Twenty years ago, a young professor of literature and his wife left an uncertain life in Kosovo for a better one in America. That man was my father, and from the day he stepped on U.S. soil, my father has taken on a dual identity. He was at once the family man who worked long hours as a waiter to support his family, but he was also was the stubborn scholar, who felt in his heart an impulse to create, and which kept him up late at night, typing away at his manuscript. What made him write every day was the “Mountain Wreath,” the Montenegrin epic composed by the Bishop-Prince P. P. Njegoš. Originally, this book was a gift that my mother gave my father on their one-month anniversary—half in love, half in jest. She knew that he had read the book in his youth, as many Yugoslavians were required to, and that he had hated it, but she still said to him, “this time you will forget that you hate it, and love it, because your wife gave it you as a gift.” With that odd logic born from love, it followed that my father actually started to like the book. The “Mountain Wreath,” —small, red, leather-bound—now stands at the corner of my father’s library. From the outside, it looks brand-new and unused; this is an illusion, however. My father tells me that he loves this book because, as he writes by himself in his room, he remembers the thoughtful gift that his wife gave him, and this brings him back to the early love that they both shared.
– Taulant Kastrati