By George Biondic
I’m taking advantage of the pandemic to write a memoir. This is a segment from it.
There wasn’t much time, so Luka (a poor, seven-year-old boy) had to act quickly. He was supposed be go straight home after school, instead, he decided he stop first to the variety store.
The three dinars clenched in his hand, received from the Ambrozics on his birthday, he assumed he could spend on anything. In glass jars, just below the cash register — sweets of various colour, shape and flavour — shouted out at him, “buy me!” Too afraid to stay and listen, he moved on to the back of the store, where shelves abounded with nicknacks.
He desperately wanted to buy the right item. Aha, there it was at eye level: a little, rubber rabbit with perky ears, round eyes and chubby cheeks. “I’m yours.” It wore a blue shirt and red shorts. Price tag underneath showed “3.”
Janja was cooking supper, when Luka came into the kitchen.
“Mama, I have something for you.” Today was her birthday. Never before had he given her anything.
“What is it dear?” She was stirring goulash on the stove.
“It’s for your birthday.”
A warm smile formed on her face, like sunrise on a perfect morning, as she put the spoon down and turned around. He held out a small package wrapped in red paper, courtesy of the shopkeeper when he heard who it was for.
“Did your father give you the money?”
“No.” And he explained. She wiped her hands on the apron, before removing the paper and opening the box — an adorable rabbit, arms folded in a calm repose. This gift, I can tell you, she would go to cherish for the rest of her life.
She gently swept curls from his forehead, looked deeply into his innocent, brown eyes and whispered, “thank you,” with such tenderness that can only exist between a mother and child.
He knew, there and then, he had chosen the right item. No candy could replace this feeling.