For the past two weeks, I’ve taken to the habit of waking up at 6:30 in the morning and having coffee while smoking at the corner carinderia. Today, I came without a lighter so I had to ask the couple tending the store for one. Then I realized…

“Nanakaw ko po yung lighter niyo nung huli akong nandito. Naiuwi ko po. Ibabalik ko sa susunod,” I told them.

Of course, I’ve always had the reputation for unmindfully snatching lighters. In my old office, my workmates and I used to say to each other: “Sister, can I borrow the lighter that used to be mine?”

And then there’d be nights when I’d come home and discover I suddenly have 3 lighters in different colors.

But ever since I’ve been back in Manila a few months ago, I’ve become more conscious about lighter ownership. This is perhaps because in the province, where I had a two-year hiatus and very rarely went out, I finally started buying my own lighter and keeping it. I learned the value of a lighter and cherished the one I had. And I knew there were also other smokers who hold their lighters precious.

Despite my newly-acquired sensitivity, however, I’ve had some lapses.

One time, my officemate Atan found his lighter in my make-up kit after searching everywhere for it, subjecting me to interrogations while I vehemently cried out my innocence.

So I know am not totally cured of this mild and lighter-specific kleptomania.

But the big difference now is, I’ll return any unintentionally stolen lighter to its rightful owner. That is, if I figure at all who s/he is.

*Update: Returned lighter on my walk to the office. It was a Cricket and a kind of blue that stands out but doesn’t insist on your attention. It says: “lights more, lasts longer”. Now, why would anyone deprive the owner of that lighter’s promise?

*This subject has a lot of potential stories ranging from amusing anecdotes to serious essays on restorative justice and so much more in between and beyond. 🙂