Student or Learner
Would you please correct my mistakes in the ninth part of my short story?
In the cloakroom, he looked in the cracked mirror and winced at his own image. His dark hair was dirty and tangled, framing his gaunt face and scruffy beard. His black eyes had lost their lustre. They looked back at him like two dejected dots devoid of life. His clothes were soiled and smelled of rancid sweat. How he wished to feel the warm water splashing on his body! He imagined standing under the shower for hours with his eyes closed, letting the stream wash away the dirt, stench and fear. Nowadays, whenever he looked towards the shower cubicles, he flinched and almost threw up because large blotches of dried blood stared at him. In this wretched disused factory, the red liquid flew instead of water, and it swept humanity away. What was left over were two sorts of creatures, one that had an opportunity to act out their perverted dreams and wishes, and the other whose only goal was to avoid a prolonged, torturous death.
He sat on his sheet of cardboard most of the time, with his legs folded under him, sideways, in front of him, crossed, pulled up with his arms clasped around them, in a lotus position or squatting. If he survived, would he ever be able to sit as a normal human being? Would his spine become straight again? Inmates around him prattled without a break. They were unaware of their transformation. They spent hours listening to a waiter narrating and embellishing his stories about the parties he had served at, the abundance of food and drink he would bring on the tables, and the generous tips he would receive. When he tired or his memories or imagination failed him, a cook would step in with his kitchen stories about the meals he had prepared, spicing them up with small details about the succulent lamb ribs, juicy beef, or bream cooked in white wine. The emaciated men gaped at him as if they were children listening to beautiful fairy tales. Others discussed national and international politics, tried to find reasons why the world was indifferent to the suffering of their nation, and why nobody tried to stop the killing that went on close to the European major capitals. The Holly books were cited, the Quran and the Bible, Marx, Lenin, Sartre... People got into arguments as if their views could change anything. Engineers, teachers, professors, office workers and the others competed with each other with their intellect and knowledge, only to understand later on how futile their debate had been, for frequently a drunk, furious guard would burst inside brandishing a club or a baseball bat and beat people at random. He was like a fast boat cleaving through the sea - the sea of humans, who screamed, cowered against each other and shielded their heads.
The young man had a bad time while all these discussions went on. Even Father was eager to make his point, and became agitated when others did not agree with him. He had lost much weight, but still had a zeal to remonstrate with people. The young man wanted to tell him to calm down and save his energy for more important things, but his words would probably be ignored. Father was beyond help, infected by the prison camp.
As it was impossible for him to block his ears or find a pair of earplugs, the young man daydreamed to maintain his sanity. He gazed through the entrance door of the prison camp, beyond the machine-gun nest and the fence towards the thickets and woods. Jasmine, barefoot and wearing a long white dress, strolled among the plants just as she had done in her garden. She stared at him with her deep blue eyes and ruffled her hair. She wanted him, yearned for his kisses and arms. He could spend hours in such a state. His senses registered neither voices nor stench, nor was he hungry. It was a miracle that his mind could create such vivid pictures, which seemed more real than reality. Still, he felt ashamed that he thought more of Jasmine than Mother, who must have been terrified, knowing nothing about their fate.
One day a group of well-dressed foreign men and women entered the camp. They talked through a translator, and told them they were from the International Red Cross. They asked how they felt. The guards were around listening to every word. Nobody dared to tell them the truth. They were fine; they did not lack anything, they answered. Judging by their faces, the International Red Cross representatives were not convinced. Their lifted their eyebrows, wrinkled their noses, shook their heads and asked, “Are you sure?” They promised to return with help as soon as possible and rushed outside before they got sick to their stomachs.
Two days later, they were back with food packages, fruit, medicine and blankets. They drew up a list of the inmates, and before they left, they promised to come back with the buses to drive them to freedom. The young man chewed an apple for the first time after more than three months and felt its juice trickling down his dry, parched throat. He had returned from the dead.
TO BE CONTINUED