The five-member Kovacs* family lived on the ground floor of the apartment building directly opposite to ours and it delivered plenty of material for entertainment.
You need to know that the distance between the buildings was barely of a few meters long, so peeping into families´ everyday life was as easy as it gets. We did not have television those days, but soap operas were always available. You just had to position yourself in the window and choose which one you wanted to watch, almost like changing TV channels. There were people who did that on regular basis. So when they were not on the balcony we knew that they were gone to the country side.
There was plenty to see and to hear. If a family purchased something new for example (which was quite the accomplishment with empty stores) the whole neighborhood was informed. It did not stop at the mere fact of the purchase, but this offered everybody a great opportunity for discussions and comments for a couple of days.
However, the most important source of entertainment was the mentioned five-member family. There was the mother – the very proud, quite corpulent cleaning lady of the neighborhood – , the father – a tall, wild-animal-like man, occupation unknown – , the eldest kid – a feminine copy-of-the-father and the only daughter – followed by two younger boys and finally by a set of very different two twin boys.
It was the mentality that „having kids is just the way life is“ combined with a carpe diem attitude and the urge to shout at each other in order to make themselves clear that made the Kovacs family so interesting. We witnessed everything one can imagine: from the drunken loud singing father sleeping right under their window, to the feeling of responsibility of the older daughter to act as an educational figure for her younger boy siblings (slapping their faces, pulling them into the house by the hair, shouting at them, pushing them around) and to the lady-diva-like carelessness attitude of the mother that allowed her to enjoy her cigarettes in the kitchen – very often with her lady friends – while her small children, put into random baskets on the balcony, were left on their very own.
It was a sunny afternoon that provided suspense for everybody who had a direct view over the ground floor apartment of the Kovacs family.
The two twins were placed again on the balcony in their basket to enjoy the sun. It had become a common view for us: the boys in the basket on the balcony.
The only thing that was changing was the fact that they were growing. And with growing they began to be more flexible and curious, so they started to move around.
One thing led to another and suddenly one of these boys was standing on his feet, in the basket, on the open balcony. The breaths of the people who happened to be watching at this very moment suddenly stopped, their eyes opened wide, their jaws dropped and hearts began beating faster.
Hopes were high that the kid would not fall out.
For those who were able to get out of the frozen moment of awe and think about calling the mother, it was too late: they saw the kid flying from the balcony.
The sound of his head hitting the pavement followed quickly. One second, two seconds… and the kid started crying the whole world together.
During the next minute the mother showed up on the balcony, stuck her cigarette in her mouth, bent over, looked at the crying kid and realized what happened, then picked it up with one hand and placed it back into the basket.
End of story.
I remember years later talking about the neighborhood with our old neighbors, mentioning the life of the Kovacs family.
We all agreed that those kids were everything but spoiled: they were left alone, they had fallen and got up again, they had been beaten, they had eaten from the ground, but still, they were robust and healthy kids.
Except of the small incident of the flying kid that left him with a somehow glassy look in his eyes and a slight disability to think and talk in a normal pace.