People of the Book

From Geraldine Brooks's People of the Book (Viking, 2008).  Book conservator Hanna Heath is leaving the hospital room where Ozren Karaman, head of the museum library in Sarajevo, visits his young son.

"I pushed past him on the way to the door, and saw that he had a kids' book, in Bosnian, in his hands.  From the familiar illustrations, I could tell it was a translation of Winnie-the-Pooh.  He put the book down and rubbed his palms over his face.  He looked up at me, his expression drained.  "I read to him.  Every day.  It is not possible for a childhood to pass by without these stories."  He turned to a page he'd bookmarked.  I had my hand on the door, but the sound of his voice held me.  Every now and then, he'd look up and talk to Alia [his son].  Maybe he was explaining the meaning of a hard word, or sharing some fine point of Milne's English humor.  I'd never seen anything so tender between a father and his child."  (38)

I get the impression that, for Ozren, neither is it possible for fatherhood to pass by without those stories.