My dearest friend is J. I won’t mince my words, I’ll cut straight to the chase: I suspect that J keeps me alive. We have known each other for three years. That may not sound like long but it’s an aeon to my mind (we enter the realm of geological time when I think about how long I’ve known B and H).

J lives just up the road from me. She works at home as a translator. She interprets when there is demand for it (it pays much better). J is complex. Especially when it comes to relationships. She often dreams cripplingly sad dreams about love. But gets an allergic reaction at the sight of a couple walking along in silence by the river.

J knows me better than anyone. This is partly because we spend so much time together. She has seen me in every possible state of mind and nuance of light. I know my words will never amount to anything but I recently gave her the right to them. Because I trust her wholeheartedly.

Every day at 1:00 pm we go for a walk. We walk fast. We walk for around 7 or 8 kilometres. Sometimes we talk (food, news, TV shows). Sometimes we don’t talk (heavy breathing, heavy sighs). She tells me our walks are one of the highlights of her day. J is becoming increasingly sad. Not moribundly sad like me but hard-to-breathe sad. This worries me.

I wouldn’t want to live in a world without elephants, sloths, Kafka and J. She is kindness itself. Without any of the sticky, drippy egoism usually attached to kindness. I try my best not to romanticize or idealize her because I have made that mistake before. So I negate her in the middle of a dark night. I wake up all groggy and groany and lay into her as a frighteningly intimate extension of myself. But she has survived my most rigorous of negations and savage of character assassinations.

It is possible I would even give my life for her. Because she is more deserving of life. J represents light and hope for me. No, really. She reminds me of what life felt like when we kids gleefully spent the night over at a friend’s place. In a word, she embodies a goodness that I have rarely encountered in this world.

J is no angel (needless to say). I adore her sense of humour but it is so dark sometimes it can shock me. Her intelligence is considerably above average but she is lazy when it comes to improving on it. She can be bitchy, even cruel. She can be too lenient on people (myself included). Like most people of her age (I think she qualifies as a millennial), she would rather watch videos of cute cats than read yet another book or article about why the world is so maddeningly unjust. When I rant against the world (especially at the price of food during our weekly visits to the supermarkets), she shrugs and says uh-huh with a hurt air of helplessness.

It is hard to portray anyone accurately and I am not doing a very good job of it. So I will just say that J keeps me alive purely on the hope she provides. The hope that there are more people like her out there. The hope that she will not suffer too much in this life. The hope that she might even find someone she would want to be with beyond her characteristic three-year rotations. The hope that she will keep on smiling with that fucking heartbreakingly lovely flash of a smile of hers.

This world can go to hell for all I care. I believe we get what we deserve: politically, socially, culturally, individually. But J is not like me. She is the most forgiving and understanding person I know. She sees us as victims of our natures, of nature. J is judicious that way: J is for justice.

A few years ago, J’s kept mysteriously appearing in various emails and text messages that I received. It took me a while to figure out that they were supposed to represent a smiley face. That’s dumb, I thought. I take my letters very seriously indeed. Hence, my beloved B, my habitudinal H. When I discovered that Roberto Calasso had written a book about Kafka called “K”, I was ecstatic at the perfection of it.

For me, the letters are set in stone (and the story set accordingly): A is for Apocalypse, B is for Butt, J is for Joy. All the way to the end…











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