The Railroad Station
They got off the Oimachi train at Jiyugaoka Station, and Mother took Totto-chan by the hand to lead her through the ticket gate. She had hardly ever been on a train before and was reluctant to give up the precious ticket she was clutching.
"May I keep it?" Totto-chan asked the ticket collector .
"No, you can’t," he replied, taking it from her.
She pointed to his box filled with tickets. " Are those all yours?"
"No, they belong to the railroad station," he replied, as he snatched away tickets from people going out.
"Oh." Totto-chan gazed longingly into the box and went on, "When I grow up I’m going to sell railroad tickets!"
The ticket collector glanced at her for the first time. "My little boy wants a job in the station, too, so you can work together."
Totto-chan stepped to one side and took a good look at the ticket collector. He was plump and wore glasses and seemed rather kind.
"Hmm." She put her hands on her hips and carefully considered the idea. "I wouldn't mind at all working with your son," she said. "I'll think it over. But I’m rather busy just now as I'm on my way to a new school."
She ran to where Mother waited, shouting, "I’m going to be a ticket seller!"
Mother wasn't surprised, but she said, "I thought you were going to be a spy."
As Totto-chan began walking along holding Mother's hand, she remembered that until the day before she had been quite sure she wanted to be a spy. But what fun it would be to be in charge of a box full of tickets!
"That's it!" A splendid idea occurred to her. She looked up at Mother and informed her of it at the top of her voice, "Couldn't I be a ticket seller who's really a spy?"
Mother didn't reply. Under her felt hat with its little flowers, her lovely face was serious. The fact was Mother was very worried. What if they wouldn't have Totto-chan at the new school? She looked at Totto-chan skipping along the road chattering to herself. Totto-chan didn't know Mother was worried, so when their eyes met, she said gaily, "I’ve changed my mind. I think I’ll join one of those little bands of street musicians who go about advertising new stores!"
There was a touch of despair in Mother's voice as she said, "Come on, we'll be late. We mustn't keep the headmaster waiting. No more chatter. Look where you're going and walk properly."
Ahead of them, in the distance, the gate of a small school was gradually coming into view.
The first Sports Day for Totto-chan and her classmates was a fine day just as the headmaster had hoped. The decorations of paper chains and gold stars made by the children the day before and the phonograph records of rousing marches made it seem like a festlval.
Totto-chan wore navy blue shorts and a white blouse, although she would have preferred to wear athletlc bloomers. She longed to wear them. One day after school the headmaster had been giving a class in eurythmics to some kindergarten teachers, and Totto-chan was very taken with the bloomers some of the women were wearing. What she liked about them was that when the women stamped their feet on the ground, their lower thighs showing beneath the bloomers rippled in such a lovely grown-up way. She ran home and got out her shorts and put them on and stamped on the floor. But her thin, childish thighs didn't ripple at all, After trying several times, she came to the conclusion it was because of what those ladies had been wearing. She asked what they were and Mother explained they were athletic bloomers. She told Mother she definitely wanted to wear bloomers on Sports Day, but they couldn't find any in a small size. That was why Totto-chan had to make do with shorts, which didn't produce any ripples, alas.
From Totto-chan, The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. Translated by Dorothy Britton
fredag 5 december 2008
The Railroad Station