money. I hid my smile and walked away, closing the kitchen door behind me.