Monday, October 05, 2015

In the Dark of the Night

Bought a copy of Mitsuyo Kakuta's new book. The title roughly translates into 'Thousands of Nights, Yesterday's Moon' ('ikusen no you kinō no tsuki'); at least that's what the English on the cover said.『幾千の夜、昨日の月』by 角田光代. I like her writing and her stories, occasionally whimsical and often full of astute observations of her surroundings, Japanese society and culture, and people.

24 short stories depict the feelings experienced in the night when the author traveling out of Japan, from the starry skies at summer camp to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Paris in France to Marrakech in Morocco to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia to Bangkok in Thailand. Each story tells of her feelings at the breaking of dawn. Of journeys of self-reflection, wondering about loneliness and being alone, and how the night amplifies that. Obviously I couldn't help thinking of the prayer to the Lord of Light R'hllor"The night is dark and full of terrors." #GoT :p In 「海夜、山夜」, going down a winding mountain road, she pondered about life and living, wondering if her path taken is right.


In「用無しの夜もある」, her observations of Bangkok's nightlife are spot-on, especially how she called red light district Patpong 'evil' and sleazy when she visited it 17 years ago. Visiting it again later on as a 40-year-old woman didn't change her mind about it, but her observations are now tinged with great sadness and empathy, and less of disgust. Parallels how I feel about Bangkok.

The second last story in the book is「魂が旅する夜」. The title kinda refers to 'a soul's journey'. She writes of how her mother was hospitalized for a night. She was there of course, and spent some time reflecting on souls who came through the hospital's doors and in that silence, the anxiety felt by other souls. As always, the hospital makes us feel mortality ever so keenly. I'm sure we've all paced that corridor outside the wards or the operating theatre. The hospital is the venue that grants continued life, but it also separates the living and the dead.

病院の夜はどこの夜とも違う。 人の魂が自由に行き来している、 そんな意味で「開いている」感じがする。

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