In Other Words


‘Books’ — for Book Day, 2010

Books can fuse with trauma, at least in my experience.

When I was about six years old, the occupying Dutch army arrested my father and ransacked our house. That day, after they had bound my father’s hands and put him on a truck, our family sat terrified. I still remember one thing clearly: two soldiers took some books from my father’s study and threw them down the well.

I did not know what books they threw, or why. The only thing important to me was this: a soldier broke my wooden toy gun and threw that down the well too.

Books and a toy gun: signs of enmity? Decades later, my older brother who had been close to my father (I was not so close to him), remembered that in my father’s study there was a book with a picture of Karl Marx on the cover. Probably it was such a tome that had to be eliminated. And guns – real or not.