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    #1

    The Last Lesson, part three

    Would you please correct my mistakes in the third part of my short story?

    The uncertainty was palpable in the coming days. Every time I went to town, I saw more checkpoints and more soldiers, especially so called “volunteers” who looked frightening in their black uniforms and their long knives hanging from their belts. They were dishevelled, and had long bushy beards. Instead of ordinary military caps, they wore some funny looking black fur caps with large metal emblems. I had seen the same uniforms in my history books when I was in primary school. They had been worn by the Serb nationalists called Chetniks who had committed horrific crimes in the Second World War. They never kept prisoners alive, and they would usually cut throats of their victims, or torture them in the most barbarous way. My father told me how he had escaped their knives by a hair’s breath. It felt surreal that after so many decades they were back again. They had come to my hometown like vultures smelling death.

    One day, the local government requested that all the weapons of the Territorial Defence be returned to the military. There were lively discussions in my suburb about what should be done. Some hotheads wanted to fight, even if they had just a few rounds in their old rifles, but in the end, the sanity prevailed, and all the weapons which my neighbours held in their homes were dutifully returned to the barracks. But some villages did not want to recognize the new government and they kept their weapons. That played straight into the hands of the Serb authorities. The military surrounded the villages and then started shelling them. I stood on my balcony and heard shells whistling right above my head, and I was so angry. Many villagers had been working abroad in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other countries. They had sacrificed much to build their houses, and a better future for their families. Now everything was turning into rubble and dust. I thought of women and children huddled in the cellars and the groves of oak and beech trees. They were screaming, crying, and becoming hysterical while their ill-armed men awaited the assault of the soldiers who did not obey the Geneva Convention or any other international rules of engagement.
    When after a few hours, shelling finally stopped, I knew that the beardy men dressed in black, whom I had seen in town a few days before, were now taking their large knives and getting to their bloody work. They killed the men, raped their wives, daughters and sisters, and plundered their homes before setting them on fire. The men who had been spared death were transported to prison camps, where they were imprisoned for months in the most appalling conditions. Village after village met the same grim fate. They were erased from the surface of earth as if they had never existed. The river, which meandered gently through and by them, now carried corpses downstream, as a warning to everyone who opposed the new order.

    I listened to the local radio, which spread only lies about the villagers. They were pictured as the dangerous terrorists and monsters who plotted against the Serb people. It was unbelievable that journalists could have behaved in such a disgraceful manner, but their bosses must have been pleased. Their propaganda was hugely successful, and many Serbs started to believe that their Bosniak and Croat neighbours really wanted to kill them. The newsreader on the radio had said that the Bosniak doctors gave intentionally the wrong medicine to the Serb patients and that they killed the newborn Serb babies. And people believed what they had heard because they had believed the radio and newspapers since the Communists came to power after the end of the Second World War. For the majority, it was always easier to swallow all the lies than use their own mind to search for the truth.

    I felt it was only a matter of time before we suffered the same fate as the surrounding villages. The Serb authorities would find a reason to get rid of us soon. They had been in hurry to implement their plan of ethnic cleansing before the world reacted. Unfortunately, I did not need to wait long. At the dawn of 30th May, I jumped out of my bed; awaken by explosions and heavy gunfire from the town centre. Father switched the radio on, and we heard a hectoring voice telling us that the Bosniak Green Berets had attacked the town. But the newsreader assured us that they would be defeated by the brave Serb soldiers. He went on to call all the Serbs to arms and the defence of their homeland and religion. He was ecstatic and spoke for hours. His text must have been prepared months in advance, and now the time had come to incite the Serbs to more hatred and violence.
    TO BE CONTINUED

  1. teechar's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    The uncertainty was became palpable in the coming over the following days. Every time I went to town, I saw more checkpoints and more soldiers, especially so-called “volunteers”, who looked frightening in their black uniforms and their long knives hanging from their belts. They were dishevelled, and had long bushy beards. Instead of ordinary military caps, they wore some funny-looking black fur caps with large metal emblems. I had seen the same uniforms in my history books when I was in primary school. They had been worn by the Serb nationalists, called Chetniks, who had committed horrific crimes in the Second World War. They never kept prisoners alive, and they would usually cut the throats of their victims, or torture them in the most barbarous way. My father told me how he had escaped their knives by a hair’s breadth. It felt surreal, that after so many decades, they were back again. They had come to my hometown like vultures smelling death.

    One day, the local government requested that all the weapons of the Territorial Defence be returned to the military. There were lively discussions in my suburb about what should be done. Some hotheads wanted to fight, even if they had just a few rounds in their old rifles, but in the end, the sanity prevailed, and all the weapons which my neighbours held people in my neighbourhood kept in their homes were dutifully returned to the barracks. But some villages did not want to recognize the new government, and they kept their weapons. That played straight into the hands of the Serb authorities. The military surrounded the villages and then started shelling them. I stood on my balcony and heard shells whistling right above my head, and I was so angry. Many villagers had been working abroad in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other countries. They had sacrificed much to build their houses, and to make a better future for their families. Now everything was turning into rubble and dust. I thought of women and children, huddled in their cellars, and of the groves of oak and beech trees. The people were screaming, crying, and becoming hysterical while their ill-armed men awaited the assault of the soldiers who did not obey the Geneva Convention or any other international rules of engagement.
    When after a few hours the shelling finally stopped, I knew that the beardy men dressed in black, whom I had seen in town a few days before, were now taking their large knives and getting to their bloody work. They killed the men, raped their wives, daughters and sisters, and plundered their homes before setting them on fire. The men who had been spared death were transported to prison camps, where they were imprisoned for months in the most appalling conditions. Village after village met the same grim fate. They were erased from the surface of Earth as if they had never existed. The river, which meandered gently through and by them, now carried corpses downstream, as a warning to everyone who opposed the new order.

    I listened to the local radio, which merely spread only lies about the villagers. They were pictured depicted as the dangerous terrorists and monsters who plotted against the Serb people. It was unbelievable that journalists could have behaved in such a disgraceful and dishonest manner, but their bosses must have been pleased. Their propaganda was hugely successful, and many Serbs started to believe that their Bosniak and Croat neighbours really wanted to kill them. The newsreader on the radio had said that the Bosniak doctors gave intentionally gave the wrong medicine to the Serb patients, and that they killed the newborn Serb babies. And people believed what they had heard were hearing because they had believed had been programmed to trust/believe the radio and newspapers since the Communists came to power, after the end of the Second World War. For the majority, it was always easier to swallow all the lies than use their own mind rational judgement to search for the truth.

    I felt it was only a matter of time before we suffered the same fate as the surrounding villages. The Serb authorities would find a reason to get rid of us soon. They had been were in a hurry to implement execute their plan of ethnic cleansing before the world reacted. Unfortunately, I did not need to wait long. At the dawn on 30 May, of 30th May, I jumped out of (my) bed; awakened by explosions and heavy gunfire from the town centre. Father switched the radio on, and we heard a hectoring voice telling us that the Bosniak Green Berets had attacked the town. But the newsreader assured us that they would be defeated by the brave Serb soldiers. He went on to call all the Serbs to arms and to the defence of their homeland and religion. He was ecstatic and spoke for hours. His text must have been prepared months in advance, and now the time had come to incite the Serbs to more hatred and violence.
    TO BE CONTINUED
    .

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    #3

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    teechar,

    You are a true good Samaritan. I am so grateful for your help

    There is only one preposition, which you have added in your correction of my sentence, and which changes the meaning of my sentence.
    My version: I thought of women and children huddled in the cellars and the groves of oak and beech trees.
    Your version: I thought of women and children, huddled in their cellars, and of the groves of oak and beech trees.

    Maybe I should have added the preposition "in" to make my sentence clear. Like "...huddled in the cellars and in the groves of oak and beech trees.
    I am wondering if I need a comma after the word cellars.

    I wish you all the best in the New Year.

  2. teechar's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Yes, add "in":
    I thought of women and children huddled in cellars and in groves of oak and beech trees.
    Happy New Year, Bassim.

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    #5

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Teechar - I have some questions:

    1. Para 1 - Should there be a "the" before "so-called "volunteers""?

    2. Para 4 - I listen to ("the"?) local radio.

    3. because they had believed had been programmed to trust/believe the radio and newspapers since the Communists came to power

    How about they had been "brainwashed"?
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Say:
    .
    One day the local government requested that all the weapons of the Territorial Defence be turned in to the military.

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    #7

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Please note that the phrase is "bearded men".

  5. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Say:

    But in the end sanity prevailed, and all the weapons which people in my neighborhood kept in their homes were dutifully turned in to the military.

    (The barracks is where the soldiers stay when they're not on maneuvers or whatever.)

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    #9

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Say:

    The Serb army surrounded the villages and shelled them with artillery rounds. I stood on my balcony and heard shells whistling above my head, and I was furious.

  7. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: The Last Lesson, part three

    Say:

    When after a few hours the shelling stopped, the bearded men dressed in black....

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