Sunday, April 4, 2010

A SLOW, FRUITFUL SUNDAY AFTERNOON


My long weekend came to a sweet end.

For the past two months now, I had another bout of emptiness because of "the routine". I had no desire whatsoever to treat myself, let alone drag myself from such a terrible terrible rut. If I had to go into the details, let me tell you I was beyond disgusting. All it took for me to finally get up and do something was a long overdue cleaning of my apartment. After I was able to breath fresh sheets and fresh air again, my mind and body became alive like it had never been before. I planned to watch movies, read books and shop during my downtime. I'm so happy I was able to do them. It has become such a rare phenomenon for me these days. And typing these words at four in the morning is like icing on a cherry red cake. Thank you.

I did some thrift shopping today in Cubao. I bought myself two pairs of everything: two nice black bags, two pairs of pants, two pairs of shoes and two nice tops. I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm underscoring these purchases because for the longest time now I feel like treating myself is such a chore. Scouring the streets of Cubao before was one of my favorite leisures. But lately, I detested the heat, the smell and the process of working my way through the crowded city. I want sooo bad to inject some life into my "real life" by feeling good about how I look, how I present myself, thinking this would then translate to feeling good about what I do, what I think and who I am. Ahh the liberty I felt this afternoon, walking and taking my sweet time and returning home with real goodies. It was sooo refreshing. I hope this feeling lasts.

I forgot how hungry I was till I entered Gateway. Instead of finding myself something to eat, another wonderful thing happened. I don't usually enter boutiques if I know I won't buy something. I just don't feel comfortable doing that, unless I'm with someone. But today, I tested every goddamn bottle in The Body Shop and left with nothing but my white and red stripe plastic bag from Ukay. It's not that cool to lug around a horrendous looking market bag. I checked out Mango just for the heck of it (again with the bag, ohhh the horror). I have this habit of wanting to look cool. However, more often than not, I look anything but. I ended up scouring four more stores, which I don't usually enter if I'm alone, and left without buying anything. Let me tell you it feels great.

I went home and decided to waste my time in Starbucks. I hate hanging out there alone too because it gets too noisy sometimes (see, I'm really sick in the head). But this time I wanted a good coffee with my smokes, so I left the house again. I just love it when I leave home because I'm tired of being home. I brought with me Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart, which I began reading two weeks ago. After three cigs and an empty cup, I finally finished reading a book after a very Very VEry VERY long time.

There I was sitting comfortably with a despicable taste in my mouth and a slight headache, thinking what transpired this afternoon and why I felt sooo sad after reading Sputnik Sweetheart.

***

This novel has really struck a chord in me. This is the second book I've read of Murakami's works and all I can remember from the first one (Norwegian Wood) was this same feeling of wistfulness. You know how it feels when you realize that you were right all along, all this time. I initially thought it would be just a bittersweet tale of lesbian love. Yes it was that and an intellectual dose of Korean/Asian love triangles, existential dialogue, nothingness and really really creepy surreal moments.

It's a story of a girl named Sumire, who fell in love with an older sophisticated woman named Miu. On the other hand, Sumire's bestfriend, who happens to be the narrator of the story, is in love with her. K, as he was referred to in the book, is a grade school teacher, lives a normal, often boring life in Tokyo. Sumire has a bohemian soul who dreams of becoming a writer. At the turn of events she abandons her goal to become Miu's personal assistant. Together, they traveled to a Greek Island where the real story unfolds.

The story is captivating and confusing at the same time, but in a good way. I particularly love the character of the narrator. Murakami has a way of telling the depth of a character in ways that echo our own lives. K is a teacher. His love for Sumire is unrequited. He has girlfriends whose role is just to fill in the gaps of his physical longings rather than his emotions. He lives his life logically by working, eating, sleeping and waking up only to start the day in the same order. He doesn't do anything about his feelings for Sumire because she is in love with another person, let alone another woman, Miu. Miu, on the other hand, likes Sumire but does not return her love. It is a cycle of unrequited-ness. Until things are shaken up when Sumire disappears out of nowhere.

This unsettling turn of events becomes a dialogue of introspection. The novel goes on to uncover their pasts as an explanation of who they are and what have they become today. It's just that it's so hard to fathom a sudden disappearance such as this that you'll only believe it if the other events of the story are just as inexplicable. Actually Murakami thrives in these techniques, which is actually riveting for me. He has a way of making me feel and think and wonder why, why and why these things happened to the characters. In the end, there's a weaving of moments, subtle at first but definitely working its way to you. I can't explain it exactly but it just strikes you. That's the beauty of it.

The story of Miu was probably the most chilling part of the novel. She lived in a Swiss town fourteen years ago and met an elderly Spaniard by the name of Ferdinando. He keeps making moves to her but she feels polluted with his presence. One day, she rode a ferris wheel and got stuck in it after the whole carnival mysteriously closed for the day. She could see her apartment from where she was sitting in the ferris wheel. She saw that Ferdinando was in her apartment making love to Her, like a doppelganger of some sort. I just love how ridiculous and disturbing this scene is. She woke up the next day with hair so white she was never the same again.

I can go on forever here, but I'm just overwhelmed by the rush of emotions I felt after reading this. I've never given Murakami that much regard before because he became everyone's favorite. I thought he was another "well-known" writer who never really lived up to his own hype. But then again, it's all a matter of taste. And this goes without saying that I'm more than pleasantly surprised. Whatever the psychological, allegorical interpretation there is for this novel, what I've read has shook me in many a powerful moments. I have tons of questions still swirling in my head and I always like it when that happens.

I remember K's (narrator) words towards the end of the novel which resonates to me real hard, "I dream. Sometimes I think that's the only right thing to do. To dream, to live in the world of dreams- just as Sumire said. But it doesn't last forever. Wakefulness always comes to take me back." I think we have all felt this at one point or another. Perhaps I have in too many instances.

"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 out of our hands- even if we are left 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 the end of our allotted 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."

p.s. sorry i rambled on and on and on

3 comments:

toxic disco boy said...

talagang binasa ko siya noh. nobela much? haha. anyway, i always go ukay and i agree... when you think you look good... you feel good. hahaha.

i love murakami pero i only read one book. haha.

anyway, can't wait to see u at the beach.^^ more smoke and chika!

Dane said...

Ah Murakami. Genius. I am dyyying to ready that book.. if only we had a bookstore here!




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joy said...

congrats aqt least long entry..more pa gurl..mishu!mwah