On cats, casualties and Japan

I’m not well. Nothing major. A cold perhaps. The type the gets progressively worse and leaves me with a head like an echo chamber and a little on the spacey side. I can’t sleep it off even if I wanted. 

I have only one memory of being unwell as a child. Feverish I stayed in bed for what must have been days. When I put my feet onto the ground to take myself outside to the toilet, the dizziness was so strong I thought I might fall over. 

I’m into another Haruki Murakami, this time Kafka by the Shore. I’m too early in to know what is happening. The story follows many threads, children who fall unconscious in the forest of Japan on a mushrooming expedition with their teacher. And no one can account for what happened, though there are hints it might be a nerve gas. Close by Hiroshima with hints of worse top come.

This is during the Second World War, 1944, and American planes are doing their bit to terrify the Japanese people.

People are always the casualties of war. Ordinary people caught in the cross fire of their leaders.

One of the children who falls unconscious on that mountainside, unlike the other children does not wake up. He never regains his memory or intellectual ability and spends his life thinking he is stupid. We meet him some fifty years after the event. He has one ability though. He can talk to cats. He’s on a pension from the government which he subsidies with cash payments for finding lost cats.

Murakami has a thing for lost cats and for people with amazing abilities who find them.

I find Murakami a soothing read even as he takes me into worlds that make little sense to me.

And I think back to that time in 2016 when I travelled to Japan with my husband to visit our daughter who was living there for three years with her then boyfriend, now husband, to gain experience of living and working outside Australia. It must have been her thirtieth birthday when we visited. 

Each day our daughter and her partner took us on tours of Tokyo where they were living. And the thing that stays with me, the visit to the shrine, all dark panelled and situated among glorious squat trees like full sized origami on platforms of rock. 

Everywhere tourists cast their votive offerings to the gods. As did I. 

I was horrified with what came back to me. I sent wishes that my book might find a publisher. Years before I wished for babies. And decades before that my dad might stop drinking or that he might die. 

All my wishes have come true though it took my father many years to die and by the time he was gone I was not so keen on his leaving. Nor was I distressed by his death. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be grief stricken on the death of a father. Though I see other people who grieve for their dadas in ways I can only imagine.

With my noise cancelling headphone cradling my ears, the malaise that has come upon me is now not so intense. Almost not there. 

I saw a tiny dead bird on the footpath on my walk with the dogs this morning. So pink so foetal. So sad it must have fallen from its nest and died there on the cold hard earth. 

I thought to take a photo, but it seemed sacrilegious somehow. As if to keep its death on view forever.

Better to let it fade under the tree where it first saw life.