The Murakami Effect

“Wow,” I thought to myself, after reading the last word of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, and stared fixedly at the page. It took me only 2 days to finish (with work in between), simply because I was unable to stop reading. 

The clock on the wall shows it’s almost midnight. 

It’s beyond me to describe this deep…sorrow and unnamed unsettling feelings rising up in my chest. As a result, I was pacing around the room, earphones plugged in my ears playing one song on repeat. In my head, trains of thoughts of nothing in particular kept swirling one after another. I couldn’t quite catch any of them. 

What a weird sensation. 

I vaguely remembered reading Norwegian Wood and how bleak and suffocating the novel made me feel, many years ago. It was too much sorrow, the kind I did not understand at all, back in college years. 

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, once again, is full of melancholy and sorrow. As well as nostalgia, loneliness, self-discovery journey, forgiveness, and so much more. 

But this time, this kind of sorrow, I…get it. The feelings go straight to the heart. While I was reading it, many waves of emotions kept hitting me relentlessly. Even made me stunned in the end. 

One thing for certain, I’ve never felt this deeply touched by any novel before. 

“This must be Murakami Effect,” I closed my eyes, trying to yank myself back to reality, silent all chaotic thoughts, and sleep. No more feels, please. 

The plot is fairly simple. One day in college, a guy named Tsukuru Tazaki was “expelled” from his closest group of 4 high school friends. They decided to cut him off and did not want to speak to him ever again, with no explanation. For about 7 months, Tsukuru contemplated about nothing but commit suicide. It affected his life so much that he felt scared to be emotionally close with anyone else ever since. 

Sixteen years later, now 36, he is determined to find the truth from all his friends, in the hope to be free from his haunting past and pain. And the journey of discovery begins. 

Murakami uses colors as a symbol of alienation in this book and I personally love that. All Tsukuru’s friends and characters in this story have different “colors” attached as a part of their names, except Tsukuru whose name is “colorless” Therefore, he constantly thinks his life is as empty and colorless as the name implies. 

Perhaps I know the reason why this novel touched me this much. 

It somewhat resonates what I’m going through, my current state of mind. The book stirred those deep feelings I wasn’t even aware I have left, as well as memories from the past I tried my best to bury underneath, to resurface. It comes out as a mild shock, having to feel it all again because of just one book.  

To put it simply, the story is about a person’s self-discovery journey. It’s about growing up, struggling with pain, trying to overcome the past, and finally accepting, making peace with it. 

You can miss something in the past terribly, like how Tsukuru and his friends admitted that the times that 5 of them spent together was once in a lifetime and nothing could resemble that kind of precious friendship ever since. At the same time, though, you realize how everything has changed so much since then. Even though something terrible that caused you so much pain did happen, once your head begins to wrap around the situation from the present viewpoint, you gradually accept that it’s better things turned out this way, the way it did. 

You lost something once special and meaningful to you, but that is life. Nothing lasts forever. Not even the pain. 

In this novel, it takes 16 years for everybody involved to resolve that pain, 16 years for someone to have the courage to apologize and forgive. 

Tsukuru may think he’s the only one suffering from the situation as he was rejected from the group. But the story tells us that everyone suffers in their own different ways as a consequence, even though all of them leads separate lives. 

“You can hide memories but can’t erase the history that produced them.” 

Perhaps I was wrong. We didn’t become desensitized by life as we grow older. We probably are better at hiding it and pretending that things are okay. We are able to feel things deeply still, but in a different way from our youth. The pain lingers longer, leaves us with wounds and scars from the past. 

The sadness is not overpowering us and we no longer weep because of it. 

Instead, it’s etched on our skin and transformed into permanent scars, deeper than before, and eventually becomes a part of who we are. 

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