When I came back home from my short Prague trip my colleagues asked me whether I had met somebody interesting there (a guy, that is – they want me to start dating) and I answered without hesitation: “Oh yes, I did meet someone! Actually, I met two interesting guys at once: they’re twins and… by the way… they’re five years old.”
By sheer coincidence I spent my whole train journey home babysitting these two great kids: Oliver and Julian. Their mum had to sit in another part of the train as everywhere else was full and for unknown reason she placed her trust in us – me and my friend – complete strangers and let them sit with us. At first I wasn’t very happy, let me tell you. I didn’t like children. And children didn’t like me, I felt it whenever I happened to meet one.
I was in the final year of my undergrad when I got pregnant. In my year, there were two of us. As in the time we were writing our bachelor thesis, we were joking that we have a privilege of having two brains and that we’re basically cheating. Two months after we turned in our dissertations we had the final exams and only one of us remained a cheater. I was left with my own brain to think.
This was two and a half years ago. Since then I can’t help feeling like a traveller who boarded the wrong train and instead of Paris got off in Budapest looking around and thinking: yeah, this city is equally nice but I really wanted to see Louvre. Maybe next time I’ll catch the right train.
Since then I’ve grown bitter when it comes to children. Or, rather, indifferent. I was avoiding them quite successfully and I kept convincing myself that I don’t even want to have kids.
Until I met these two. At first, I didn’t know what to do, how to talk to them, what to say to them… For the first half an hour I was annoyed because they were these kinds of crazy, hyperactive kids who you simply can’t leave unguarded for a second because they might as well set the train on fire. But I had to admit, they were adorable. Identical twins, two exactly the same beautiful little faces, two perfectly inquisitive, crazy, happy and loud creatures.
And they loved me. And they kissed me and hugged me with those tiny arms and hands. All this after we spent only like an hour together on the train. An hour that felt like 10 minutes. The journey was more than three hours long and in the course of these three hours we did everything: We played, we laughed, we ate sweets, we tickled each other and laughed again, we played hide and seek, we were doing funny faces…. virtually everything one can do in a room of approximately four square metres.
And I loved them. I entirely forgot about myself for a while. The only thing I was thinking about was how to make them laugh, what I’m gonna tell them to engage their attention or what game we’re going to play next. I think I’d give them anything. And it made me a better person somehow, those kids. That feeling.
When the time came that we had to say goodbye I gave them both a ring to remember me. I was wearing many rings that day and by sheer coincidence two of them – originally on my little fingers – fit them perfectly. They almost missed their connection train to Vienna because they didn’t want to leave us. Their mum had to drag them away from us almost by force. It was hard to say goodbye…
The original plan was to go back to Bratislava by coach but we took the train instead. I suppose I was meant to be on that train, I was meant to meet those two little guys. They kindled in me something new. An unknown feeling, hot like a flame. A flame that was supposed to burn within me for a long time now but remained unfired.
I know they were someone else’s kids and that I only got the chance to spend a couple of hours with them. But I know how I felt. I know that this feeling that I felt inside was (almost) real. A love that only mothers are capable of.