Student or Learner
This is the third part of my short story, "The Nineties." Please would you take a look at it and correct my mistakes.
I returned home and found my father listening to the radio in his bedroom. Since he retired because of his ill health about eight years ago, listening to the news from the whole world had become one of his favourite occupations. The BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, France International and Radio Moscow had all programs in Serbo-Croatian, and my father listened to them from early morning until late in the night, besides listening to our national stations. Since I could remember, he had always had his shortwave radio beside him, and was eager to know what was going on in the world. He never trusted communist propaganda and when communism collapsed, he did not trust the new government either.
“Found a job?” he asked when I opened the door.
“No, I just went for a stroll in town.”
“Strolling is for pensioners and lazy people.” he sneered and spoiled my mood.
Recently, my father had been pestering me to move away and find a job. “How long am I going to support you with my meagre pension? When I was your age, I had a job and my own flat. I didn’t sponge on my father. I just took my bag and left. Why can’t you do the same?” His telling-off made me feel angry and guilty. I was 26 and felt like a failure. I had finished college, done military service and then tried to enrol at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb and study film and TV directing, but after the entrance exams, my name never appeared on the enrolment list. I had to wait another year and tried again, this time convinced they would understand what a great gift I had, but apparently, they had not understood, and my name was again not on the list. Then came the third, fourth and fifth attempt, all of which with the same result. If the war in Croatia had not broken out, I would have probably tried the sixth time - such was my desire to make films. Every time when I returned home with the news of my failure, I had to endure a long sermon and the telling off by my father. “I told you, you don’t have a chance. If you were a child of an actor, musician or politician, I’d believe they’d give you an opportunity, but remember you are the child of an ordinary worker. Why don’t you study something easy, become an engineer or teacher and live well for the rest of your life? And what are you going to do if your dream never comes true? Are you going to sponge on me until my death?”
I had also understood how unrealistic my dream was, but I did not want to give up. I believed I was a new Ingmar Bergman, Tarkovsky or Wells. I wanted to show the world my visions, ideas and fantasies, and make pictures that would stay long in people’s minds. Every time I failed, my pain became greater. But I also failed to understand how much I was hurting my father. The sons of his friends and acquaintances had become successful men, well- educated and well-established, while his own son sat at home daydreaming. He started to call me good-for-nothing. I believed he was going to stop but he went on. “Good-for-nothing, bring me some water. Good-for-nothing, what time is it?” I felt hurt, but kept a poker face. After all, I had nothing to reproach him for. I was a healthy man but lived like a parasite.
My parents divorced when I was six years old, and while I lived all the time with my father, my mother took custody of my sister, who eventually went to university and became a psychologist. My mother used her success to hurt my father. She would tell me that if she had taken care of me, I would have become a well-educated man and started my own family. If I needed any kind of help or asked her for money, she would cross her arms over her chest and scowled. “Don’t ask me. It is your father who’s responsible for you.” Her words felt like a long, sharp needles piercing my body. I loathed her and wanted to smash up her flat to make her pay for her callousness. When I told my father how she brushed me off, his face turned crimson. He swore loudly and became so upset that his left hand became stiff. We both panicked and I started to massage it vigorously. It took me a few minutes until I could feel his muscles moving under my fingers, and I heaved a sigh of relief. My father had several heart attacks in the past, and I knew that the next time when his heart gave him a trouble it could be his end.
To be continued
Thank you Tarheel.
You see this phrase "it could be the end of him," is actually the one which I should have used if my knowledge of English had been better. "It could be the end of him" is exactly what I meant.
I guess I'm good for something.
In my eyes, you are like a diamond. Diamonds never grow old.