GilThis is the first part of my short story, Friends. Please, would you proofread it.
Milan and Omer had been best friends since their ("their" is optional here) childhood. They were born in the same year, and they grew up
in(In the US we would use "on") the same street. That was in the 70ís when Yugoslavia was a prosperous country in which people enjoyed much more freedom compared to their socialist neighbours whose dictators kept their workers behind the Iron Curtain and treated them as traitors if they tried to move to the West. Unlike them, the Yugoslav dictator, Tito, a locksmith by trade, opened the borders and gave his citizens the opportunity to travel whenever they wanted and import almost whateveranything they wanted, under the condition that they did not plot against the government. Those who dared openly to criticize the communists had only two alternatives in their lives: to move abroad and spend the rest of their lives in exile, before the police arrested them, or to await a court trial, which would inevitably sentence them to long prison sentences, which would certainly destroy them physically and mentally.
Milanís and Omerís parents had no interest in criticising the government or moving abroad. They were well-educated, had well-paid jobs and lived ordinary lives in which they lacked nothing. Their children lived in a country where there were no street gangs, no dangerous drugs and no paedophiles lurking behind the bushes and around corners. Thus, Milan and Omer could play in the street from early morning until late in the evening without fear or worries. In the spring and summer, they would run after a ball, play hide and seek, tag, conkers, marbles and other children's games, or saunter from one orchard to another picking up (If you pick up fruit, the fruit has fallen from a tree. If you pick fruit, the fruit is still on the tree) fruit, which was in abundance. Sometimes their parents drove them to the river where they learnt how to swim even before they started school. In the winter they would take out their sledges, go to the top of a hill and slide down the slope, or they would build snow forts and
hadhave snowball fights with other children. When they began school, Milan and Omer were almost inseparable. Every morning they would strap on their school bags and walk about a quarter of an hour to their school and then a few hours later back home. Their two families were like one. They celebrated birthdays and national holidays together; they invited each other to dinners and drinks. Every summer they would spend their holidays on the Adriatic Sea where Milan and Omer had the time of their lives. They made castles of sand on beautiful beaches, which stretched for kilometres, and they swam in the crystal clear sea. In the evening, they joined their parents and went to patisseries and restaurants where food was excellent and cheap.
Both Milanís and Omerís parents were members of the Communist Party. They firmly believed in the idea of socialism and workersí self-management. Whenever they travelled, they proudly showed their children what the country had managed to achieve after the end of the Second World War. Sometimes they met tourists from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland or the USSR. For the majority of them Yugoslavia was the only country where they could feel winds from the West. They could buy clothes and gadgets, which were impossible to buy in their countries, watch American and British films and soap operas, and buy rock and pop music by popular Western bands. Being Slavic people, they did not need interpreters to understand each other. They were also full of admiration for the relative freedom of a Yugoslav who could so easily get a passport and travel all over the world. For someone who was born behind the Iron Curtain, this was something incredible. Whenever they met someone from Yugoslavia they would ask to see their passports. They would hold it in their hands as something sacred, leaf through it and stare in awe when they saw how many countries that person had already visited. The Yugoslavs would usually smile and say, ďYou know we have Tito, he is the greatest leader ever.Ē Indeed, Tito knew what he was doing. He had appropriated one of the most beautiful islands in the Adriatic Sea for himself, where he built a beautiful palace and to where he welcomed celebrities from the whole world. At the same time, he built the most terrible gulag for the political prisoners where the poor people spent decades breaking stones and then carrying them from one part of the barren island to another.
TO BE CONTINUED
Student or Learner