Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the ‘Book’

Finished reading Haruki Marukami’s ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of The World’

How I feel about it?
Let me put it this way. I had to read the last chapter again, to be sure of my feelings.

“Death leaves cans of shaving cream half-used”

That is one line that stuck, along with the many other things that found their way in me. Especially the chubby girl, ‘dig’, and the emptiness that extended its way from yesterday to today relentlessly.

The Chubby Girl:

Its this character in the book. Bold about her feelings, does not waste much time in futile formalities, and comes straight to the point. She is good at many things, something which she and her grandfather attributes to not ever attending school.
But what struck me about her, or made me feel for her, was the way she expressed her feelings for this one guy. She accepts the fact that the guy might be seeing someone else, or might just be in physical relations with someone else, but nevertheless, her feelings for him takes no step back. And she occasionally gives way to her emotions and asks him if she can touch him or have sex with him, or sometimes just move in with him. Most of this would project out as the curiosity of a girl who has never experienced sex, but there was more than that.

I remember having this same feeling for this female character in a TV series – Kyle XY – which ceased to air after their second season. There was this girl completely in love with Kyle and once when Kyle expresses his love to the character but explains why he cannot be with her because he is with someone else, she just hears the part where he expresses his love and she is content by just that.

There is this hint of complete surrender to love that I might be enjoying from such characters but I am not sure if I am game for it. I mean I am not sure if I will ever be like that or is it just a one way street where I simply imagine such emotions directed towards me from a person, while I simply bob away or around, like the guy in Haruki’s novel or like Kyle. Either way that says something about myself, and if it is the latter case then I don’t think whatever it says about myself is anything good.


This was something that made me smile and have a micro Eureka moment. There is this part in the novel where a couple of people are digging a hole in the ground and the character asks a colonel about it. He inquires the purpose of the hole, and the colonel says that they did it because that is what they do. There is no reason to it, no purpose, they just do it because they do it. That simple! and hence the hole thus created is a pure hole, not bound to any purpose or reason to make it complete. He said it was similar to how he himself plays chess, with no reason or underlying purpose.

And that made me think; Is this how the word ‘dig’ came to be used to things people liked? You have heard it and probably have used it a lot many times.

“I have a playstation at my place. You dig?”

Even though the first time I tried to use it, it came out weird, when I tried to ask a friend if he liked the works of Dan Brown the author, “You dig Dan Brown?”. That was also about the time when I understood that slang usages should be used only when it is common tongue at the place where you are using it. Otherwise you could just end up looking like a person who fantasizes to dig holes through famous authors.

Emptiness Extended:

I had left Mumbai to come to Kerala and with it I thought I should not feel that feeling of void that I had been feeling since a very long time. I was wrong there. This book is filled with farewells and characters asking each other if they will forget them, or to write letters; I could not help but reflect on my farewells.

As part of leaving my country next month I should have been doing my good byes to people, but to most, I just texted that I would be off to US and that is it. To those who inquired about how it all happened so suddenly and why did not I inform earlier, I just typed back,

“Yes, I do that. I go. I do that sometimes. Just this thing I have.”
Even though I typed and the person could not see me I remember I had done that nonchalant shrug after every time I had sent that reply, and I could now imagine the other person taking an oath to never talk to me again.

Also, there were the people who said they will “Miss me” and then the people who said they will “really miss me” just out of the blue. Both times I did not know how to reply and so usually the words that came out were “Yes”, “Hmm” and “Oh”. One particular time I also remember saying “Is it?”.

I know that it was not apt and possibly the exact opposite of apt, but in my defense, I was caught off guard. For some reason, I was not expecting people inquiring about my plans, of feeling that all this is very sudden, or of people saying that they will miss me. I was just informing people that I wont be here. That was pretty much my motive.

And now that I do know that there are people who did all that, and after I have read this book and the so well executed farewells in it, I feel a bit more pushed down in void. I wish I could go back and add some more words, I wish I could be more human on those text replies. I know I still can. I still can make amends, but as far as I know myself, I don’t think I would be doing that. I am good doing the wishing thing for now.

Anyway, the book, it is amazing. Pure marvel. I dig.


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