Toy Train for Hasan

Dear Diary,

Never did I see Hasan’s eyes gleaming so brightly in excitement before. I had wished to capture those moments with a camera and show them to my parents. However, my mind has in fact been a hidden camera in its own unique way — translating encounters, images and sceneries into unwinding narration of proses.

Anyway, we went to Pak Mamat’s house yesterday evening, after a whole day on the streets. His son, Ginanjar (we call him “Gin”), had invited us and a few other kampung kids to see his new toy. “Show off,” my skepticism of his good intention took the best of me, as usual.

Entering his living room, the new and colourful mini train immediately captured our attention. It was running on its eight-shaped track — two cycles in the same direction after which it took the cutting diversion rail and circled in the opposite direction. Occasionally, the miniature vehicle emitted vapour from its small chimney on top of the engine-driver’s head cart.

I looked at Hasan and found him sitting on the floor, cross-legged, observing every single part of the train set attentively. His animated eyes rolled from the colourful carts to the rotating chained wheels, from the stainless steel track to the warning traffic light next to a model guard house. The toy even had miniature persons included — the engine-driver, the guard, and some passengers.

The gathering crowd (of kids) had begun to make noises, asking Gin if they could reverse the train’s direction, if they could borrow it sometime, and even if the price was affordable to possibly quote their parents with. Hasan instead opened his sketch book and started to draw his new amazement.

Just like me, he had also got his sketch book from Ms. Rayhan and has been drawing numerous objects that amuse him since. Hasan loves to draw mostly unique vehicles. He has had a mini Cooper on one of the pages, and a rickshaw on another. He has drawn a Scoopy motor, and a fighter plane at another time. Most of his drawings were relatively good pencil-sketches for someone as young as he is.

“Why don’t you sketch that Hammer?” I once asked him, and he simply said, “I don’t like it.” So vehicles he draws are those that appeal to his fancy. Then I had also asked him why he had never tried sketching objects other than vehicles. You wanna know what his answer was? “Others don’t have wheels!” It made my parents and I laughed. But, we do respect his preference and don’t judge him for that. He is who he is and is therefore special because of the very reason.

Seeing Hasan immersed in his drawing, I approached him to take a peek on his work. He was sketching the whole setup, and then two selective carts: the head and passenger carts. While doing this, I saw his eagerness observing and incorporating the details — the hook between carts, the window sills, the door handle, and so on. I’d never witnessed him so focused before. Or maybe because I’d never really watched him drawing till then.

After he had finished with his crafty work, we thanked Gin and returned home. At home, Hasan was fiery showing mum and dad his train drawings and telling them how fascinating the toy train was. He even flashed the sketches in front of the 3-year old Husain, just to show everyone how proud he was seeing the toy.

Today, as my dad and I were the only two scouring the streets, we had some time planning a meaningful surprise gift for Hasan’s upcoming birthday (which we were not quite sure of its exact when either).

“What about a toy train, Aba?” I suggest.

“That would be great, Dear,” my dad replies positively, “But…”

“No worries, Aba. We can make the body and wheels out of cardboard pieces, the roofs out of magazine covers, and to tie the loose pieces we can use cuts of banana leaves or spines of coconut leaves,” I proudly put forward my brilliant idea. (Or at least, I think of it in high regard).

“What an excellent idea, Honey!” my dad exclaims in agreement.

And I continue to express my strengthening argument, “It will be completely free. No need to spend a single penny on it.”

“But do we have the tools, Aba?”

“The ruler, the scissors, the pencil…. the glue…?”

My dad puts my mind in ease saying, “Don’t you know? I’ve been collecting some useful tools for a while now.” He reaches into a small compartment inside our cart and took out a pair of old-looking scissors, a jagged wooden 30-cm ruler, and three pencils. “You see,” he says.

Then, he digs into the slot again. Deeper this time. And he has in his hands a glue stick, a scotch tape, and excitedly he blurts, “See, I even have a cutter,” triumphantly showing a a rusty paper knife enclosed in fading blue plastic material.

“I can’t wait, Aba,” I am completely overwhelmed with the magnificently huge idea we’ve both brainstormed together.

“Let’s gather the materials today,” Aba proposes, “We shall separate the better quality cardboard and magazine covers, and also we shall collect banana or coconut leaves we find along the way.”

He then continues, “I’ll begin drawing the shapes tomorrow and you can help cutting them into pieces.”

“That’s really great, Aba,” I clap my hands and smile in victory, imagining what Hasan’s toy train may look like at the end.

“But that means Hasan cannot come with us tomorrow right?” I ask him to ascertain.

“Definitely!” he ensures, “He should stay at home with Ummi and Husain. At least until we’ve done with our secret project.”

I smile deeply and hug my dad’s arm as we continue resting by the road side. I really can’t wait to see Hasan’s reaction to our crafty gift. It certainly won’t be as good or as cool as Gin’s factory-made toy train, but our special gift will definitely have the heart and soul of the toy train Hasan has drawn wholeheartedly in his sketch book. Insya Allah…

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