GilThis is the sixth part of my short story, Friends. Please would you correct my mistakes.
The friendship between the two men began to cool, and not only between them, but also among friends all over the country. Suddenly, people saw the differences between each other, and these differences became more important than the similarities and years of friendship. This was one of the goals of the nationalist parties, which rejoiced over the end of friendship among the nations. The madness of nationalism permeated all parts of society. It was impossible to avoid it even in
aprivate life. Many mixed marriages, which had been successful for years and decades, were now falling apart. Wives and husbands, who before whispered endearments to one another, were now accusing one another of supporting the opposite side. Their children, confused and scared, watched them with disbelief, wondering if their parents had become victims of some strange illness, which altered their minds. The tension was growing until one morning the news came of the first skirmishes between the Serbian paramilitary units on one side and the Croats and Bosniaks on the other. People had lost their lives and villages had been destroyed and plundered. But naive people still believed that peace was possible and that somehow the three parties would reach an agreement and stop the bloodshed before it was too late. Some leading intellectuals, who still had not fallen into the trap of nationalism, appeared in the media pleading with the political leaders to spread peace instead of hatred, but nobody listened to them. The three leaders were not interested in peace and neither were their followers, who had decided that the ("the" is optional here) killing was the only way to solve the disputes. (The three leaders who had decided that killing was the only way to solve the disputes were not interested in peace and neither were their followers) Omer and his wife watched TV every day and their hearts sank. They saw their homeland being destroyed and they felt that when peace returned, Bosnia would never be the same again.
One morning when Omer went outside to go to his job, he noticed soldiers on every corner. They wore combat uniforms with the Serbian Republic flags on their shoulders. Some had black bands and bandanas around their heads. They carried all kinds of weapons from AK-47s, handguns to RPGs. They looked suspiciously at Omer but did not stop him. He quickened his steps and saw machine gun nests at the crossroads and close to important buildings. Two solders stood at the entrance of the hospital, and he walked by them without being stopped. When he came to the reception desk, the man standing behind it, called his name and told him that he was not allowed to enter the hospital. He brought out a sheet of paper and gave it to Omer. He looked at the short text and could hardly believe what he read. He was sacked with immediate effect, without a right to lodge an appeal against the decision. He was deemed disloyal to the new state. The names and signatures under the text belonged to the people Omer never heard about before. They must have been part of the new management, which the new government had installed with the goal to clean the hospital of all Bosniaks and Croats. Omer looked at the man hoping to hear some kind of explanation, but he only lowered his eyes and said, “I’m sorry Omer.”
As he walked the street back home, he saw Milan walking towards him. He was upset and wanted to change direction to avoid him, but then decided to confront him to see his reaction. They greeted each other and then Omer told him about his dismissal. Milan looked at his eyes saying, “I know how you’re feeling. I wish I could help you, but I’m powerless. Even if I tried to help you, they would not listen to me. However, you should know who had started the troubles. It’s your president, Izetbegovic and his idea of the independent Bosnia which caused the Serbs to rebel. And now the Muslims are paying the price.”
Omer felt such anger that he wanted to punch his friend. It never happened to him before, not even when they were children, but today Milan behaved like all other nationalists he could watch on TV. “But it’s not Izetbegovic who has sent soldiers on the streets and sacked people. It’s your Karadzic and his stooges who are preparing the war,” he said and left without waiting for Milan’s reply.
He was relieved when he came into his flat and locked the door behind him, although he knew that the soldiers could break into his home whenever they wanted and take with them whatever they wanted. They could rape his wife in front of him, kill his child and torture him, and they would never face justice. He and his family were Bosniaks, whom the Serbian leaders saw as vermin, which must disappear from the new Serbian Republic. Anything and anybody who facilitated that goal could only receive praises by the political leadership.
TO BE CONTINUED
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