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I still have items loaned to me by a friend who died

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male public employee in my 20s. A friend of mine suddenly died this summer, and I have no idea what to do about the books and DVDs I borrowed from him.

I became acquainted with him when I was in university via a social networking site for fans of a particular novelist. We used to go out together and have a good time. We borrowed not only novels but also manga and CDs from each other. I even talked about my personal problems and asked for his opinion, and so did he.

However, I suddenly lost contact with him. A while later, his mother informed me via a mutual friend that he had died the other day and asked me to leave her alone.

I wanted to be with him more. I’m sorry I can’t visit his home to offer incense to his soul. Above all, I’m concerned about the things I borrowed from him.

I can’t decide whether I should keep them. I don’t feel like selling them. As I now have no energy to read over again any of the books he recommended to me, I’ve just stacked them in a corner of my bookshelf.

F, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Mr. F:

Would you dare to step over a book on the floor? Some people can, but book lovers certainly hesitate to do so.

Books are only objects, but I somehow feel they have souls of their own. CDs and DVDs are the same. So you need to have your own reasons to get rid of the items on your bookshelf.

For example, you could sell these books to a secondhand bookstore where they could attract new readers. I may sound as if I’m glossing over this matter, but we are all truly thankful for any book or music that entertains us, even for a moment. I have unexpectedly come upon worthwhile books at secondhand bookstores and was transported to new worlds.

Your late friend’s books in a corner of your bookshelf probably have a presence much stronger than anything else in your room. I understand why you hesitate to get rid of them, because they are reminders of your friendship with him. I suggest you first contact his family. If they don’t want you to return them, then put them back on the market while extending your condolences to him.

Even after these books and DVDs have left you, they may come into someone else’s hands if sold in the marketplace. I believe this can serve as a prayer for the repose of his soul.

Although he is dead, his favorite books and music will remain alive. In principle, this is the way I believe human culture is handed down.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(from Oct. 23, 2016, issue)Speech

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