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    #1

    Ducks

    Would you please correct grammar and punctuation in my text?

    Early in the morning, before dawn, I often walk to the river and sit on a small jetty. My only companion is a flotilla of ducks. When I first came there, years ago, they would quack and flutter away, but now they have become used to me and sit just a meter or two from me or bob peacefully in the water. We have become like old acquaintances who have learnt to respect each other. I often wonder what they think of me. They certainly have discussions in their duck language about a man who regularly comes to sit by the river.
    “Poor human,” one of them says. “Here is he again.”
    “He is depressive,” the other says. “Sooner or later he is going to kill himself.”
    “Humans are doomed to suffering,” the third chimes in. “They make mischief, kill each other and manipulate each other as no other creatures do. They are power-hungry, greedy and never satiated.”
    “But this one is different,” says the first.
    “Maybe, he is, says the second. “But you can’t trust him. If he were hungry, he’d kill us without compunction.”
    “Best to ignore him, adds the third. “He is beyond help anyway.”

    At this time of the day, the silence is immense, broken occasionally by the regular strides of a jogger on a nearby path. A bicycle crunches pass, its owner rushing to the morning shift. And then, ducks and I are alone again, surrounded by the quiet river and greenery. I could stay in this place forever. If I had enough food and a bed to sleep, I would not lack my fellow humans at all. I have already reduced my contact with other people to a minimum. There was a time when I talked to almost everyone, when I was glad, positive and open like a new dawn. But something had happened years ago. It was the moment I understood I was talking to the people who had never been free, and do not know what real freedom is. When I told them what I thought of them and their society, they became angry. “How dared I criticize the country that offered me refuge and saved my life? How dared I bite the hand that feeds me?” They were fuming with anger, and they told me I should return to my homeland, where people cut each other’s throats and tortured prisoners in the cruelest way in prison camps. They are right. I should keep quiet, like sheep or cows do. You have got a roof over your head and food on your table, and you have no right to complain. You should not even use your brain, because politicians will tell you what is right or wrong and how to behave. Your duty is to go to your job, pay your tax and listen to the media to get the new orders for the coming days. Mr Orwell’s idea of Big Brother was crude. He could not have imagined Big Brother ensconced in every brain - millions of perfectly synchronized Big Brothers who never make a mistake, never stray from the course.

    But what if by chance you say aloud, “No! This is wrong! You have no right to manipulate me, to tell me what is right or wrong. I am a free human being with a free will.”
    In that case, you risk losing your job, friends, acquaintances, and reputation. You have broken a taboo, which is unforgivable. If you had stolen something, robbed a bank or went drunk to your job, people would forgive you, but you have used your mind to find a flaw in the system, which is a cardinal sin. In the eyes of others, you are either a certifiable fool or a rebel who will be marginalized for the rest of your life. Don’t be afraid, they were not going to punish you, or imprison you like they do in other totalitarian systems. They will be no courts or trumped-up charges. You will slowly destroy yourself, wither away like a plant in a dark room, or shrink like a picked balloon.

    Every morning I wake up in darkness, dress myself, and go out in the cold air. I walk through the block of flats where my neighbours still peacefully sleep, and then I take a path lined with trees down to the river. The gravel crunches under my feet, while the birds awaken with the first light twitter and sing in the trees. I inhale deeply, letting my lungs fill with the breeze coming from the river, and I feel immediately a rush as if I have taken a drug. The ducks barley register my arrival and paddle around, occasionally dipping their heads under the surface. I sit down, splash a handful of water on my face and feel clean like a religious man performing ablutions. As the yellow line of the sunlight appears on the horizon, I pray to the river, “Protect me. Nourish me. Don’t let them kill humanity inside me.”
    Here, I am still safe. The authorities have not been interested in ducks, birds and rivers until now. But what is going happen when one day they manage to apply their manipulation techniques on nature and animals, and condition them to behave in a certain way which politicians deem correct? Where will I run then? Where will I hide? Who will soothe my ravaged soul?

  1. teechar's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Ducks

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Early in the morning, before dawn, I often walk to the river and sit on a small jetty. My only companions is are a flotilla of ducks. When I first came went there, years ago, they would quack and flutter away, but now they have become used to me and sit just a meter or two from me or bob peacefully in the water. We have become like old acquaintances who have learnt to respect each other. I often wonder what they think of me. They certainly have discussions in their duck language about a man who regularly comes to sit by the river.
    “Poor human,” one of them says. “Here he is he again.”
    “He is depressive,” the other says. “Sooner or later, he is going to kill himself.”
    “Humans are doomed to suffering,” the third chimes in. “They make mischief, kill each other and manipulate each other as no other creatures do. They are power-hungry, greedy and never satiated.”
    “But this one is different,” says the first.
    “Maybe, he is", says the second. “But you can’t trust him. If he were hungry, he’d kill us without compunction.”
    “Best to ignore him, adds the third. “He is beyond help anyway.”

    At this time of the day, the silence is immense, broken occasionally by the regular strides of a jogger on a nearby path. A bicycle crunches past, its owner rushing to the morning shift. And then, the ducks and I are alone again, surrounded by the quiet river and the greenery. I could stay in this place forever. If I had enough food and a bed to sleep in, I would not lack miss my fellow humans at all. I have already reduced my contact with other people to a minimum. There was a time when I talked to almost anyone, everyone, when I was glad, positive and open like a new dawn. But something had happened years ago. It was the moment I understood I was talking to the people who had never been free, and do had not known what real freedom is. When I told them what I thought of them and their society, they became angry. How dared I criticize the country that offered me refuge and saved my life? How dared I bite the hand that fed me? They were fuming with anger, and they told me I should return to my homeland, where people cut each other’s throats and tortured prisoners in the cruelest way in prison camps. They are right. I should keep quiet, like sheep or cows do. You have got a roof over your head and food on your table, and you have no right to complain. You should not even use your brain, because politicians will tell you what is right or wrong and how to behave. Your duty is to go to do your job, pay your tax and listen to the media to get the new orders for the coming days. Mr Orwell’s idea of Big Brother was crude. He could not have imagined Big Brother ensconced in every brain - millions of perfectly synchronized Big Brothers who never make a mistake, never stray from the course.

    But what if by chance you say aloud, “No! This is wrong! You have no right to manipulate me; to tell me what is right or wrong. I am a free human being with a free will.”
    In that case, you risk losing your job, friends, acquaintances, and reputation. You have broken a taboo, which is unforgivable. If you had stolen something, robbed a bank or went to work drunk, to your job, people would might forgive you, but since you have used your mind to find a flaw in the system, which that is a cardinal sin. In the eyes of others, you are either a certifiable fool or a rebel who will be marginalized for the rest of your life. Don’t be afraid, they were are not going to punish you, or imprison you like they do in other totalitarian systems. They will be no courts or trumped-up charges. You will slowly destroy yourself; wither away like a plant in a dark room, or shrink like a pricked balloon.

    Every morning, I wake up in darkness, dress myself, and go out in the cold air. I walk through the block of flats where my neighbours still peacefully sleep, and then I take a path lined with trees down to the river. The gravel crunches under my feet, while the birds awaken with the first light and twitter and sing in the trees. I inhale deeply, letting my lungs fill with the breeze coming from the river, and I feel immediately a rush as if I have taken a drug. The ducks barley register my arrival and paddle around, occasionally dipping their heads under the surface. I sit down, splash a handful of water on my face and feel clean like a religious man performing ablutions. As the yellow line of the sunlight appears on the horizon, I pray to the river, “Protect me. Nourish me. Don’t let them kill my humanity." inside me.”

    Here, I am still safe. The authorities have not been interested in ducks, birds and rivers until now. But what is going happen when one day they manage to apply their manipulation techniques on to nature and animals, and condition them to behave in a certain way which politicians deem correct? Where will I run then? Where will I hide? Who will soothe my ravaged soul?
    I'm not sure I understood what you meant by the highlighted part. It's been a long time since I read 1984!

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    #3

    Re: Ducks

    teechar,

    Thank you for correcting my mistakes.

    What a meant by the sentence which you have highlighted is that in his novel "1984," Orwell has imagined one single Big Brother who controls the whole society. But what I see now are people who behave as if they have a Big Brother inside their brains. They have been conditioned from their childhood to behave and think in a certain way so that the state does not need Big Brother who will order them what to do. In every one of them sits a Big Brother who is doing his job perfectly well, so there is no need for the police, courts or other means of coercion.

  2. teechar's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Ducks

    OK, now I get you.
    Try this:
    He could not have imagined Big Brother ensconced in every brain - millions of perfectly synchronized self-policing citizens who never make a mistake and never stray from the course set for them by the system.

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    #5

    Re: Ducks

    teechar,
    I am wondering if you have made a mistake, adding "and" in one of my sentences.
    My version:The gravel crunches under my feet, while the birds awaken with the first light twitter and sing in the trees.

    Your version:
    The gravel crunches under my feet, while the birds awaken with the first light and twitter and sing in the trees.

  3. teechar's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Ducks

    No, I don't think so. To me "the first light twitter" wouldn't make sense. So, you can either put a comma after "light", or better, add a conjunction, as I did.
    [awaken] and [twitter and sing]

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    #7

    Re: Ducks

    One small thing. You could say:

    I used to talk to everybody.

    teechar did a good job.

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    #8

    Re: Ducks

    I have some questions on the 2nd paragraph:

    A bicycle crunches pa
    st, its owner rushing to the morning shift.

    I dont think the sentence above is complete.


    How dared I criticize the country that offered me refuge and saved my life? How dared I bite the hand that fed me?

    Is it correct to used "dared" in the sentences above? I would say: how could I dare to...

    Typo error in the second last paragraph: The ducks barley barely register
    I am not a teacher.

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    #9

    Re: Ducks

    Quote Originally Posted by tedmc View Post
    I have some questions on the 2nd paragraph:

    A bicycle crunches pa
    st, its owner rushing to the morning shift.

    I dont think the sentence above is complete.


    How dared I criticize the country that offered me refuge and saved my life? How dared I bite the hand that fed me?

    Is it correct to used "dared" in the sentences above? I would say: how could I dare to...

    Typo error in the second last paragraph: The ducks barley barely register
    1. Perhaps:

    A bicycle crunches past, its owner rushing to work to start the morning shift.

    2. Good point! Perhaps:

    How dare I be so presumptuous? How could I dare to question the natural order of things?

    (Or maybe your suggestion is better.)

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    #10

    Re: Ducks

    I do not know what to say. In my ears, my sentence, "A bicycle crunches past, its owner rushing to the morning shift," sounds acceptable, but I am not a native speaker, and maybe I am wrong.
    Tarheel's version: "A bicycle crunches past, its owner rushing to work to start the morning shift," has a verb "start", which is redundant in this sentence. If he is rushing to work, it implies that he will start to work.
    And regarding the second sentence, it sounds all right in my ears, but I could be wrong.

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