GilThis is the ninth part of my short story, Friends. Please would you correct my mistakes.
The man in the middle, who was in his sixties, and seemed to be a professional interrogator, asked Omer his personal data and then said, “And now tell us what you know about the Muslims who have acquired weapons recently. What do you know about the personnel in your hospital who have stolen medicine to give them to the Green Berets? Why did you ignore the Serbs who needed help, but was eager to help the Muslims?”
Omer’s answers were negative to all these questions. He explained the interrogator that he was a hard-working man who was never interested in politics. He was a surgeon whose main goal in life was to help people no matter their religion or origins. He never made any difference between the Serbs, the Croats and the Muslims. Nobody had ever complained about him. He had never quarrelled with anyone.
Despite his denials, the men gazed at him with hostility. Their goal was to present the Serbs as the victims and the other two nations as evil people, who plotted the destruction of the Serbian nation. In their plan, the prisoners had only two choices: either to admit their roles in that plot or face torture and death.
The interrogator opened a file, took out a sheet of paper and gave it to Omer. There were about twenty Bosniak and Croat names on it. The man asked him if he knew some of them. He read through them but could only confirm that he knew nobody.
“So you know nothing,” the interrogator said, “that’s not good.”
“I can’t tell lies,” Omar said.
He had hardly finished his sentence, when Milan jumped up, took two steps, and before Omer could anticipate what was going to happen, Milan slapped him three times in the face. Blood immediately started to pour from his nose and mouth.
“You bloody Muslims!” Milan shouted at him. “Everything is your fault. You wanted the war and now you’ve got it.”
Omer wiped the blood off his face with his hand and looked at Milan’s bloodshot eyes. They radiated irrational hatred. It was not the blows that hurt him, but the way their friendship ended. He was on the verge of tears. How could Milan forget all those years they had spent together? How could he turn into such a cruel person and beat him when he knew well that Omer never saw himself as a Muslim and did not even believe in God. He had hundreds of question to ask him, but he knew that if he opened his mouth Milan would become only angrier.
“Take it easy, Milan,” the third man said. “You don’t need to finish Mr Omer today. Let him give some rest. He’ll come back and tell us all these things he couldn’t remember today.”
Milan somehow composed himself and sat down. The older interrogator stared at Omer and said, “Omer, you‘ve luckt today, but believe me, next time you’ll meet people who aren’t so kind as we are.” He then called the guard to take Omer back to the warehouse.
Omer slumped onto the piece of cardboard. He felt humiliated and did not dare to look at people around him. He tasted his blood and smelled his sweat.
FirstNow he saw that his shirt was drenched. Someone put a plastic bottle in front of him and Omer drank a few mouthfuls and washed the blood from his face. The drops of red liquid fell on the dusty floor, where they remained like they were frozen. He was overcome with sadness and felt tears in his eyes. He knew he was not going to survive this ordeal. His upbringing and education had not prepared him for such circumstances. This was beyond humanity, a new world, the (a) kingdom of madness and perversion.
Omer felt exhausted and, despite discomfort, he went to sleep early in the evening. He
wokewas awaken upin the middle of the night by the guard’s shouting the names of the prisoners who had to run outside. Soon, Omer heard screams and howling coming from the white building. His body started to tremble. He felt as if they were beating him also. He had never before heard human beings producing such voicesnoises. They reminded him of some pigs being slaughtered, he once saw on TV. The beating went on for about an hour, which to Omer seemed like hours. Some of the prisoners returned and some did not, and he did not want to think about what could have happened to them, although his mind was whirling with a myriad of thoughts. All these people were innocent just like he was. They were not soldiers who had participated in battles or dangerous criminals but ordinary men who lived ordinary lives and wished nothing more than freedom and peace. They would be tortured and killed by other ordinary men who had decided to implement the most sadistic and cruellest ideas into practice.
TO BE CONTINUED
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