“What do you think? I’m not a starfish or a pepper tree. I’m a living, breathing human being. Of course I’ve been in love.” – Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
I adore Haruki Murakami and his books. Since I have read almost all of them (all of the ones which I was able to find), I discovered that there is a certain concept that he keeps playing around with.
In almost all of his stories, the people are just ordinary people, as grey and boring as possible, and still he manages to describe their inner life as full of extraordinary emotions and terrible depths. They have one thing in common: all of them have been in love. They held the liquid of love in their hands only to realize that it is more liquid than solid and to watch helplessly how it slip back to the ground from which it came.
“They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others,” Murakami wrote in his fairy tale On Seeing the 100 Percent Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning. ”But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100 percent perfect boy and the 100 percent perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.” But can the miraculous really be attained so easily? No sooner have they found each other than the doubtful couple decide, by fairy-tale stricture, to put their love to the test. They make a fatal pact to separate, certain that if they really are perfect for each other, their paths will cross again. The years slip by, and it’s not until they’ve reached their 30’s that one morning they accidentally meet each other on the street. By then it’s too late. With only ”the faintest gleam of their lost memories” in their hearts, they pass each other by and disappear into the crowd.
Another novel South of the Border, West of the Sun, also described a pair of lovers. This time, although they are too young to realize their fate, they never lose the image of each other. When they meet years later, we can observe an unbearable longing for the past combined with a painful inability to make it real again. When he decides, being 37 years old, that she was the one has truly loved all his life, she is already gone.
Murakami always presents the idea that there exists something like one, true love. That there are souls which are interconnected and meant to find each other and that if you have found your one true love and did not live it, it will leave a hole in your soul forever.
There are always other people. The characters have other relationships, get married, have kids, and they are just fine. However, once they stumble upon a forgotten wound in their hearts, it is almost impossible to carry on with their simple, comfortable life. They smash the door and run in pursuit of something greater, and not always do they win.
He describes different scenarios. Some of the characters have found their true love and lived it, but due to external circumstances something goes wrong, they suffer. Some of them have found it and lost it and never found it again remaining half-empty. Others have found it and lost it and then many years later they try to resuscitate it again, with results for better or for worse.
In the novel where the characters and incapable of bringing their love to life after all these years, Shimamoto explains to Hajime:
‘The sad truth is that certain types of things can’t go backward. Once they start going forward, no matter what you do, they can’t go back the way they were. If even one little thing goes awry, then that’s how it will stay forever.”
I would love to sit down with Haruki Murakami, upon a good cup of coffee, and ask him what is the connection between the idea of one true love and his own life? Is it a thing that he believes to be a universal truth or just a romantic concept suitable for writing purposes?
If you meet him, please ask and let me know. And for now, I go back to reading “After dark”.