42 Days

By Hari Kunzru

What have I done in the last forty two days? I’ve flown to LA and back, held a baby, taken a boat across a bay, walked through a desert, eaten oysters. I’ve swum in three swimming pools and an ocean, stood on a roof and looked at the Manhattan skyline, pedalled my bike in the sunshine, been to parties and fashion shows and gallery openings and readings and lectures and concerts and lunches. I’ve made dates with friends to picnic in the park. I’ve stayed in bed on my own to watch tv. I’ve listened to a couple arguing beneath my window and heard a man playing alto saxophone on the subway. How many books have I read? How many times have I had sex? How many breaths, how many moments? How much life?


You can see that my forty two days are precious. You have only to look at how well I’ve spent them, all the good times I’ve had. My forty two days are certainly more precious than yours, because they belong to me. Losing them would make me angry. Yours are valuable too, I’m sure, but you have to remember there’s a principle at stake here. There are questions of security. There is, above all, the need for our leaders to appear tough. Never underestimate the vital national security importance of a tough appearance, leader-wise. Of course it must have been an inconvenience to you to lose so much time. It was a good party. Everyone was there. We went out to eat afterwards.


Look, at least we can agree on one thing: your forty two days are way more precious than hers. After all, we don’t know her. We have no idea how she spends her time. Personally, I didn’t like the look of her in that picture. Her face was so blank, so grainy and badly lit. She didn’t seem like a nice person. What would she have done with all that time, anyway? She probably would have wasted it.


And if we hadn’t locked her up? What then? It doesn’t bear thinking about. I want to enjoy many more days like the last forty two and I’m in support of any measure that helps me. I want to enjoy all my days as much as I possibly can, because that’s my right as a free person. No one’s going to take my freedom away from me, least of all some woman I’ve never met.