I went out with friends to the Haruki Murakami festival. It was Saturday and we all met up at a coffee shop inside a local bookstore. When I stepped inside the café, the abundance of Japanese women welcomed me; many were slumped on the seats while a few were at the counter, ordering frappes in a soft curled accent that sounded gentle and endearing. The smell of coffee beans tickled my nose and urged me to get something. I proceeded to order a cool youthberry because I fall for zero-calorie claims like that.
When my friends arrived, we trod to the event venue that was just across the café. The walls were clean white, adorned with artsy graffiti near the ceiling. We walked further the chamber to get ourselves a seat; but it was a standing room for the three of us, which we all didn’t mind. Un-fancy as we were, we perched ourselves on a spacious windowsill. I guess we were lucky because we had enough space to lay down our cups of coffee and we also had a good view of both the speakers and the scene outside.
The first speaker focused on relating Murakami to the Filipino culture; the second offered a comparative dissection of his works and its themes. Murakami has a way of making loneliness easily understood. I am gripped with how he translates the problems of the mind through evocative stories and not factual explanations — that he makes his works painfully relatable not necessarily with realism. Yes, his stories are rarely hopeful but they’re all cathartic in the truest sense of the word.
Years back, I thought to myself that maybe it was just me who regarded his works in this way. But the discussion got me vindicated because the shared opinions voiced out these sentiments.
The epic part of the talk was the q&a. One of the askers went: “I’ve never read Murakami in my life but I’m here because I’m courting a girl and she really likes Murakami…” — Can you imagine how we almost died laughing! 😂 Then another person followed the same train of thought but explained how it eventually became a personal preference after consuming her first Murakami book. It was such an intimate assembly where everyone was passionate about his works. Those moments felt like this quote from Sputnik Sweetheart:
“We’re both looking at the same moon, in the same world. We’re connected to reality by the same line.”
At the end of it all, English was not the universal language. There were countless others — all felt — like love, hope, gratitude, and shared admiration. What is your favorite Murakami story? 💖