Another simple, beautiful story from my favourite author Haruki Murakami, it tells of a college student "K" who is in love with his junior Sumire, an aspiring writer and erratic character who dresses in an oversized herringbone coat and mistmatched socks with heavy boots.
Unfortunately, the love is largely unrequited- she in turn is in love with an older woman Miu, a sophisticated married lady with a strange life encounter that left her with a stunning mane of white hair.
It is a classic on the power and pain of love and loss, a dichotomoy of selves. Here are some quotes I enjoyed.
Miu, when Sumire tried to seduce her in bed-
"And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happen to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing."
Sumire, on how she lost herself after Miu appeared in her life-
"What happened after I met Miu was, I stopped thinking. Miu and I were always together, two interlocking spoons, and with her I was swept away somewhere- someplace I couldn't fathom... No matter how tall the grass got, I couldn't be bothered. I sprawled on my back, gazing up at the sky, watching the billowing clouds drift by... And after a time I couldn't have cared less about the difference between what I knew and what I didn't know."
K, when Sumire mysteriously disappears-
"So that's how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that's stolen from us- that's snatched right from our hands- even if we are completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to our alloted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness."