Franz Kafka, the Czech author, who had never married and had no children, was walking in Steglitz City Park in Berlin when he saw a little girl crying because she had lost her doll. Kafka himself was unwell and was on a short trip to the city, however he joined her in search for the doll.
When search proved futile and girl’s grief at her loss did not abate, Kafka told her to meet him there again the next day and they will continue the search.
The little girl was touched by this mysterious strangers’ kindness. Little did she know that all his life Kafka had suffered from clinical depression himself and at forty now, was fatigued out from tuberculosis.
Next day, when they had still not found the missing doll, Kafka told her that the doll had gone on a trip.
“How do you know that”. The little girl asked him, suspicious, unsure.
“Well, because she has written a letter to me”.
“Do you have it on you now”. The little one was intrigued.
“No Sorry I forgot it at home but if you meet me here again tomorrow I will get it for you”, the frail author reassured her.
Next day, as the girl was still too young to read, Kafka read the dolls letter aloud for her:
“Please don’t cry for me” The note opened “I had grown tired of staying in the same place and interacting with same people all the time. It is not that I don’t love you but I do need an adventure. I want to have new experiences, meet new people and see this world. However I promise, I will write to you about my experiences.”
Now knowing that her doll was not only safe but actually enjoying life, the little one felt better. She however wondered what clothes the doll would have taken with her for the journey. The doll was quite careless of her appearance, she told the writer, and that she had to be pushed into changing her dresses.
Over next 12 days, every day, Kafka bought a letter to the park, written by the doll.
These letters talked about the doll having grown up, gone to school and was meeting other people. She always reassured the little girl of her love, but made reference to complications of her life, her other obligations and interests that prevented her from returning to their shared life right now. She asked the girl to understand her situation and say prayers for her.
The day 13 letter though was different. It announced that the doll was finally returning home.
As a parting gift on their last meeting, Kafka gave young girl the doll he had bought for her.
“It doesn’t look like my doll at all,” exclaimed the girl, taken aback.
Kafka then read her another letter in which the doll had written: “My travels have changed me. Hope you will accept the new me”.
The little girl bear hugged her doll and started crying.
She begged her doll for forgiveness and happily took her back home.
Within a year, Kafka died.
Many years later, the now-adult girl, found a letter signed by Kafka, hidden deep inside a crevice of the doll. It read:
“Everything that you love you will lose, but in the end, love will always return to you in a different form.”