Fast Rail

On the second floor of the S-Bahn, a high speed train, Andrea and I are silently enjoying the view. After a long day in Cologne learning how to handle new cultural shock from the program offered by US Immigration Services, the nearly absence of any sound was comforting. This smooth, quiet travel with a high-speed rail system simply whisks you around the country. The experience is calming and relaxing. Worn out by daily routine, the few passengers were asleep, surrendered to the train’s rhythm.

My thoughts were somewhere in the States, still trying to process the information received earlier.  There was no anxiety at this point; I think my whole being was pretty numb.  No questions came from Andrea, thankfully, for how do you explain something to the ten-year-old that you don’t comprehend yourself? Looking out the window, the world was flying by pretty quickly. Our journey was coming to an end. We slowly made our way down to the first level and found a spot near the door.

The train came to a soft stop on Mϋlheim’s Hauptbahnhof. The double glass door opened. Elbowing through the incoming crowd I briefly let go of Andrea’s hand as to face her and help her off the train. As I turned, the door closed in front of me and my sweet little girl was still behind it. The train was taking off with her swallowed in its huge metal belly.

My heart skipped for a second, my mind racing to find a solution. “Get off on the next station” I was mouthing the words while frantically swinging my arms in an effort to make her understand what I needed her to do. And then she was gone…
Andrea was a smart girl with common sense who rarely got into any trouble. Lately though she was testing my patience by forgetting to carry the house key with her. I might be out running errands when she gets home from school and what will she do then?
Since the next train was scheduled within ten minutes, as they always do – a perfect example of German organization and efficiency, I was confident that she will get off and wait for me in the nearby city. Pulling into this train station I was already looking for her long blonde locks, my face glued to the window. “Ok, I don’t see her yet but she must be there somewhere” I thought “you cannot easily spot a four-foot-tall in this sea of people.” As some travelers were already seated comfortably, ready for their new destination and others left the station in all directions, I realized that my child was not there. Now panicking, I ran to the Information booth and asked if they have seen my little girl. Thank heavens, they did! My smart girl walked up to the booth and told them what had happened. They put her on the next train back to our town.  All I had to do is wait another 10 minutes for the next train.
The panic has left me and with joyful heart I almost skipped the five minute way from the train station to our house. I remembered that she didn’t have her key and I pictured her sitting at the door, waiting for me. “Maybe this will be the lesson she needs in order to remember the darn key” I told myself.  But when I arrived, she was not there! “That doesn’t make any sense. She knows it was just matter of 15 minutes before I’ll be home, where would she go?”
I called her friends and mine, but no one has seen her. The sheer panic overcame me. What if she wasn’t able to get of that train either? What if they put her on the wrong train? What if, what if…?

My phone rang. “Hello, this is a railway attendant. Are you missing a child?”
My limbs felt like rubber. “Yes, where is she?” I shouted.
“We were notified that she was on the train and we were supposed to make sure someone is going to get her.”

Well, the German organization failed me this time, because they didn’t tell me she’ll be kept at the station. Running back I already forgave them eager to embrace my girl again. She was sitting comfortably between the two attendants in the Information booth, looking content. At my approaching, they started laughing. This confused me immensely. “What is so funny?” I asked.
“Is this your daughter?”

“Yes, that’s her” I answered still puzzled.

“Well,” they started “we asked her to describe you for security reasons and she told us that you’re old, wrinkled and with pimples on your red face” they couldn’t stop laughing “are you sure this is your mom honey?” I laughed too, relieved I found her and astonished that she described this beauty like a beast.
Any other time, my nearly thirty-year ego would’ve been hurt, but not this time. I finally got my girl safe and sound and it doesn’t matter how she perceives me.  What matters is that there is only one pretty child in the world and every mother has it. Just never ever loosen your grip!

 

*photo borrowed from the Internet

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Jas

publisher and creative director at All that's Jas
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of the Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    Ann
    August 29, 2016 at 8:00 am

    At least you can still laugh about it and that’s always good. A month is a lot of tears…but readon yuor stories, you’ve been one hell of a woman. Funny how life turns out isn’t it. Look at you now, yummy Grandma! I bet your daughter would agree with me on that. 😉
    Imagine if you had stayed in Germany, I would be on my way right now to drop by! LOL.
    xoxox

    1. Reply
      Jas
      August 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      LOL, you’re something else, Ann! One of these days we will live close enough to make that trip, just wait. Then I’ll be dropping by to eat your long beans, haha! :

  2. Reply
    Ann
    August 25, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Skipped for “a few seconds”? You sounded so calm in the initial part but I can imagine your panic. Hehehee…sorry I had to laugh at old, wrinkly, pimply and red faced…oh dear!! Well, there’s one pretty child for every mother and there’s one pretty mother (old wrinkly and all) for every child. ;p

    I’m curious what your thoughts were on this “thoughts were somewhere in the States, still trying to process the information received earlier. how do you explain something to the ten-year-old that you don’t comprehend yourself? Our journey was coming to an end” What were you feeling (apart from numb)?

    1. Reply
      Jas
      August 25, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      Calm? It was sheer horror! We still laugh about her description of me. I thought kids always see their moms as beautiful angels, expect mine, haha.
      This move to the US was before Facebook and Google. So, I had little knowledge of what to expect. I had nightmares for months. My choices were either reunite with my family in this new country on a new continent with a new language or go back to post-war home with slim to no chance to have a job. So, the decision was easy, although the transition wasn’t. It’s not like I could come and check it out before making that decision. The cultural shock was immense. I cried daily for a month. But, we succeeded in making a great life for ourselves here. The hope of safe and good life was a great motivator. Do I miss home and Europe? You bet your behind I do – every minute of my life! Would I like to move back? Not really. We are happy here and happy to be able to visit home. 🙂

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