2000 words | By: Ryszard Krasowski | | Category: Short Story - Life Bookmark and Share

2000 words

Very often, sitting in front of my computer, I ask myself: Why do I write these little awkward stories? Who is going to read them? Do I make fun of myself? Why do I write them in a language that I don't know well? I remember reading something about Chinese language and what I found out was that if someone in China knew 2000 "bushes" (this is my description of Chinese letters-words), he or she was considered to be an intelligent person.

I don't know how many English words I know, I have never counted them, but if I know less than 2000, I could be dumb. Once I had a tutor and I wanted to impress her with my vocabulary but after my show off she quit teaching me. It appeared that probably I knew 2001 words and she probably felt intimidated with her 2000 English words. So maybe I am an intelligent individual after all.

I didn't write stories in my native language. It never occurred to me that I would be able to do so, but I remember writing at school on a subject I didn't know too much about. My teacher looked with a surprise painted on her face at the amount of words I had used to describe a simple matter and said: "You have written a lot! But this is not a subject I had asked you to write about". I didn't receive a high mark for that "story". Another time another teacher wanted to check my knowledge about the gun's parts and because I wasn't quite sure I knew the answer I was talking about the parts of a shell.

"You are not giving me the right answer," he interrupted my stream of words.

"Oh, I am sorry," I said and I started to talk again about the shell. While I was talking my eyes were glued to his face and it was showing a sign of impatience.

"I asked you about a gun not a shell," he interrupted me for the second time.

"Yeah, I know, but I am talking about a weapon," I said.

"You know what?" he said. "You don't know the answer to my question so I presume you didn't prepare yourself for this lesson. Sit down. But because you showed me some intelligence I am going to give you C minus."

When I came to this country my head was full of thoughts and ideas and I wanted to share them with anybody who was willing to listen to me. At the beginning it was difficult to do so because my vocabulary wasn't as "rich" as it is now; I didn't cross the barrier of 2000 words back then. What's more, it seemed that people weren't interested in hearing what I wanted to say. But I was determined to find a way to make them to listen to me. I had to be heard because there were a lot of things that people here were taking for granted without noticing what a foreigner would see and feel. How many of them really knew how it was to go to another country and start their life from the scratch? Did they see themselves in this kind of situation and what would they do, how would they behave?

Sometimes people lose almost everything in a course of unexpected events in life: fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods... But they are at home. They have family, friends, acquaintances...

At some point in my life I was sucked up by some kind of a twister and thrown on a ground far away from the place where I used to live. The only things that I was able to grab with me for that unexpected journey were two suitcases filled up with my personal belongings and two hundred and fifty dollars in my wallet.

The adventure of another "Robinson Crusoe" began. I think that almost everybody read Daniel Defoe's book; I read it a few times. It was so interesting that I didn't even have time to eat properly. And when I finished reading it for the first time I started to read it again.

Although I don't claim to be Daniel Defoe I thought that it would be interesting to write about my meeting with a big unknown. I thought that people, if they don't want to listen to me, would find a few minutes to read about my adventures in a jungle of new life.

Finding someone in a world of publishing who would be interested in running my stories wasn't an easy task but after a few attempts I was able to convince one of the local papers to give me a chance. After all I was proving to the world that persistence pays off.

Once when I was watching TV and I heard Tom Brokaw talking about education in this country. It was shocking to me to find out that there were 30 million illiterate people in America. When I was leaving Poland the population of my country was more or less 30 million. Even if I closed my eyes I couldn't imagine that anybody in my country wasn't able to read and write.

That number was overwhelming and it gave me one more reason to get a pen and write. Of course I make mistakes, who doesn't. But I am learning, what I keep repeating in my stories. I am learning not only how to express my thoughts in English language but also how to live in a country where this language is spoken. So everything is English to me now.

Thanks to websites like this one I am heard. I found friends who "listen" to me, give me advice, encourage and ask questions. They are like teachers to me and I hope that at last I am REALLY talking about something I know. And I hope that after using 1006 words to write this story they will give me at least C plus.

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