I have a problem with what happened at the village. It seems that most of the people escaped and were not harmed. It was the people in the nearby village who were attacked. If this is so, why did the priest's father feel that returning would be so bad? Also, if this priest was a Catholic (the reference to the Pope led me to believe that the priest was Catholic) how did he have a wife?Please, would you take a look at the fourth part of my short story, "Two Women" and correct my mistakes.
“Our village was gripped by panic. Women started wailing while men stood transfixed, until someone shouted, “What are we waiting for? We must save (We must at least save) at least our children!” As if on signal, people ran into their homes and came out with just a few possessions, some food and clothes bundled up in sheets and blankets. There was no time to take anything more. Soon, a long column of people was striding along the dusty road. A few of them stopped for a second to give a last glance at the village, as if feeling that they would never come back. Everyone was crying, men, women, children and babies. But the wish to live was stronger than the pain, and we walked for hours before taking a break. My whole body hurt, especially my legs, which were swollen and felt heavy like lead. I believed I was never going to make it, but those distended bodies in the river and the tragedy which had happened in the nearby village spurred me to carry on.
NotBefore dawn we reached a small town where we could take shelter. And when the war finally ended, my family never returned to the village. Instead, our father built for us a new house (built a new house for us) in another part of the country, telling us that our village was spoilt for ever. We could not come back and be reminded all the time of had happened to us and our neighbours.”
The priest made a short pause, as if the painful memories flooding back were hampering his ability to talk. He drunk his beer, wiped his mouth with his thumb and index finger and then said, “What we’ve learnt ("What we've learnt" may be colloquial, and that is fine since this is the speech of a person, but it can't work as a question. The more proper way is, "What have we learned") after all these tragedies? I’ll tell you what, we’ve learnt absolutely nothing. It’s the same hatred, same evil and same madness. Only a new generation is born, ready to kill and slaughter their neighbours, as if killing is a panacea for all their personal failures. I have a son who is a professor of mathematics. He had been working at the university for years and had a distinguished career until someone had decided that he must be fired, even before the war began. And the reason was...? His name? The timbre of his voice? His religion? Or because he did not have a picture of the Pope in his office? So he was not welcome in his own homeland, in which he was born and educated, but he was welcome in Canada, which received him eagerly, happy that they got an esteemed teacher without investing a single dollar in his education.”
I stayed with the priest about an hour. We exchanged our pleasant and also our bad experiences, remembering the time not long ago when people mixed together freely, married, partied and celebrated all kinds of national and religious holidays without ever asking each other about their origins or religion. Such prosperous time (Either - "a prosperous time", or "prosperous times") seemed so remote now for our generations, but hopefully there would be a chance for the coming ones. Before we parted he gazed into my eyes.
“You believe in God.” he said holding my hand.
“Sure. How do you know that?”
“I can’t explain in words. It radiates from you.”
As I walked back to my soldiers, I was thinking about his words. I indeed believed in the Almighty and prayed on every occasion, but my faith had started to waver. When you see young children killed by a sniper or whose limbs had been amputated, you cannot remain unaffected. You can be the most seasoned fighter, the bravest man on earth, but still when you see the eyes of these innocent children, you feel a great shame. You were unable to help them, you have seen them suffering, and still you declare your faith in God. What kind of God? The creator of the Universe, the real thing, or the product of the imagination? If the latter option is true, that means that we have deluded ourselves with the biggest lie ever, that we are almost all victims of the most sophisticated manipulation. Nevertheless, if I renounce my faith, where am I going to find a source of strength, a consolation, a shield against all the madness around me?
To be continued