My dinner with Kafka
by Christos Polydorou
Franz Kafka was such a striking looking person. And a completely unique author. I cannot wait to work with him.
I write a letter to Franz Kafka. I address it to hell, as a joke, although we both know that having done what he has done has shown us hell, as a path to heaven, and not the other way around. Franz Kafka agrees to work with me, but just for an hour. We can write something together, brief, but, he promises, it will be substantial.
Getting what you wish for
What on earth do I serve Franz Kafka?
I decide to serve Franz Kafka, nothing German, nothing Jewish, no, I decide to serve him treats from my own country, Cyprus. This decision works. Franz Kafka is impressed with my copper jizve, on which I prepare Turkish coffee, he is pleased with the slices of halloumi I serve with toothpicks, with black olives, and slices of heritage tomatoes. He swoons in a reserved way, as I serve him bowls of home made tahini sauce, and taramasalata, and tzatziki, served with hot pitta bread, and he politely yet absolutely devours all the little bowls of butter beans, pork and lamb souvlaki, that I grilled, the salad with feta that I chopped up, not to mention the honey drizzled baklava, which causes him to shake his head in amusement. I smile, so proud of my own heritage, so in love with my own island, it does not matter that I do not live there anymore, it is in me, and I take it everywhere with me, this playfulness, this jostling, this borderline brusqueness, that is so well intended, it could not be anything but brusqueness, what it means, to me, Christos, to be a Greek-Cypriot, to have to explain to people where Cyprus is, on a daily basis, I don’t mind, geography was not one of my strongest points, anyway, my notion of time and space is governed by things that are not always visible. Thank you for coming, Franz Kafka. Thank you for enjoying all of my food. It means the world to me to have watched you eat, and later, when you are gone, I will clean up after you, and I will cry, I am not ashamed to say it, but I will cry, at the impenetrability of the truth that I will never get to see you again.
What actually happened
Franz Kafka and I met at a mid-point between where he is and where I am. This occurs when a reader reads a book by an author, as I was reading The Burrow, a collection of short stories, by Franz Kafka, on the bus home tonight. An unquantifiable, unclassifiable talent, a genius beyond genius, in a room of his own.
Let’s visit him, and others, more often.