A woman in a pink jacket is trying to push a baby carriage up the ramp of the underground passage. It’s morning. Rush hour. The wheels are twisting around and the carriage won’t go. The woman is practically in tears. The streetcar has just come up and the passage is jammed. The woman and her carriage immediately become an obstacle in everybody’s way, those who are taking advantage of the break while there’s power and no air raid sirens, trying to get to work.
«I'll help,» I say, not asking.
«It won’t move,» she says, blowing a stray strand of hair from her flushed face.
The wheels of the carriage really don’t fit the rails of the ramp by a millimeter.
«But I came up this way last week,» she says, confused.
We decide to carry it. We harness ourselves like a pair of ants. And get stuck on the third step. Now the three of us are balancing dangerously, the carriage, the woman, and I, on the stairs of the passageway. The crowd keeps rushing around us. Sweat is running down my spine. Tears are running down her cheeks. And he then appears out of nowhere.
«Hold this,» he says, and tosses his heavy army backpack at my feet.
I stand and watch as he takes the carriage with both hands and lightly runs up the stairs with it. A boy in a soldier’s uniform. The woman in the pink windbreaker runs upstairs after him. But he’s already running back down to me for his backpack. We climb up together.
«Would you like some coffee?' the woman suddenly asks. And she pulls a thermos out of a bag on the carriage.
«No thanks, I’m already late for the suburban bus. I’m going home,» he smiles happily and slings the backpack across his shoulder. «I've been given leave.»
He starts to go while we three, the woman, the carriage, and I, are still standing in everybody’s way. We’re still being rushed on all sides by the morning crowd. And suddenly I realize that I don’t know his name.
«What's your name?» I yell. He turns around and yells back, «Roman!»
«He waves his hand good-bye and runs into the crowd.» At this moment, the woman breaks out into a run after him.
«Take the cup, the cup, take the coffee.»
But he has already melted into the crowd.
She returns, all out of breath, and says: «You won’t believe it, but his name is also Roman,» nodding towards her son who has been quietly sleeping in the carriage all this time.
Good luck to you, Roman! Big Roman and Little Romchyk.