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    #1

    Appendicitis, part three

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

    The year was 1990, and the drastic changes happened in the East, with the collapse of Communism and the spread of democracy. In our country, communists were also losing the ground, but instead of them, nationalists woke up out of their deep sleep. People like Ahmed, who were married to a person from another nation, suddenly found themselves in an awkward situation. With whom should their loyalty lie? Their spouses or their nations? Ahmed had two sons who would soon go to university, and worry gnawed at him about what the future would bring. He found it hard that he could not be with them at these troubled times. We spent hours discussing politics, and we agreed that if nationalism spread all over the country, we would have a war even worse than during the Second World War.
    On Monday, I had a successful surgery, and on the following day, before leaving the hospital, I talked with Ahmed one last time wishing him quick recovery. He held my hand for some time and looked me in the eye. ďI hope to see you soon in town. Your father, you and I are going to sit in a cafe and chat away just as we did before,Ē he said and put two oranges into my bag.

    Another year passed, and Ahmed was still in the hospital. Father visited him on a few occasions, without noticing any significant change. It seemed as if the wound had become part of his body just like bullets and shrapnel sometimes merge with trees on battlefields. Maybe he was doomed to stay in this symbiotic relationship for many years to come, as if the wound had decided to compete with his wife for his affection.
    I had almost forgotten him because the war was knocking at our door. Our town was close to the Croatian border, where the fighting between Serbs and Croats was in full swing. The constant barrage of artillery fire would go on from early in the morning and continue the whole day. A strange feeling crept over me. Just behind the hills, people were killing each other and destroying everything which they had built for decades while we went on with our daily chores as usual. The Serb volunteers from my town went to Croatia to fight, and some of them returned in coffins covered with the national flag. Their pictures would appear on the death certificates stuck on the walls and lampposts. But their deaths did not prevent others to leave their families behind and go to war.

    The summer was hot, and I used every opportunity to cycle to the river and find peace in my soul swimming in its clear green water and sprawling on its grassy bank. One day, as I was cycling along the road and was making the turn to the left to the path leading to the river, a car hit me from behind. Later, the police told me that the driver was a refugee fleeing with her family from Croatia. What irony, I laughed inside myself. The woman who was escaping death almost killed me probably because her mind was occupied with other matters than driving.
    I woke up in Accident and Emergency covered in blood, cuts and bruises, and then I was transported to the same ward I was admitted to the previous year. When my head stopped reeling, I knocked at the door of Ahmedís room. We both shouted with surprise and fell into each otherís embrace. He had not changed much since I saw him the last time, although his hair had become whiter and his face thinner. But his eyes still sparkled with life.
    We talked for a while, and then Mira arrived with her food and other presents, and she wanted me to taste her pastries. She seemed to have grown older than her years, her brown hair streaked with grey, her face etched with wrinkles. She had a tired look about her. Large rings of sweat formed under the armpits of her summer dress. The room smelled of flowers and warm food she had put on the table until the nurse came in to change the dressing on Ahmedís wound. I was chewing Miraís tasty pastry when the nurse took the dressing off, and the stench almost made me gag. I shifted my gaze to the ceiling, but my eyes fell on the liquid tar coming out of Ahmedís body. He talked on without batting an eye.

    I went to the toilet and saw there was neither liquid soap nor toilet paper as there had been the previous year. I bumped into a nurse in the corridor, and she told me the patients had to bring their own soap and toilet paper. The hospital lacked funds, and the staff still hadnít received last monthís pay. ďThey donít have money for the hospital, but they have money for the war,Ē she sighed and hurried down the corridor. Later, I heard from my fellow patents that the ward on the floor under ours was reserved for the wounded soldiers returning from the front line.
    The atmosphere in the hospital had changed since my last visit. As if the staff was feeling the inevitability of war. Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks still worked together in all institutions and companies, but the more time passed, the more people became suspicious of each other. They must have asked themselves what was going to happen once the conflict broke out and people started shooting. Would their colleagues turn against them and betray them? Would they manage to keep their job or lose it only because of their nationality? War was on everyoneís mind, even on the patientsí suffering from serious illnesses and injuries.

    Ahmed and I discussed the war in Croatia, and the possibility that soon we could see bombs and shells flying over our heads. Neither of us wanted to believe in such a doomsday scenario, although we knew a tiny spark could start the fire, which would be difficult to put out. Ahmed did not want to believe that people could be so forgetful and foolish. They had once slaughtered each other decades ago, and surely, they would not make the same mistakes again. People in Bosnia must be wiser than those in the neighbouring country who killed each because of the disputed land and borders. He did not even mention his wound anymore, as if it had become insignificant compared to the enormous gash which threatened to open and poison millions of people.
    I stayed in the hospital for the next two days and returned home wishing Ahmed recovery, although I doubted if I would ever see him healthy again. Dark circles around his eyes, his pessimism and the smell wafting out of the wound, did not bode well.

    I spent the summer swimming in the river for hours, as if I felt in my subconscious mind that the next year there would be no swimming at all. In the autumn Father and I distilled slivovitz from our plums, not knowing that was the last time we did it. A few days before New Yearís Day, Ahmed was discharged from the hospital. My father went to visit him and found him delirious. Surrounded by his family and neighbours, he seemed to have defeated the wound, although it oozed and smelled just as before. But Ahmed ignored it and wanted to return to his job and work at his lathe, which gave him a sense of fulfilment.
    After the New Yearís celebration was over, Ahmed died. My father went to his funeral, which was one of the largest our town had ever seen. Not only hundreds of Ahmedís colleagues from the construction company walked in the procession, but also hundreds of other people who wanted to honour and pay tribute to the man who spread so much joy and optimism around him.
    I would think of him about five months later when the war broke out, and we all ended up in numerous prison camps, in and around our town. Some of Ahmedís neighbours were shot in their homes, mowed down in the street, or tortured and killed in the most brutal way in prison camps. At least Ahmed was fortunate to die from his own wound, surrounded with love and caring of his family.
    THE END

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    First paragraph. First sentence. Say:

    The year was 1990, and drastic changes happened in the East...

    No "the" before "drastic changes" there.

    It must have been very different to live through those events rather than observe them from afar (as Americans did).

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    The term "ethnic cleansing" doesn't seem so bad until you realize it's genocide by another name. Also, "Nationalism reared its ugly head" is a sentence that has occurred to me. (I think you have already come close.)

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    #4

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    Tarheel,
    What happened in my country was a real tragedy because we were closer to the EU more than any other East European country. People from the East visited Yugoslavia and could not believe that we could buy almost all those things they saw in the West, and that we had such high standard of living compared to them. But the problem are ignorant people who do not want to hear the voice of reason. There are everywhere, even among highly educated people. And they cause enormous damages. I was watching what the masses did, how the war was inevitable, but I could not do anything. Ignorance is more dangerous than any weapon. And now more than 20 years later, those ignorant people asked themselves how stupid they could have been and voted for the nationalistic parties instead of choosing ordinary political parties. But now it is too late. You can imagine how I feel who have lost everything, and then when I came to Sweden I heard such insults I have never heard before, and the only reason is my dark hair. At least you live in your own homeland, and nobody can insult you, or call you all kinds of names.
    Last edited by Bassim; 02-May-2016 at 20:36.

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    Second sentence. Perhaps:

    In our country, the Communists were losing ground just like everywhere else in Eastern Europe. However, almost as if to take their place, nationalists arose from their deep slumber.

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    Bassim,
    Americans have often have had reason to be grateful that we are separated from the rest of the world by two oceans.

    As far as refugees are concerned, we would have hardly noticed 100,000 immigrants. And nobody stands out here because of appearances. But Sweden? What were they thinking?

    That is as deep as I should get into politics, I think.

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    #7

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    OK, we are still on the first paragraph. Say:

    He (Ahmed) found it hard (OR difficult) that he could not be with them (his sons) during these troubled times.

    I think "during" works better than "at" there.

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    #8

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    Tarheel,
    Regarding the refugees, in the US everyone who arrives as an immigrant or refugee sooner or later becomes American, but in Europe, you are still called immigrant even if you are born in the EU; you are the immigrant of the first, second or third generation. The main problem in the EU is that the governments of many countries tell welcome to refugees, but the natives are tired of immigration, and you can feel their animosity towards the refugees even if they are silent. Politicians and the establishment live without any contact with reality and their citizens. There will be conflicts between different groups and nations in the future, because this situation is untenable for many people.

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    #9

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    Say:

    I talked with Ahmed one last time, wishing him A quick recovery.

    Second paragraph. Say:

    I had almost forgotten him, because the war was at our door.

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    #10

    Re: Appendicitis, part three

    Bassim,
    You have been educating me. Most Americans are, I think, ignorant about the way things work in Europe. (To most Americans, Europe is a place where you go on vacation if you can afford it (London, Paris, or Rome).)

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