Music from the Russian song, “I play the accordion” can be heard echoing throughout the village.
Children rush out from courtyards large and small to see what’s going on. Within a few minutes the streets are full of noise and commotion, the complete opposite of the silence that previously reigned.
There’s a colorful "kiddy" train on the street, waiting for passengers. The whistle blows, signaling “all aboard”. Two young guys are driving the train
-Mom, I want to ride.
-Be patient. Wait for your father. I don’t have any money.
-No. I want to ride now.
-Hamik, give me 200 drams. I’ll pay you back.
The passengers are ready. All the seats are taken.
For a fare of 200 drams, the kids are driven around the village. Not a very big deal one might say.
But the kids were of one mind – they all wanted to ride the train, and jostled for a place on the waiting line.
It was a very big deal for the children and the village residents. The train had come to them!
To sit on the train and ride around the streets that they usually run through barefoot was something new for the children. Even some mothers were enticed to ride on the toy train.
The summer vacation will soon end, and these village kids will go back to school. As per tradition, their teacher will ask them what they did during their vacation. They’ll be told to write a short essay on the topic.
I remember a portion of an essay on the same topic my classmate wrote many years ago.
“I put a sandwich in my pocket and went with my father to the garden. I stole water from old man Gago. He hit me for cursing at him.”
My classmate was a poor student and the teacher went easy on him. But he was able, in his simple language, to describe what he did for three months. He wrote four pages about watering the garden, going to market at dawn with his father, playing in the street, etc. It was all described in detail. The class discussed the essay for a long time.
As kids, we didn’t vacation on the golden beaches in Varna, Bulgaria, or in summer resort camps in Armenia. We basically shared the same daily routine as our classmate, and we wrote about it. But our teacher was fixated on the essay my friend had written. And the essay got a pretty high mark.
Today, the child of my classmate friend, is sitting on the toy train that appeared in our village. The child looks very happy. I can predict what he will write about his summer vacation when he returns to school.
Paying so that their children can ride a toy train is expensive for parents who wrestle with the soil under a blazing sun. Children and their parents from the city, walking through the gardens carrying umbrellas, aren’t to blame.
Those living in the village have chosen to do so. Village kids can sometimes be hard-to- read and unpretentious.
Tomorrow, they will attend college and become judges, reporters, teachers, investigators, economists, and who knows what else.
Today, they are just kids. Laughing with glee as the colorful toy train turns through the village once again.