This is the fourteenth part of my short story, Friends. Please, would you correct my mistakes.
When the same nightmare occurred a few more times, he decided to sleep on the sofa in the living room. Merima wouldn’t hear of it, saying that a wife’s place is always with her husband. Omer, however, was stubborn and he spent two calm nights sleeping like a log, but the third night Milan returned, whereupon quarrelled ensued and usual threats to Omer’s live. Night after night Omer fought with his tormentor, and in the morning, he was completely exhausted. He had difficulties concentrating at work, thinking all the time about the previous night and his former friend, who would always appear with different kinds of weapons in his hand. It was not only knives, but also bats, metal rods, pistols, axes and even chain saws. Why was Milan always the attacker and he the victim? Why couldn’t the roles be reversed at least for once? After all, he was the real victim; he had become a refugee; he had lost everything and had to start again from scratch. He wished to avenge on Milan at least in a dream. Unfortunately, his dreams followed their own logic over which he had no influence whatsoever.
One morning a nurse was walking down the corridor and when passing by Dr Osmanovic’s consulting room she overheared him talking loudly in a foreign language, which she did not understand. She believed he was on the telephone talking with some of his fellow countrymen. As a native Swedish person, she was used to people talking quietly. Foreigners who talked loudly and gesticulated made her nervous. She respected Omer, but hearing for the first time his loud and agitated voice made her think of him as an unpolished immigrant who would never become a proper Swede.
Two days later Omer had to perform an operation at 10 a.m. Everything and everybody was ready, but he, for some reason, did not appear. This was very strange and unusual for Dr Osmanovic, who would routinely fulfil all his duties with exactitude. A nurse was sent to see what was happening. Walking towards his consulting room, she could hear his booming voice talking in a foreign language. She knocked on the door but did not wait for Dr Osmanovic to tell her to come inside. She opened the door expecting to see him sitting with the telephone receiver in his hand. Instead, she was puzzled to see him standing in front of the mirror, talking to himself, vividly gesticulating. At first, she was silent, unable to say anything. “Maybe, he is the member of an amateur theatre group,” she thought. “He is preparing some kind of soliloquy, which had taken all his attention.”
“Dr Osmanovic,” she said quietly, and when Omer did not react, she raised her voice and called again, this time in a loud voice. As if awakened from a trance, Omer jerked, shuddered and lapsed into silence. His eyes met hers and he blushed.
“Dr Osmanovic,” she said, “the patient is waiting for you.”
The operation went smoothly and Omer behaved as he always did performing operations: he was fully concentrated and attentive, holding his instrument like a virtuoso over the patient’s knee. When the man awoke, Omer gave him a broad smile, asking him if everything was all right. However, when later on nurses sat together for a coffee break, the news about Dr Osmanovic’s strange behaviour spread among the staff. They agreed that there was apparently something wrong with that man, even if he was an excellent surgeon. It turned out that many had overheard Omer talking aloud in a foreign language behind the door of his consulting room, and now when they had the confirmation that he was talking to himself, they decided to keep their eyes on him.
One night little Selma woke up and wanted to go to the toilet. As she stepped into the living room, she saw her father talking with someone and gesticulating. The room lay in semi-darkness, and she was on the verge of running to her parent’s bedroom asking her mother for protection. After a second or two, her eyes became accustomed to the darkness and she understood that her father was alone, facing the wall with a few paintings hanging on it. Selma was bilingual and usually had no problem understanding his father, but this time he was talking politics, using the words and expressions she was unable to comprehend. She went to the toilet and then returned passing by close to him, but he continued with his monologue, as if she was invisible.
When Omer left for his job, and his wife and daughter were still at the table eating breakfast, Selma told her mother what happened the previous night. Merima did not want to believe her. “You must have been dreaming,” she said. Selma answered that she was not dreaming at all, but saw her father talking to himself. “Did you hear that story in school?” her mother asked, believing that a seven-year old child can invent all kinds of stories. However, her daughter did not want to change her story. She repeated again and again that her father was talking to the wall and did not even glance at her.
Two days later, Merima was thirsty in the middle of the night. She woke up, opened the door, and lo and behold, she heard his husband talking. Venetian blinds were partially closed, letting the moonlight into the room. She slunk behind him, feeling pity for him. He stood opposite the wall, gesticulating. He was dressed in a blue pyjama and was barefoot. His brown hair was dishevelled from sleep. It became clear to her that besides being Omer, he was also assuming the role of his former friend Milan. “They” were discussing the war in Bosnia and its aftermath, but Omer’s sentences were incoherent for Merima to make any sense of them. She felt so sorry for him and was on the verge of crying. She went to the kitchen to drink some water. She stood above the sink, watching the flow of water disappearing into the drain and asking herself if her happiness and marriage was going to end in disaster. A few minutes later, she returned to her room and almost brushed against his husband, who seemed to be unaffected by her presence.
TO BE CONTINUED
Student or Learner