It is simple and beautiful like most Japanese literature. Reading Hiromi Kawakami’s Strange Weather in Tokyo is a lot like staring at the night sky and wondering what about it seems so fascinating.
The book is a love story that is very relatable despite its uncanny situation and plot.
An almost forty year old Tsukiko finds herself in the company of her Japanese secondary school teacher whom she barely remembers when he first approaches her.
They later on find themselves entangled in a karmic situation — meeting without making plans and without having any expectations and demands.
The book takes you on a journey of doubts and fears all in the name of love. It’s not heavily laden with societal problems and pressures, instead it focused more on the characters’ internal predicaments and fears.
The music is unchanged and yet our dance feels different — like palms that catch smoke. Stubborn smoke nestles in our air spaces which sends me gasping; while you remain indifferent as if your lungs have always been burning. I never set them on fire. It wasn’t me.
I miss the way you pluck out seeds in your heart and blow them into my insides. The flowers aren’t hiding. They have long been gone. Even weeds do not find it worthwhile to even try to exist.
We are dead.
You and I.
The fire did not kill us.
We are less fire and more dead-ice.
Yes, we are.
Every night I wish only that you would be mine. This I always shyly and cautiously leave hanging in the air. Only the stars and the leaves that rustle by my feet bear witness to my desperation – my pathetic contradictions.
Every night the moon watches me and drowns my plea with its silvery moonlight. I watch my shadows dance beneath the lamppost as I whisper my request out into the world.
The moonlight does not falter. It seeps through my very being. It fills me up and empties me.
Unlike the fragments of light that escape the clasp of leaves and branches, my wish will not reach the Gods.
Every night I whisper your name out into the world in the hopes of having you closer to me. In exchange, a piece of you is taken by the Gods as my own special atonement.
My heart tells me I should stop. My mind urges me forward.
Tell me, will the moon ever run out of light?
the wind, knocked out of me.
my lungs, like stubborn wind
does not succumb,
unable to surrender to death
for your sake.
my heart breaks
to a fast paced waltz
it shatters more,
each piece crying out
each letter of your name
it starts with a loud J
and ends in a hushed
it comes back.
like the ghost of poison
enough to bring forth
and cause me
to bend forward.
and scream your name
A young man probably in his late twenties sat down beside me and started a monologue without regard of embarrassment as if I am a longtime friend he had not seen for years and not like the strangers that we really are. He did not look at me when he split open his heart and shoved it to me.
I wish that she could have loved me… not like how much I adored her but even more — like how the day marries the night without question. I wish that she could have loved me so earnestly enough for her to have created a storm inside my emptiness. I wish that she could have loved me enough for me to burst into an endless symphony of chaos and beauty that made sense and meant nothing altogether. I wish that she could have loved me enough . . .
I silently shift from my seat and watch as the things my feet had collected over time escape leisurely. Why must I be the pit stop of leaves and withered flowers whilst I wait for you?
What else can the wind ferry off to me?
I see a woman’s umbrella almost answering my query. The wind blows a neon pink candy wrapper at the mercy of my feet. I pick it up and watch little pebbles attempting to sway to the wind’s serenade. I beckon the wind to bring me more things.
It rolls a discarded plastic bottle close enough for me to pick up. I grin. What an amusing game this is!
I wait for more things and close my eyes. I urge my ears to listen.
I hear a young lady’s voice tremble with desperation. I hear a balloon pop and a child’s frenzied laughter. I hear the gentle chimes of tiny bells.
The wind has brought fragments of life to me.
I hear the familiar tapping of shoes. In my mind I see her walking toward me and wait with my eyes still closed. The wind brings her closer to me. I smile. She smells of lavender soap and a light musky perfume.
What are you doing? She whispers this into my ear.
Waiting. I answered.
I have decided to just go fall madly in love with myself.
I have declared to love myself at the start of my summer vacation. I do not want to fool anyone into thinking that in just almost a month’s time I have accomplished this because for sure, I’m far from anywhere but where I started. But this statement has helped break illusions and has got me thinking of just how much more there is to this self-love movement.
After much confusion and much time spent on thinking of ways on how to actualise this new goal, I have decided to go with being naked first. It sounds too bold and crazy — to go out naked. No, I do not mean that I would strip down and walk around in my birthday suit, challenging people’s sensibilities.
What I mean by being naked is to stop hiding behind so much walls, clothes, facades and pseudonyms; and be okay with it. I feel like by being comfortable with my own imperfections and my own flaws and being unapologetic about it is a good place to start because then, I would probably cultivate my sense of self-awareness more and in the process, understand the many ways I can learn to love myself and how I can improve more. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy feat but it’s probably worth trying.
Please give me your blessing for this.