GilThis is the third part of my short story, Friends. Please would you correct my mistakes.
Milan and Omer had almost similar ideas about politics. They firmly believed that socialism was the only system that empowered ordinary workers and did not treat them as expendable goods. They believed that ordinary workers were the pioneers of the new society, which would soon take root in every part of the world. They participated in discussions in their local Party organisation and they read a lot. Their favourite author was Erich Fromm, whose books they devoured. His observations and ideas conformed what they felt about modern capitalism. It created an abundance of goods, but also alienated people and harmed their souls. They were becoming prisoners of the system, which was not interested in humanity and the well-being of ordinary people but production of new goods and profit. Milan and Omer were glad that they did not live in such a sick society. They did not indulge in luxury, nor did they feel the need for expensive gadgets or cars. They rather preferred the company of human beings than material objects.
It was around that time that they had their first disagreement. They were watching TV and saw a certain Slobodan Milosevic, whom people dubbed Slobo. He came almost from nowhere and started making speeches in front of large crowds. He was talking about a strong, united Serbia, and at the same time declaring his support for the Serbs in Kosovo. Omer did not have a favourable opinion of him. In his eyes, Slobo was a demagogue and opportunist, who manipulated the masses with empty words behind which there was no substance. He was a typical party functionary, a careerist who used the Party as means to achieve his own goals. Milan, however, had a complete different opinion. For him Slobo was a great leader, a new Tito, who would keep the whole country united and safe. He was a no-nonsense man who would not allow the foreign powers to control the destiny of Yugoslavia. He was determined and he would keep the Party and its structure strong and healthy. Nevertheless, this minor disagreement did not affect their friendship in any way. After all, they belonged to the same large family in which disagreements and debates were proof of democracy.
After five years, the two men returned to their hometown as orthopaedic surgeons. Milan specialised in hand and Omar in knee surgery. They promptly became employed in (In the US we would use "at") the local hospital. They worked on the same ward, their consulting rooms a few meters apart from each other. They married the same year. Milan married Ana, a young dentist, and Omar married Merima, a chemistry teacher. They moved to the flats, which they had got from the hospital. It was a newly built block of flats with large airy rooms and bright halls. Milan lived on the second floor and Omer on the fourth. Within a year, the couples became parents. Ana gave birth to a son and Merima to a daughter. With the newborn babies, the friendship between two families deepened. Two mothers would often spend mornings together feeding their children, taking them outside in their prams for a stroll, and exchanging their experiences. Their husbands, now fathers talked more about the qualities of nappies, dummies, baby food and other baby products than about politics and the future of socialism. However, that socialism was now coming to a dramatic end. The Berlin Wall, which had caused so much trouble, suffering and loss of life, now crumbled like sand. In the neighbouring countries, people had enough of the one-party system and demanded real democracy.. Communism had become a curse nobody wanted to be associated with. Milan and Omer followed the news and felt as if part of them was crumbling also. They were born in a system that gave them everything, from free education, free health care, free sports training to cheap rents, cheap summer vacations, and cheap food and clothes. But now people rejected it completely and were yearning for pure capitalism without being aware of the consequences. The Yugoslav Communists tried for one last time to save the Party, but they could only admit their powerlessness against the tide of time.
To be continued
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