Ten minutes’ walk away from our neighborhood there was a fun resort place called vikkend complex. The name comes obviously from the English “weekend” and had been transcribed to this funny word as most people did not speak or understand English. I realized the meaning of this word many years later after we started learning English in school.

This complex was one of the most fun places in our communist universe. It was situated by the Mures river, a quite large river that flows through our entire town. The river populated the lake of the vikkend complex.

This lake spread all over the complex and was the source of endless fun opportunities. Many cabins that were built around it belonged to the town´s factories or public administration offices and they could be used by authorized people. For example, as my father worked in a factory called Metalotehnica, a factory that produced electric goods such as sewing machines, we could register for days or even whole weekends to use the cabin.

Most of those houses were made of bricks and were enormous, containing several floors, so the word cabin was by far too modest to describe the buildings. Still, everybody called them cabins. They usually had big kitchens, bathrooms, several rooms, and usually a very spacious ballroom for celebrating events: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries. Some of them even had swimming pools outside for kids. I remember the pool of Metalotehnica painted in light blue, with a big dolphin skid in the middle where I spent hours of my childhood life jumping around in the water. It was a pool paradise!

Few cabins were private, and they were much smaller, wooden houses – much worthier of the word cabin. I had never seen the inside of such a cabin as we did not have any rich acquaintance who would invite us. That was quite the exclusive club.

There were also a few deserted cabins or also some that were under permanent construction. Those were the most fun for us: we would play for hours within their walls living the wildest adventures ever.

What I absolutely loved about vikkend were the old willow trees that grew by the lake. The branches were so long that they reached into the water. We had played lots of hide-and-seek games beneath them and we used those branches often as swings to catapult ourselves into the water.

The vikkend complex was very big and spending a whole day there was never boring due to all the activities that could be undertaken: swimming, playing sports, mini-golf, eating, playing cards, taking boat trips into the wide waters of Mures, and many more.

The vikkend complex was very big and spending a whole day there was never boring due to all the activities that could be undertaken: swimming, playing sports, mini-golf, eating, playing cards, taking boat trips into the wide waters of Mures, and many more.

The heart of vikkend was the public building that was a kiosk/administration/boat rental office, and it was always busy.

On a very warm Sunday afternoon in summer the whole neighborhood had the same idea: to go to the vikkend complex to have fun and to relax. This was not an activity that was done on a regular basis as the entry fees were not always affordable for everybody, especially not for families with several children. However, on this particular summer afternoon, even the Kovács* family indulged in some pampering. They were known in the whole neighborhood as the family with no principles who had five dirty kids, four of them boys, who were always left on their own and were terrorizing the neighborhood.

While my friends and I were playing around and our parents were laying on huge blankets in the sun, the Kovácses decided to give a boat trip a go. The father rented the biggest boat available, big enough for the whole family to fit in. The kids were jumping around in excitement. Soon enough all members of the family were sitting in the boat, but they did not seem to be decisive about getting started. The twins, who were about five at that time, began fighting about something and the boat was throwing huge waves around itself. The big sister jumped up to come between them and the struggle got bigger. It only stopped when they heard the cries of some people running towards the boat. It suddenly became clear to us that the Kovácses invited their friends for the boat trip. Additionally to the five members of their family, two adults and four more children showed up, and they all boarded.

The boat sank a few inches into the water, which did not look very promising. Nevertheless, the two men of the party took over the paddles. The boat was very stubborn and was doing its best to resist any movement forward. Some of the children started paddling with their own hands, so they somehow managed to get the boat moving and take the direction towards the middle of the lake.

This was all so very exciting, not only for the passengers of the boat but also for the people on dry land watching the boat show.

The boat arrived in the middle of the lake with great effort and was still bravely moving forward. Seconds later the twins retook their fight: they began screaming at each other, pushing one another, pulling each other´s hair. The other passengers suddenly stood up from their seats to intervene and that was the decisive moment: the right side of the boat sank a few more inches and water began pouring into the boat. There was no returning from there: the boat filled with water and was slowly sinking.

Panic broke over the passengers. Everybody was screaming and blaming somebody while the boat was going down each second a few more inches.

People watching the show organized two boats and started paddling towards the sinking families. They were able to save all the kids, who could not swim and were scared to death.

The two women swam to the shore while using only one hand: the other hand was holding their purses above water to save their contents.

The men had to let go of their paddles and watch the boat disappear from the surface of the water. They too were placed into the boats that came to their rescue.

The Kovács family was accused of destroying public communist property and was banished from vikkend for months until they were able to pay back the damages caused.

*family name changed