Thursday, June 2, 2011
"K" by Haruki Murakami
K… the 11th letter of the alphabet.
(Example: One morning, K woke up to find he had transformed into a doormat.)
One morning, K woke up to find he had transformed into a doormat.
"Well that's just great," K thought to himself. "Of all things, a doormat!"
The first person to find K the doormat was a friend who worked for the local government. "Hey, quit fooling around," he said. "You practicing for some sort of New Year's party entertainment or something?"
"Nope, this seriously happened," K said.
"Huh, well I guess you're okay like that… incidentally, did you do your transformation registration?
"The rates for your income tax are going to change now. For doormat transformations, it‘s just short of a 10 percent deduction."
"No way," K said.
"Really. It's too bad—if you were an iron it would've only been about 3 percent."
The next person to find K was a friend who was a literary critic.
”It would seem, at first glance, that you are a doormat," he said.
"100% a doormat," K said.
"Can you prove it?"
"Wipe your feet on me."
The friend wiped his feet. And then he knew that K was truly a doormat. "And again—why a doormat?"
"It's not my fault."
"It's not my fault?" he repeated. "That sort of remark is less Kafka and rather more Camus, don't you think?"
The next person to come see K was his girlfriend who worked in publishing. She tripped on K the doormat and hit her head on the mailbox.
"Oops, sorry. I was up all night chasing Harahashi around, and then out of nowhere he tells me to replace the table of contents, which was just… Hey, by the way, why did you turn into a doormat?"
"Escapism," K said.
"Poor thing," she said. "Is there anything I can do for you? Like I kiss you and you turn back into a human?"
"That kind of thinking ended in the 19th century," K said. "But I'd be very grateful if you could place me at the entrance of a girl's dormitory or something."
"No problem. That's all well and good, but the way you are now, you don't need your cassette player anymore right? Sooo—could I have it?"
"And you don't need your Boz Scaggs and Paul Davis records either right?
"I also really like that groovy Hawaiian shirt of yours."
"It's all yours."
"And can I borrow your car?"
"Just be sure to change the oil every now and then. And check the clutch for me. It's making a weird noise."
"You got it."
So K lived happily ever after at the entrance to a girl's dormitory, without any local government officials, literary critics, or publishers to bother him. So if you really think about it, being a doormat wouldn't be so bad, would it?
[From the collaborative collection 夢で会いましょう , 1986, Kodansha.]