Student or Learner
Please would you take a look at the second part of my short story, "Lieutenant" and correct my mistakes.
I wished to sign for an AK-47, but the captain responsible for our unit took a look at me and shoved into my hands an RPG. The metal tube felt heavy and cumbersome, and I did not like it, but I knew I was in the place where the word “no” did not exist. The following days we had our first drills with weapons and then day after day of long marches into the hills, which made me curse everything and everybody. I was completely exhausted, and when we returned in the afternoon in the barracks, drenched in sweat and covered in dust and dirt, I only wished to go to bed and sleep. But that was impossible because after dinner we had to clean our rooms and the long corridor that should be polished until it shone like a mirror. I had large, burning blisters on my hands and feet that seemed never to heal.
Even in the evening, we could not relax because everyone had to watch TV news. It was compulsory, and the goal was to keep us informed about the achievements of our great country. According to the news, our nation was making progress in all areas of human development. Everything was growing and developing and the country was blooming like a cherry tree in spring. The beautiful newsreader reeled off information as if she were an automaton, showing no emotion whatsoever. She was probably as bored as her audience was, knowing that the next evening there would be the same excellent news.
I would sit in silence pretending to be interested in the achievements of my homeland, but my mind was somewhere else. I was thinking about my girlfriend and saw her in my mind’s eye. I wondered if she was yearning for me, as I did for her. I saw my home and my parents and I yearned for my mother’s food. Sometimes I argued with myself, blaming myself for not fleeing the country and finding shelter in the West. When I imagined myself walking in the large, fashionable streets with magnificent buildings covered in billboards, my inner voice shouted at me, “How can you be such coward and egoist? You’d be ready to run away from your family just to escape 12 months of the military service? How can you call yourself a man?”
We had a modest breakfast consisting of tea, an egg, two wedges of spreadable cheese and a few rashers of bacon, which were swimming in fat and made me sick just by looking at them. Nobody could tell me why we had to eat first and then immediately after that do callisthenics and ran. It must have been one of the military illogical rules, which nobody dared to challenge and change. I felt like an idiot bending up and down, swaying my body and jumping in the air, with my stomach sloshing and knotting and my guts rumbling in protest.
At 8 o'clock every morning, we had political training, which was more important than our military one. We sat like pupils in a classroom and were carefully observed by the bearded Marx, Engels, and our beloved Marshal in his dazzling white uniform covered in diamonds, gold orders and medals. Their pictures hang above the blackboard and it was impossible to avoid them. If I turned my head to the right or left, I could read citations from the same people who looked at us. The most prominent were the wisest words of our leader about brotherhood and unity and importance of defending our homeland. I had no difficulties to follow our teacher and his lectures, a middle-aged major, an intelligent and well-educated man, but for many soldiers coming from villages these hours were a torture.
Their minds were in their respective villages, with their people who were now lacking an important member of their families. Land had to be tilled, crop sawn and harvested, grass cut, and animals taken care of. Many were married and now their children lacked their fathers to teach them the secrets of the world. And here they had to listen to the convoluted concepts and ideas, which would never stay in their minds. Dialectical materialism, class-consciousness, political economy and other terms were strange words that only made their heads spin. Their ignorance had been their way to survive. When they were young, their parents told them never to rebel and keep away from politics because sometimes the Party would kill its own members. History was full of stories of farmers starting revolutions but ending up dying impaled or brutally tortured.
To be continued.