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"A Successful Life"
Writing Competition Finalist
Spring Comes To Bosnia
by Arnold Miedema
365 words

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Spring Comes To Bosnia

He was one of the United Nation’s peacekeeping officers taken hostage in Bosnia.  Every day he was handcuffed to the park railing and guarded by masked gunmen who patrolled the area.  Every day he wondered what the hell he was doing here when he could be back home playing Rugby, or running along some beach with his dog.

The objective in the beginning was clear enough - to patrol the area while the leaders negotiated for peace. The trouble was that some of the leaders were dangerous psychopaths without morality, mercy or honour.  Hospitals were bombed and ceasefire treaties ignored the next day.  It was all a depressing waste of lives.  He’d be kissing this tragic, fouled-up country goodbye, as soon as he could.

Every day, too, the children looked across at him on their way to school.   Some hopped along on crutches, some had bandages around their heads and some had arms in slings.

Today a blonde girl about ten, with bowed, stick legs, crossed the road.  In her hand was a red apple.  Without a word she stopped in front of him and held it out.  Without fear or hate her pale, blue eyes looked directly into his face.  Why, he couldn’t take her apple.  Where did she get such a prize?  And yet she wanted him to have the apple.  It was her gesture and he must not deny her this.  With handcuffed hands he took a bite of the apple and handed it back.  He bowed and wished he knew her word for thank you.

The guard’s voice was sharp and threatening as he rounded the corner.  The girl, still clutching the apple, dodged a passing tank as she ran across the road to her waiting friends.  The soldier watched her until she was out of sight, hoping she might look back or even wave, but she just continued walking behind her friends, head bowed as she munched the apple.  Her face was stern with thought.

In the park, the sparrows were building their nests and the leaves of the plane trees were breaking forth.

The soldier knew now why he was in Bosnia, and why he would volunteer to stay.

The Writer - Arnold Miedema (biography - 255 words)

If I shut my eyes I can see a boney-kneed boy sitting in the corner of the kitchen with his dog and listening to the Sunday night sing-songs, which were the main entertainment in Wellington, New Zealand during the early 1930’s.  They were “cheer up” songs like “Walk on the ‘Sunny Side of the Street’, ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby’.  During the depression most people were poor but were happy because they had they company of others.

My parents died when I was at school and the local Rugby coach was like a father to me.

After hitchhiking and working around most of Australia I worked my way to Europe as a kitchen hand.  Luckily I was not seasick while filling the plates.

The war was over in 1945 when I landed in the East End of London where those quick-witted Cockney’s made their home my home.  They had just lived through the blitz and many died or were crippled.  They had a plaque which read.

“Life Ain’t All You Want But It’s All You Got So Stick A Geranium In Your Hat And Be Happy”

After a two year period in the nickel Mines in Ontario, Canada, I returned to Sydney were I married an English girl and took a horticulture course.  Our two daughters have two daughters and two boys.

Mostly, from my travels around the world, I remember the kindness and comradeship of people I met, particularly when we cracked silly jokes when we were afraid in the mines.

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Reviews (applause received)    Applaud with your positive comments by clicking here

Lisa   Canada
"Most inspiring. My husband and several of our friends were peace keepers in Bosnia.
Few understand what they did and why they did it... you seem to. Thank-you."

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