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  1. #1
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Two Women, part six

    Please, would you take a look at the sixth part of my short story, Two Women, and correct my mistakes.

    In the morning, our field kitchen arrived and also a Land Rover with a driver, who was put at my disposal. I could breathe a sigh of relief. At least somebody in the headquarters was doing his job properly and thinking about us in the war zone. They had also brought post for the soldiers, who were in a buoyant mood. Letters from their families meant more to them than any medals and decorations. However, sometimes the news from home was bad. Someone close would die of illness, a parent or child, or a fatal accident would take a life. On some occasions there would be a message from a girlfriend in which she wrote that she had found another man. She had already waited for years for the war to end and could not waste her time. After all, one lives only once. On such occasions I had to leave behind my military rank and metamorphose into a psychologist, trying to help those in distress. But how to console someone who not only had to suffer a personal loss, but also had to fight in the worst bloodshed? How to tell someone that there are plenty of good fish in the sea, when he was interested in only one, who had left him when he needed her the most? In such cases I had to be cautious, knowing that these suffering people could not only harm themselves but also their comrades.

    This sunny morning, however, there was no bad news and the cheerful mood prevailed. The soldiers laughed and told jokes, reminding me of students on an excursion in the countryside. Gordana asked me if I had slept well, and I answered that I slept like a king. The bed was more comfortable than the one I had at home, and with all those trees and flowers you could easily forget that you were a soldier in the war. She made us coffee and told me that it was her husband’s idea to have so much plants and flowers around the house. He was tired of the sterile German streets and bland, grey buildings on which he would spend endless hours toiling away. When he returned home, which was usually on two or three occasions per a year, he would spend the most of his time in the garden and the orchard where he would potter around and prune roses, bushes and trees.

    “I hope you’re not upset by all these icons in my house,” she said in an anxious voice.
    Maybe I should take them off. Maybe they offend you in some way?”
    Indeed, there were the Orthodox icons hanging on the walls in almost every room, mostly of them portraits of Saint Sava, with his bearded, lean face, aquiline nose and the golden halo around his head.
    “It’s your faith,” I answered. “You can’t run away from your faith only because I’m here. But look what I have.”
    I reached inside my jacket and drew out a colour picture of the Virgin Mary. It was around the size of a hand and creased at edges. I had it with me from the very first day of this war, and I would take it out almost every evening to pray in front of it. Gordana took the picture and held it before her eyes.
    “So, you believe in God,” she said and her countenance brightened. He kissed me on the forehead, hugging my arms. You’re my brother. I’m so glad you’ve come to my home. My daughter and I will be safe.”

    We sat in the kitchen, talking about this meaningless bloodshed, on which we had no influence whatsoever. We all were hostages in the hands of the nationalist politicians, who had suddenly become staunch believers, although only yesterday they were hard-line communists who condemned religion and threw priests into prison where they should learn how to renounce God and love Marx instead. These politicians now openly boasted about their faith, but they did not have any compunction about killing and destruction. In their sick brains, the bloodshed was an act of creation, a prerequisite for a new society in which people are valued not according to their intellectual, mental or physical abilities, but their religion and ethnicity. Gordana and I agreed that we did not stand on the opposite sides, as our leaders would probably like to present it for their followers; actually, we were on the same side, fighting the same enemy. We wanted to remain sane and safe amid the madmen with powerful weapon. I had a lump in my throat, thinking that in this very moment there were thousands of people like us having the similar thoughts and feeling completely powerless.
    To be continued.

  2. #2
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Two Women, part six

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Please, would you take a look at the sixth part of my short story, Two Women, and correct my mistakes.

    In the morning, our field kitchen arrived and also a Land Rover with a driver, who was put at my disposal. I could breathe a sigh of relief. At least somebody in the headquarters was doing his job properly and thinking about us in the war zone. They had also brought posts (or mail) for the soldiers, who were in a buoyant mood. Letters from their families meant more to them than any medals and or decorations. However, sometimes the news from home was bad. Someone close would die of illness, a parent or child, or a fatal accident would take a life. On some occasions there would be a message from a girlfriend in which she wrote that she had found another man. She had already waited for years for the war to end and could not waste her time. After all, one lives only once (or, "One only lives once"). On such occasions I had to leave behind my military rank and metamorphose metamorphosize into a psychologist, trying to help those in distress. But how to console someone who not only had to suffer a personal loss, but also had to fight in the worst bloodshed? (This sentence is not complete. The worst bloodshed of what? You could finish it this way - "the worst bloodshed in years") How to tell someone that there are plenty of good fish in the sea, when he was interested in only one, who had left him when he needed her the most? In such cases I had to be cautious, knowing that these suffering people could not only harm themselves but also their comrades.

    This sunny morning, however, there was no bad news and the a cheerful mood prevailed. The soldiers laughed and told jokes, reminding me of students on an excursion in the countryside. Gordana asked me if I had slept well, and I answered that I slept like a king. The bed was more comfortable than the one I had at home, and with all those trees and flowers you could easily forget that you were a soldier in the war. She made us coffee and told me that it was her husband’s idea to have so much plants and flowers around the house. He was tired of the sterile German streets and bland, grey buildings on which he would spend endless hours toiling away. When he returned home, which was usually on two or three occasions per a year, he would spend the most of his time in the garden and the orchard where he would potter putter around and prune roses, bushes and trees.

    Articles are difficult to work with. They can quickly change the meaning of a sentence. Look at this part of one of your sentences - "...forget that you were a soldier in the war". This refers to a particular war. If you change the article to "a", it means that you are a soldier in any war. From my perspective, "a war" is a more powerful statement since it then becomes a statement on all wars. Also, you can't use "the" as you did in the first sentence of this paragraph - "...there was no bad news and the cheerful mood pervailed" because you didn't describe such a mood (Remember that "the" points to a particular thing, "the blue car"[a particular car] and "a" points to any thing, "a blue car" [any car which is blue]). You could make the sentence work with "the" this way - "This sunny morning, however, there was a cheerful mood among the soldiers and, as there was no bad news, the cheeful mood pervailed".

    “I hope you’re not upset by all these icons in my house,” she said in an anxious voice.
    Maybe I should take them off. Maybe they offend you in some way?”
    Indeed, there were the Orthodox icons hanging on the walls in almost every room, mostly of them portraits of Saint Sava, with his bearded, lean face, aquiline nose and the a golden halo around his head.

    Normally, I would advise a writer to not use "the" here. You could make this statement stronger this way - "Indeed, there were the Orthodox icons, so hated by those in power, hanging on the walls...". The reference to the halo could use "the" if there was more informatin about this matter - something like, "...aquiline nose and the ever present golden halo...". Lacking added information, "a" should be used)


    “It’s your faith,” I answered. “You can’t run away from your faith only (just) because I’m here. But look at what I have.”
    I reached inside my jacket and drew out a colour picture of the Virgin Mary. It was around the size of a hand and creased at the edges. I had it with me from the very first day of this war, and I would take it out almost every evening to pray in front of it. Gordana took the picture and held it before her eyes.
    “So, you believe in God,” she said and her countenance brightened. He She kissed me on the forehead, hugging my arms. You’re my brother. I’m so glad you’ve come to my home. My daughter and I will be safe.”

    We sat in the kitchen, talking about this meaningless bloodshed, on which we had no influence whatsoever. We all were hostages in the hands of the nationalist politicians, who had suddenly become staunch believers, although only yesterday they were hard-line Communists who condemned religion and threw priests into prison where they should learn how to renounce God and love Marx instead. These politicians now openly boasted about their faith, but they did not have any compunction about killing and destruction. In their sick brains, the bloodshed was an act of creation, a prerequisite for a new society in which people are valued not according to their intellectual, mental or physical abilities, but for their religion and ethnicity. Gordana and I agreed that we did not stand on the opposite sides, as our leaders would probably like to present it for their followers; actually, we were on the same side, fighting the same enemy. We wanted to remain sane and safe amid the madmen with powerful weapons. I had a lump in my throat, thinking that, in at this very moment, there were thousands of people like us having the similar thoughts and feeling completely powerless. ("the similar thoughts" doesn't work here, but, "the same thoughts" does - go figure)
    To be continued.
    The story is coming along nicely. The intricacies of using articles are somewhat of a hurdle, even for native-speakers.

  3. #3
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Two Women, part six

    Dear Gil,

    Thank you again for taking your time to help me. I am so grateful for all the help and support which I have received from you. Regarding the articles, you are absolutely right. They are, indeed, one of the biggest hurdles in my writing proper English. The reason is probably because my mother tongue belongs to the Slavic languages, which do not have articles. The Slavic languages have cases instead, like nominative, genitive, dative...By changing or adding two last letters in the noun, one can change the meaning of the noun. I have read many times the rules of the English grammar regarding the articles, and even posses a book about the use of the articles, but, still, I make mistakes. I must be patient, do more exercises, read more and write more and hope that I the use of the articles would become just a routine.

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