Student or Learner
This is the tenth part of my short story, Friends. Please would you proofread my mistakes.
After five days, Omer felt like a creature without a will. He slept just two, three hours during the nights, and when awake, he waited for his name to be called for the interrogation. He wished someone would shot him on the spot and put him out of his misery. He had almost lost control over his mind and body, which shook involuntarily whenever a guard came inside. He was not alone with these reactions. There were people who urinated and emptied their bowels of fear. The terrible stench of their excrements filled the already stale air of the warehouse. Some of the guards were excited by this fear. They would stride inside, pick up their victims at random and start beating them with baseball bats and thick cables. Many of them were still teenagers, and Omer asked himself how they could demonstrate such savagery when they had grown up in a country where brotherhood and unity were one of the pillars of society. Who could have instilled such hatred into their minds? Were their parents responsible for their brainwashing even before their leaders came to power? Omer was sure that the world would never find a correct answer.
They gave them food only once a day, a bean soup with a chunk of stale bread. Omer felt hungry all the time and thought about the tasty meals his wife cooked for him. He remembered how once he told her off for oversalting a green lentil soups. His angry words brought her almost to tears, and he had a guilty conscience after that. How he wished to taste that oversalted soup today. How he wished to kiss those hands who cooked it.
One night a guard entered the warehouse, called Omer’s name and told him to take all his belongings with him. He was immediately wracked with strong stomach pain. He went up, his stiff legs shaking. As he shuffled towards the entrance, he wanted to say to the guard, “Please kill me right here. Don’t make me suffer anymore.” Nevertheless, he followed him silently to the white house. When the guard opened the door of the room where Omer had talked to the interrogators for the first time, he expected a group of angry men armed with bats, sticks and truncheon to assault him viciously as soon as he stepped inside. But inside there was only Milan sitting at the table. The guard left immediately and Milan told him to sit down. A thought occurred to him that Milan wished to give him a lecture about the reasons for the war and the innocent Serbs who had to fight for their survival, before sending him to death. Milan was calm and composed and told him that his name was on a death list, which Omer had already had a premonition of.
He told Omer that as he did not see him as a friend any longer, he could have let him be killed, but he did not want to hurt his wife or his parents. He would help him this last time and drive him to his father’s house. There, he would unite with his wife and daughter. Unfortunately, he cannot stay in the Serbian Republic any longer. He must leave at the first opportunity. If they arrested him again, nobody would be able to help him, not even God. He must forget this wretched country and move abroad to some peaceful city where he could live an ordinary life, practice his profession and help people. Bosniaks and Croats would never be welcome here again.
Omer was speechless. He did not know what to say. Was this another plot to draw him into a trap, or was Milan genuine? Could it be that there was still a slice of humanity inside him, which nationalism had not destroyed?
They got into an olive green 4X4 car and drove through the main gate. The warm summer night was calm, the sky dotted with twinkling stars. The road in front of them was empty and Milan accelerated the machine. They sat in silence. Omer looked at the road and glanced at Milan and his gun, which lay beside him. His metamorphosis from a communist into a hard-line nationalist in such a short time had been surreal. From a man who had dreamed about a new, more just society for the whole world, he had turned into a small-minded individual. Just a few months ago, he was full of love and kindness for everyone, and now his love was reserved only for his own people. The other two nations did not deserve to exist at all. Omer wished he could sit with him and discuss all these issues and see him blush, trying to defend his nationalistic stance. He wished he could remind him of all the books they had read together and all the discussions they had before the madness of nationalism had spread in the country. At that time Milan was a visionary, a man who liked to talk about the coming revolutions in the USA and other western countries, which were going to transform the world. However, some years later, it was he who had been transformed, and Omer wished he could look into his eyes and tell him the truth. At the same time, he knew that that occasion would never arise.
TO BE CONTINUED