I know I have an enemy

‘Somewhere in the world I have an implacable enemy although I do not know his name. I do not know what he looks like either…

The fact that I know absolutely nothing about him makes life intolerable, for  I am obliged to look upon everybody with equal suspicion. There is literally not a soul whom I can trust. As the days go past I find that I am becoming more and more preoccupied with this wretched problem; indeed, it has become an obsession with me. Whenever I speak to anyone I catch myself scrutinizing him with secret attention, searching for some sign that would betray the traitor who is determined to ruin me. I cannot concentrate on my work because I am always debating in my mind the question of my enemy’s identity and the cause of his hate. What act of mine can possibly have given rise to such a relentless persecution? I go over and over my past life without finding any clue. But perhaps the situation has arisen through no fault of my own but merely on account of some fortuitous circumstances that I know nothing about. Perhaps I am the victim of some mysterious political, religious or financial machination – some vast and shadowy plot, whose ramifications are so obscure as to appear to the uninitiated to be quite outside reason, requiring, for instance, something as apparently senseless as the destruction of everybody with red hair or with a mole on his left leg.

Because of this persecution my private life is already practically in ruins. My friends and family are alienated, my creative work is at a standstill, my manner has become nervous, gloomy and irritable, I am unsure of myself, even my voice has grown hesitating and indistinct.

You would think that my enemy might take pity on me now; that, seeing the miserable plight to which he has reduced me, he would be content with his vengeance and leave me in peace. But no, I know perfectly well that he will never relent. He will never be satisfied until he has destroyed me utterly…

…I am only writing this down so that when you do not see me any more you will know that my enemy has finally triumphed.’

fragments of ‘The Enemy’ from ‘Asylum piece’ by Anna Kavan

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