Finally, I am alone, but not in a lonely Murakami way. For a while it felt like there was something constantly stirring my insides with a spoon, a whirl of something untamed and unsettled. These days, I have been coming home to a suburban quiet and my thoughts appropriately mimic the placidity of my neighborhood. Instead of merely going through the motions of “being fine”, I have been looking forward to falling asleep with a book or doing chores while songs fill my rented space, in perfect solitude. And the most beautiful part of it is that I am writing again.
I feel as though I went through phases after a recent break-up: denial, fear, longing and then, acceptance. Like the moon and its phases – I have turned and changed. Now, I am full and glowing in spite of darkness.
I started reading Haruki Murakami’s recent novel “1Q84”, which talks a lot about the moon and its power to orient/disorient us, a few weeks after the break-up. It was a time of self-doubt, which is very suitable to Murakami loneliness. I think this is why, despite having known about the novel months earlier, I chose to start reading it right then. The copy I own is a three-volume box set, which I found while on an errand. Its case was slightly damaged, but it was their last copy and I was drawn to this particular edition even with its corners crooked. I devoured the first book within a week. It was amidst a messy time early on during the aforementioned phases I went through, and it took a while to find the right momentum to move forward.
Four months later, all loose ends have been resolved; the personal messes have been sorted and the book, finished before my tropical December begins. I even managed to squeeze an interesting non-fiction book in-between. The end of 1Q84 (which in the novel, also coincidentally, ends in December) seems to have been perfectly synced to meet me at this apex of singlehood.
I was never a huge and gushing Murakami fan, but I have always appreciated how he writes about loneliness. In this recent work, he even tries to find a solution for it. It echoes Aristophanes belief that there is someone out there for each of us, our other halves. I am still unsold on this idea of having a soulmate. I grew up thoroughly believing in its magic, hoping that my unfortunate encounters were mere setbacks. I have felt, too proactive, in meeting it. Maybe, you are supposed to wait with your hands pinned under you: for the right time and the right person. These will come, as long as you want them to, but you are not supposed to force any sort of collision (which I feel I may have been doing). These rationalizations come and go. I have been too shy to admit to anything aloud. Reading this novel has certainly made me toy with the possibility of a soulmate again, but still, I am mostly, unwilling to be disappointed.
So here I am, alone but not in a lonely Murakami way. This is not an exhaustive hole of a bleak singularity but a space – a kind of temple – I have built for myself. I have measured it to certain specifications: I can lie inside it, jump and dance inside it, but it is unable to fit another body but mine. Its walls are neatly lined with photographs, in a grid, of those I have loved and learned from, each one candidly capturing the fall: the moment I appreciated them the most, the moment I thought I fell in love. This place would have looked differently ten years ago when I had imagined love to be reserved for a lifetime partner: a boy friend who became a boyfriend and then idealistically, a husband. My soulmate. He would have fit in here with me, and images of him would surround the room (it would have been less a temple and more of a shrine).
In this temple I find myself building and rebuilding time and again, apart from the photographs, I imagine that inside it, is also a canvas. It holds my thoughts, ideas and self-proclamations. It contains many layers of words, some of which have been noticeably erased, in a profusion of colour. In the middle of the scrawls and scribbles, of these things I hold true, surrounded by a membrane of whiteness, but occupying a significant amount of space is a word painted clearly and boldly: ALONE. It does not try to explain or define itself; it is unashamed.
It is the perfect time to be done with 1Q84. Though I was enamored and charmed by the story (it is probably my favourite Haruki Murakami so far), I am ready to be more adventurous. Love is different now, and so is loneliness. Neither of which, are so terrifying.