I love stories.
No, it isn't doubling up since I already used "books" since books are an excellent source for stories. What I mean is that I love hearing about other people lives, and the events and moments that touched them and and made them who they are. My extended family on my dad's side are great story-tellers. I remember sitting in my grandmother's always crowded and frequently too-hot living room on Sunday nights, listening to my uncles tell stories and laughing until the tears ran down my cheeks at the best.
But mostly I love stories that demonstrate the power of the human spirit. I want to share one of these today. It comes from Madeline Albright's memoir, and is one of her few shared stories that is just about regular people. Try not to get lost in the details--I read all of the chapters preceding this story and the politics are still hard to grasp--and just concentrate on Fadil Fejzic's generosity.
"On New Year's Day, 1996 . . . I came across a story . . . that illustrated much of what our efforts had been about. It was an illustration of what I call 'the Bosnia idea,' the simple premise that every person has value and that neighbor must look upon neighbor not as Serb, Croat and Muslim, but as one individual to another."
"It told of a Bosniak farmer named Fadil Fejzic, who lived in a the mostly Muslim town of Gorazde during the years it was under siege, and a Serb family, Mr. and Mrs. Drago Sorak, who also lived in Gorazde and refused for a long time to leave despite the heightening tensions.
"In June 1992, Muslim police had taken the Soraks' eldest son, Zoran, who never returned. . . Not long after, Zoran's widow gave birth to a girl, but food was scarce and the mother unable to nurse. The family gave the child tea, but it was clear the infant would soon die. It happened that Mr. Fejzic owned a . . . cow, which he kept outside of town to avoid Serb snipers.
"On the fifth day after the Sorak child's birth, the family heard footsteps on the stairs. A half liter of milk was handed up to their small apartment by a man they barely knew. On the sixth day the same thing happened and on the seventh, and so on for 442 consecutive days, until the Soraks left for Serbia. Notwithstanding cold and snow and shortages of food, Mr. Fejzic never missed a day and never accepted anything in return. When the war ended, the Times reporter found Fejzic huddled in a room with other Bosniak refugees, his home destroyed and cow long since dead. Told by his visitor that he had seen Mr. and Mrs. Sorak, Fejzic's eyes brightened. 'And the baby?' he asked. 'How is she?'