Student or Learner
Would you please correct my mistakes in the seventh part of my short story?
Some of the guards came inside and searched for their acquaintances and former colleagues. They gave them cigarettes and offered to pass on messages to their families. They told prisoners not to worry and be patient. It was encouraging to see the Serbs who still cared for their Bosniak and Croat friends despite the propaganda of hatred.
I spent the night lying on my sheet of cardboard and unable to sleep. I closed my eyes hoping to rest my mind, but sleep evaded me. People around me slept soundly, and some even snored, but the jumble of thoughts kept me awake. All that had been happening lately felt unreal, as if another reality had shoved aside the old one, and now it forced its sickening logic on everything and everybody. In this new world, ethics, humanity and social values, which humans had slowly built for thousands of years, had stopped to exist. What counted the most was your national purity. Your intelligence, knowledge, character and skills had become irrelevant. It was your chauvinism and the will to fight for it and even to commit crimes against humanity that would be extolled end encouraged. I was a stranger in that world, and I was angry that although I had not voted at the latest election and never liked politics, I had become a victim of nationalistic madness.
Early in the morning, a silver metallic BMW halted with a screech in front of the main gate. Three men in red berets jumped out of it and strode towards the hall. The man in the middle wore some kind of a black dress uniform with shiny buttons, and a narrow red stripe on each trouser leg. A large sword was hanging from his belt. He held a baseball bat in his hands covered with black fingerless gloves. His two companions wore combat uniforms and carried an AK-47 each. “It is Zoran,” Omar whispered to me. “I know him well. He was a taxi driver before the war.” As soon as they entered the hall, Zoran swore loudly and swung his baseball bat at the sitting and lying prisoners, and hit them hard. They instinctively raised their hands to protect their bodies, which seemed to have enraged him even more. He used his bat with a great skill, and he knew where to hit prisoners to cause them most pain. Their howls and groans made me wince and twitch. Suddenly, he stopped and stared at the young man whose face was turning ashen.
“Stand up!” he shouted. The young man got up, shaking.
“What’s your name?”
“Samir,” the young man stuttered and winced.
“Bloody name!” Zoran shouted. “Who gave you that name?”
“Father,” the young man said gulping.
“The son of a dog!” Zoran raised his bat to hit the young man, but for some reason changed his mind. “Sit down and don’t raise your ugly head!”
The young man slumped onto his sheet of cardboard, still trembling.
Zoran turned around, and I saw his dark piercing eyes – the eyes of a madman full of hatred. He paced the hall glowering at prisoners’ faces, looking for someone to vent his anger on.
“Stand up!” he bellowed at Enver, a greengrocer who used to sell his products at the market. “Why did you sell grenades at the market?”
“I sell fruit and vegetables. I’ve never sold weapons.”
“I saw you with my own eyes selling grenades. Tell me the names!”
Enver shook his head and spread out his arms in a gesture of helplessness. In the next moment, a hail of blows made him scream with pain. Zoran’s hand moved fast, the bat hitting Enver’s body from all directions. He tried to protect his face, but the bat landed on his kidneys, which made him double in pain. The beating went on for a few minutes, and stopped when Zoran huffed and puffed and wiped the sweat running down his face. He turned away from bleeding Enver without giving him a second glance, and he pranced around, tapping his bat against his palm. Before he left, he stood with his legs wide apart and shouted. “I’ll be back in the evening!” Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, but soon we heard cries from the adjacent hall where people from the villages which had fought against the Serb army had been imprisoned. Zoran’s voice boomed as he promised he would make them pay for what they had done. Suddenly, a burst of machine-gun fire ripped through the hall, and the bullets ricocheted off the walls. A raucous laugh broke the silence, and then I heard his voice, “I’ll be back in the evening. We’ll have some fun.”
I watched them as they walked down the concrete courtyard towards the main gate – harbingers of death. They climbed into the car and drove off at speed, but Zoran’s face was still in my eyes, and his voice in my ears. I sensed he had already killed many people and tortured them to death. There was not a trace of mercy on his angular face and in his dark eyes. This morning I saw pure evil, and I trembled at the thought of having to see it again.
I sat on my sheet of cardboard the whole day, unable to think of anything other than Zoran and his companions. I heard people around me discussing the possibility that the West might save us and stop the genocide of innocent people, and I wished to tell them that nobody was going to help us. Our country was insignificant in the eyes of great powers, which did not see us as equal human beings. They would let us exterminate each other, and then intervene out of their own interest. But my neighbours had been naive and did not want to see the signs of the coming disaster. The word ethnic cleansing was still not in use, and people did not want to contemplate the idea of abandoning everything and running away. The majority of them had grown up in socialism, and they probably still believed in the idea of brotherhood and unity, which the communists had preached constantly for almost half a century.
TO BE CONTINUED
Last edited by Bassim; 13-Jan-2016 at 08:13.