Saturday, 7 May 2016

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

This brilliant novel by Murakami   is a coming –of –age story   of a Japanese boy Tsukuru  Tazaki . Within 7 days of its release , this book  sold over one million copies in Japan.I have no doubt that Murakami is a great writer , worthy of a Nobel Prize in literature.
                    The novel  is about a group of five boys and girls –  three boys Aka,Ao  and Tsukuru  and two girls ,Shiro,Kuro , all around 20 years of age.As   a sophomore in college ,Tsukuru’s four best friends  reject and banish  him completely .  The pain of having been so openly rejected always stays with him. Tsukuru overcomes his feelings of suicide , completes his engineering degree  course , and gets a good job  to make and maintain railway  stations.But he remains forlorn and lonely.
   Then comes a   young man called Haida , who becomes his friend. Haida  serves an important purpose , filling Tsukuru’s  post suicidal days with companionship  and shaking him out of his solitary, painful and   ,lonely life. Haida  is fond of listening to  Franz Listz,s  Years of Pilgrimage.  Though  Haida   has some role , the book has  devoted nearly 100 pages to him which seems  sheer redundancy.The obligatory magical stuff was  not really needed.There are several loose ends and some unexplained situations  about the story connected with Haida.

              Then , at the age of 36 years , Tsukuru falls in love with Sara Kimoto , who is  2 years older than him .He expresses love , she fondness. Sara realises that  what happened to Tsukuru    with his group ,was so traumatic that  it not only destroyed his vitality  but also his desire, his appetite , his longing.Sara says that “I think you are a good person , and I really like you .But I think you have-some kind of unresolved emotional issues.”A journey into the past is necessary to mend the present. Sara tells him “to keep going a little further, and I am sure you’ll discover the right pieces that fill the gaps”. At her instance , Tsukuru  undertakes the pilgrimage,  a necessary journey  to the source of an understanding of his current self.It helps him to understand his immediate past and  his present but also his future.Tsukuru realises that ;” One heart is not connected to another  through harmony alone.They are instead linked deeply  through their wounds as well..Pain linked to pain ,fragility to fragility.There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed,no acceptance without  a passage through acute loss.”

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Tsukuru decides to visit three of his living friends, by showing up without an appointment. First he visits Ao, who has become a salesman at a Lexus dealership in Nagoya city who tells him that Shiro had proclaimed that she was raped by him.  Then he visits Aka who has started his own company that provides a combination of personal development seminars and a company training center” Kuro lives in Finland now , with her Finnish husband and two little daughters. When he meets Kuro(Eri), she tells Tsukuru that in those days, she was in love with him.About Aka , Eri says;”I still consider him a good friend. Though I haven’t seen him in seven or eight years”. Shiro is no longer in this world. She was mentally unbalanced and had falsely accused Tsukuru of having raped her.The three friends tell him , one after the other that though they had decided to  banish Tsukuru from the group because of  Shiro’s accusation , they were convinced that Shiro had  made false accusation. After meeting his three friends, he finds that the   community that he assumed had persisted  without him , does not exist.He has missed little as a result of his abandonment.Not every thing was lost in the flow of time.

                  What will become of Tsukuru? .  “Sara said she has feelings for me.He has no reason to doubt it.But there are countless things in the world for which affection is not enough.Life is long , and sometimes cruel.Sometimes victims are needed.”  Murakami  ends the book without  any  guaranteed happy ending. But Tsukuru realises  that nothing is completely resolved in life. The important  thing is to keep living  because only by living  can you see what  happens next.But even if Sara rejects him , Tsukuru will be able to deal  with rejection in a much healthier way.