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    #1

    The captain, part two

    Please would you take a look at the second part of my short story, "The captain", and correct my mistakes.

    My three aunts did their best to replace my mother. They all loved me enormously, but they could not make up completely for my mother’s love and the loss of my sister. The oldest was Bisera. One day she travelled to Sarajevo to visit our relatives, and through them, she met an older man and married him. She was nearing her forties, and this was her last opportunity to have a husband. She was fortunate with him and even gave birth to a healthy daughter. Azemina and Fatima still remained in the house and shared with us everything. Fatima was the youngest, about thirty years of age and worked in a factory, often the night shift. She had many marriage proposals, but somehow none of the men who were interested in her could win her heart.
    Azemina was my favourite. She was a born optimist, a tireless fighter who would never give up, a comedian who could quip and crack a joke off-the-cuff. While Fatima was very feminine and spent his free time doing embroidery, needlepoint, and knitting, Azemina was more inclined to do a typical male work like chopping trees, splitting wood, digging earth, and painting walls. She would cut the throat of a chicken without batting an eye. When my father was repairing his car, it was usually Azemina who would give him a hand. She was strong like a man, but still her body was curvy, and she would never go to town or market without make-up.

    Azemina woke up around five every morning. Her routine was always the same. She ignited the fire in the wood-burning stove in the kitchen, and then went outside to feed the chickens, who eagerly awaited her to open the coop and give them some food. Our dog Toby greeted her always with a bark, wagged its tail, and ran around her legs, impatient to be stroked and patted. She woke up Fatima and brew tea for her before she left for her job. Then she woke up my father and made him strong coffee and breakfast. Finally it was my turn to start a day with hot chocolate and a proper breakfast that would give me enough energy for long school hours. While we were away, she cooked, washed, cleaned and went to town to do shopping. She had never been sick and never complained. She seemed to have accepted her fate as it was, and found pleasure in what she did. If she needed any help with household chores, my other aunt and I were always around to give her a hand. Azemina was not only my aunt, she had become my second mother, and between her and me, there were no secrets. We had spent most of the time together. Often, I would sit in the kitchen doing my homework while my aunt was preparing food. Her presence had always a soothing effect on me. I was never troubled by the sounds of hacking, grating, cutting, sizzling or boiling, which my aunt made from early morning until evening. Whatever she did, a look at her dark eyes made me feel safe and calm. As I ate her food, I wondered how she learnt to cook so well, for she was almost illiterate. The main source of her knowledge regarding cooking was her acquaintances she occasionally met at the market, which was the place where people sold and bought things and exchanged the latest news and gossip.

    After my parents divorced, my uncles became so angry with my father that they were looking for him everywhere to settle a score. They must have felt offended that he had divorced their youngest sister. They were five burly men who could maul my father to death just as lions do with antelopes. One day they arrived with a red BMW to our house and started shouting and pounding on our door. It was thick and made of solid wood, but their hammering was so vicious that I believed the door was going to collapse in an instant. “Why are you hiding? Come outside if you are a man!” they shouted. We had no telephone and were completely helpless. My aunts and I stood behind the curtain and peered anxiously outside. We could see the BMW parked in front of our house, but we could not see my uncles because of the wall. Their angry voices made me panic. If they burst inside, they were going to kill my aunts and kidnap me. I was never going to see my home again. I knew that Azemina would fight like a lioness, but what could she do against five strong men. I could not believe that my uncles, who once held me on their laps and patted me friendly, now had become such evil men and wanted to kill my father. Eventually they tired, climbed into their car and drove off, tires screeching as it rounded the corner. I held Azemina’s hand all the time and I did not dare to release it long after they had gone.

    My father returned in the afternoon and was furious. My uncles had been at the building company where he worked, early in the morning, searching for him, but the guard at the entrance felt they were dangerous. He told them my father had already left his workplace and he did not know his whereabouts. When my father heard what had happened with us, he trembled with fury. I had never before heard him swearing, but this time he swore and cursed, and called the uncles yokels who would remain uncivilised even if they moved to town. He hugged me and told me not to be afraid. “All this is your mother’s plot.” He drew deeply on his cigarette; his hand was shaking. “She’s blinded with hatred. I had not driven her away. It was her own decision, and now she wants to punish me.”
    On that day, I knew I had lost my mother forever. Since she left, she did not bother to come to see me, and at the same time, she dispatched her brothers to spread fear. I despised her and did not believe her for a minute when she later on told me she loved me dearly. After this traumatic episode, I had recurrent nightmares. I dreamed about the red car chasing me through the street. The hands of one of my uncles stretched out; he was laughing as he grabbed me and pushed me into the car. I screamed and flailed my arms and woke up covered in sweat. The first time I had such an awful dream I ran into the room where my two aunts slept and lay beside Azemina. Her warm body gave me protection and security, and I went to sleep immediately. I felt like sleeping with a lioness that would defend me from anyone who wished to harm me. In the coming months and years, I would return to her bed often, and she never complained. On the contrary, when we woke up, she would give me a comforting hug, ruffle my hair and kiss me saying, “Don’t be afraid, they’ll never take you from me.”

    During the years, she and I developed a great bond. When I did not have school, we went together to town, strolled the street and did shopping. She took me with her to the market and taught me how to distinguish fresh vegetables, eggs and fish from the bad ones. She taught me how to knock on a watermelon to hear a hollow sound as a sign of its ripeness. She showed me at which stall to buy the best cheese, cream and other dairy products, and where to haggle over the price. When we had done all our shopping, we would visit a patisserie and indulge in pastries, cakes and ice cream. The owner was a kind man who knew my aunt for years, and he would tell us which of his products were freshly baked, and which he would not recommend because they were stale. “Those are not good for the boy,” he would say and pat me on the head.
    To be continued
    Last edited by Bassim; 07-Feb-2015 at 18:50.

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The captain, part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post

    My three aunts did their best to replace my mother. They all loved me enormously, but they could not make up completely for my mother’s love and the loss of my sister. The oldest was Bisera. One day she travelled to Sarajevo to visit our relatives, and through them, she met an older man and married him. She was nearing her forties, and this was her last opportunity to have a husband. She was fortunate with him and even gave birth to a healthy daughter. Azemina and Fatima still remained in the house and shared everything with us. Fatima was the youngest, about thirty years of age and worked in a factory, often the night shift. She had many marriage proposals, but somehow none of the men who were interested in her could win her heart.

    Azemina was my favourite. She was a born optimist, a tireless fighter who would never give up, a comedian who could quip and crack a joke off-the-cuff. While Fatima was very feminine and spent her free time doing embroidery, needlepoint, and knitting, Azemina was more inclined to do a typical male work like chopping trees, splitting wood, digging ditches, and painting walls. She would cut the throat of a chicken without batting an eye. When my father was repairing his car, it was usually Azemina who would give him a hand. She was strong like a man, but still her body was curvy, and she would never go to town or market without make-up.
    Going to town and going to market are two different things?

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    #3

    Re: The captain, part two

    Hello Tarheel.
    Regarding "going to town and going to market", maybe I should just use "she would never go to town without make-up.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The captain, part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Hello Tarheel.
    Regarding "going to town and going to market", maybe I should just use "she would never go to town without make-up.
    Yes, because "going to town" and "going to market" probably mean the same thing.

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    #5

    Re: The captain, part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Azemina woke up around five every morning. Her routine was always the same. She started the fire in the wood-burning stove in the kitchen, and then she went outside to feed the chickens, who eagerly waited for her to open the coop and give them some food. Our dog Toby always greeted her with a bark, wagged its tail, and ran around her legs, impatient to be stroked and patted. She woke up Fatima and brewed tea for her before she left for her job. Then she woke up my father and made him strong coffee and breakfast. Finally it was my turn to start a day with hot chocolate and a proper breakfast that would give me enough energy for long school hours. While we were away, she cooked, washed, cleaned and went to town to do shopping. She was never sick and never complained. She seemed to have accepted her fate as it was, and found pleasure in what she did. If she needed any help with household chores, my other aunt and I were always around to give her a hand. Azemina was not only my aunt, she had become my second mother, and between her and me, there were no secrets. We spent most our time together. Often, I would sit in the kitchen doing my homework while my aunt was preparing food. Her presence always had a soothing effect on me. I was never troubled by the sounds of hacking, grating, cutting, sizzling or boiling, which my aunt made from early morning until evening. Whatever she did, a look at her dark eyes made me feel safe and calm. As I ate her food, I wondered how she had learnt to cook so well, for she was almost illiterate. The main source of her knowledge regarding cooking was her acquaintances she occasionally met at the market, which was the place where people sold and bought things and exchanged the latest news and gossip.
    Well, a lot of girls learn how to cook from their moms, and they don't necessarily write things down. They just tell them stuff.

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    #6

    Re: The captain, part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post

    After my parents divorced, my uncles became so angry with my father that they looked for him everywhere as if they wanted to settle a score.
    I don't understand this one. Why would they look for him, since they clearly knew where he lived?

    Got to go!


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    #7

    Re: The captain, part two

    I am wondering why is the word "ignite" not good choice in the sentence... "she ignited the fire"?

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    #8

    Re: The captain, part two

    You are right. I did not think about that phrase, but now when you noticed that I understand that it is wrong. Probably I should write instead: After my parents divorced my uncles wanted to settle a score with my father.

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    #9

    Re: The captain, part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    I am wondering why is the word "ignite" not good choice in the sentence... "she ignited the fire"?
    There is nothing wrong with "ignite" there. It just doesn't seem natural.

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    #10

    Re: The captain, part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    You are right. I did not think about that phrase, but now when you noticed that I understand that it is wrong. Probably I should write instead: After my parents divorced my uncles wanted to settle a score with my father.
    This is just a suggestion, but I think you should say something like this:

    After the divorce, my uncles (my mother's brothers) took things personally. They were offended that my father had had the temerity to divorce my mother. (It didn't matter that it was her idea. The whole family was more than a little crazy.)

    What do you think? Don't I have some wonderful ideas?

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