Student or Learner
Would you please correct the mistakes in the fourth part of my short story?
Another year passed, and the young man finished his secondary school. He wanted to study at university and was both excited and anxious. He had to move to a city where he knew no one. He would share accommodation with other students, cook his food, get new friends and colleagues, and swot to get his degree. He had visited the large city only once before, and during those hours, he was befuddled by a welter of impressions which assaulted his senses. The wide avenues, heavy traffic, honking horns, clanking trams, dusty buses, large blocks of flats with no trees around, streets jammed with people, smells of exhaust fumes, factory smokes and gasses, overflowing rubbish bins, and hot asphalt had been in such a contrast to his beautiful garden and the quiet street. Now he had to spend years in that soot and dirt until he got his diploma and then hopefully a job somewhere else. How would he live without Jasmine? She had become part of him as if they had lived together for years. He had to do something before it was too late. He had to tell her what he had been feeling for her. He would give her some of his poems, even if he risked being ridiculed and rejected. He could not hide any longer.
The country in which the young man was born had not had a war in the last 45 years, but suddenly hatred turned into a virus which spread with the speed of telepathy. It had become the norm. If you did not hate, you were an anomaly and should keep quiet, otherwise people labelled you a traitor.
The strange illness appeared first in the heads of some intellectuals and politicians who propounded the idea that only their nation had the right to govern the country. They ordered people to excavate the medieval graves and collect up the old bones which had been lying there for hundreds of years. They carried them all over the country in the long processions. The participants waved flags, banners and posters and yelled that they would never betray the spirit of the fallen heroes. When the other two nations saw what was going on, they mobilized their people, and soon the stadiums, halls and streets resounded with speeches demanding revenge. The large crowds responded with cheers and applause, and they promised to make sacrifices and fight to the end. Out of their cupboards and hidden wardrobes, some men had taken the old, moth-eaten uniforms, which had not seen the light for decades. They cleaned them carefully, pinned the old medals on and, all in black, strutted around like sinister ghost, talking about the imminent killing and destruction.
The young man watched TV and listened to the radio while the pain grew in his stomach. Were his people really so evil and stupid? How could they suddenly start hating their neighbours, acquaintances and friends when they had lived in peace in harmony all these years? How was it possible to manipulate them to such an extent that they wished to exterminate other nations only because of their different names? At least after Auschwitz people should have learnt something. But the citizens of his homeland seemed to have a short memory. They cheered their leaders, who shepherded them straight into a slaughterhouse. They were not interested in creating new job opportunities, building new factories, and a better future for their offspring. What made their hearts pound was not the promise of peace and love, but blood which would be spilt, and the mass graves dug all over the country.
Spring was warm and sunny as before, but a chill had invaded people’s hearts. Old friendships were broken, marriages collapsed, sports and other clubs split, and work colleagues stopped talking to each other because of the political disagreements. On the nearby mountain, the unknown men had seized the TV and radio transmitters, from which they started to spread more hatred and propaganda.
The worse was yet to come. Father, who was a bus driver, one morning returned from his job earlier than usual, and broke the news that he had been sacked. A few days later, the same fate befell Mother. She returned from the supermarket, where she worked as a cashier, with a piece of paper signed by a new boss, who dismissed her without an explanation. Before long, all their neighbours shared the similar fate. Because of their names, they were not welcome in the new country which was just taking shape.
TO BE CONTINUED