Student or Learner
Would you please correct my mistakes in the eleventh part of my short story?
As the time passed, and the Serbs understood Europe would not stop ethnic cleansing, they became more emboldened in their actions. The ordinary civilians and soldiers started to evict people from their own homes. They would knock at the door, aim the gun at the frightened owner, and tell him to leave. If the man or members of his family protested, a few blows would be enough to make them compliant. The family would abandon their home in tears, carrying just a few bags with their possessions. They would seek shelter with neighbours and relatives while the new owner would laugh behind their backs, hardly believing his luck.
One day, I saw an old Serb woman moving into the house of my neighbour who worked in Germany. I was shocked to see her leading a cow behind her. It was housed in his garage, where he used to park his Mercedes when he came here in the summers. The cow wandered the street and entered people’s porches and gardens at will. It grazed lawns, defecated and urinated, without anyone complaining, for who would have dared to complain against a cow called Jelena, who for the authorities was more worthy than any non-Serb.
Even my aunt Sabina had become the victim of the illegal eviction. One afternoon, she bolted into our house beside herself with distress. Her former workmate, Dana, had come to her flat, accompanied by a solder holding an AK-47. He swore and cursed at my aunt, and told her if she did not leave, he was going to kill her on the spot. Sabina was on the verge of breakdown. She stared at Dana in disbelief, her lips and chin trembling; she could not believe that the woman who had spent more than twenty years in the same factory together with her packaging biscuits day and night would be so malicious as to force her to leave her flat.
“Go away, you slut!” Dana shouted at her standing behind the soldier. “Our time has finally come, and you will all be expelled and never come back.”
My aunt could hardly speak through her rage and tears as she was describing those scary moments in her flat.“Dana and I were like sisters,” she said. “We drank coffee together hundreds of times. We talked, joked, and kept each other awake during the night shifts. I believed she was a good friend, but she stabbed me in the back.” Sabina put her head into her hands, and pulled them through her dishevelled brown hair. She nodded towards her green bag. “Look what I have after 35 years of hard work.” Father consoled her, telling her that after the war, she would certainly get her flat back, but my aunt seemed to be inconsolable. She cried and talked about her flat for weeks, as if someone had cut off part of her body. The similar heartbreaking scene must have been repeating all over the county, for evil knows no boundaries. The perpetrators were from all three nations, just as their victims.
Days passed in waiting and boredom. I used to read books before the war, and I was eager to learn something new, but this was not time for reading. The public library was closed indefinitely anyway, and it would be open probably only when the politicians had fulfilled their goals and got rid of “unwanted citizens.” After that, they would also get rid of “unwanted books” and buy the new ones, which would represent the ideas and values of the new society.
My neighbours would gather in the street or in someone’s garden and talk about our bleak future, although we all knew that any discussions were meaningless. Occasionally, a car with soldiers would passed by or pull up, and everyone would rush indoors, with his tail between his legs, shaking with fear and praying that his name was not on a death list. You went to bed in darkness, and you hoped to wake up alive. The nights were eerily silent, but if you heard a knock at your door, you were a doomed man. In the morning, I heard about families who had been murdered by marauding gangs of soldiers, who did what they wanted with their victims, and who would never face justice. I did not know if all those stories were true, but they had a traumatic effect on everyone. People lived in fear all the time, which was the goal of the Serb authorities. Fear and tension were straining their nerves, and they breathed a sigh of relief when the authorities had decided to allow them to leave in the organised convoys. Thus, ethnic cleansing had become a big business, in which authorities fleeced refugees off their last money before transporting them abroad.
TO BE CONTINUED