“I will go deep in the woods
From where no roads diverge
And I would poke at an anthill
To be instantly submerged”
Isn’t this relatable? Any human being who has lived long enough to understand what life is, has wished for an escape at some point in their life. But how many of us have actually reached that threshold to actually give up?
The world isn’t a happy place and not every human is optimistic about it. Yet, life is all about finding that silver lining in the gloomy cloud. The question, however, remains whether everyone is able to find it?
Murakami in the Woods beautifully explores the contrasting human nature; of the giver and the taker, the optimist and pessimist, the one who made it and the one who got away. The highlight of the story lies in the simplicity and sophistication with which the author is able to link a forest with life; how both of them grow, change paths and get rid of the dead to pave way for the living. Yet, there is something familiar about them which forces you to make an effort to explore it more, perhaps in hopes of finding that peace we run after.
The story begins with some nostalgic feelings of the narrator towards rain, cigarette and his love, Murakami. Co-incidentally (not) both, the rain and cigarette, take him back to Murakami. He recalls her as the love of his life and yet someone he could never completely figure out. Maybe that is what drew him towards her in the first place. After all, humans tend to find beauty in all that is broken. The sense of accomplishment that they get after they’ve somehow ‘fixed’ something or somebody is parallel to none. However, we forget one thing: Broken people and broken things are not the same. Broken humans need to heal. They don’t need to be fixed.
Did the narrator understand this? Perhaps not.
While the story talks about optimism of the narrator and how he somehow found the will to live again, metaphorically; the story fails to explain the other spectrum of human behavior.
The narrator and his muse were different at a very basic level, and that difference can be understood just by comparing their views towards the tree planted by their window. While the narrator believed it to be a symbolism of their relationship, Murakami saw it as an unnecessary whim. The narrator’s obsession with the tree to grow, somehow, made him forget that he needs to nurture it as well.
As a reader, even without much details about her, I could relate to Murakami more. She is painted in shades of being aloof and unattached, but was she? Consider this, while she would never openly claim her love for the narrator, her love was evident in smaller actions; like asking the narrator to be with her when they climaxed or when she nonchalantly said that they make a perfect pair because she was lost and he knew how to find the way.
Murakami might have tried to be a better person for the narrator but knowing herself, she always maintained a charade because of the fear that she might disappoint him. Her leaving him ‘just like that’ might seem like a spontaneous decision to the narrator, but to a troubled soul like Murakami’s, it must have been deliberated over and over again. She understood that narrator couldn’t accept his defeat, that he wouldn’t be able to understand what the problem was and thus, walked away.
This left me with the question: Was it really Murakami or the narrator that needed to be saved?
The story ends with the narrator, somehow, finding Murakami in an anthill. And as she draws her last breath, she hands over a glowing seed back to narrator. In a beautiful manner, the author showcases that finally our narrator decided to move on; let go of his doubts and questions for the truth was that Murakami was long gone. And perhaps it was time that he moved ahead with his life as well and bury Murakami in the woods, thus, finding the peace he searched for.
As a reader, I hope he does. And so, does Murakami.
If you want to read this story, get it here.