NOVELOHOLIC

NORWEGIAN WOOD                                 

BY HARUKI MURAKAMI

[ORIGINAL SUMMARY]

Norwegian Wood is the story of Toru Watanabe, a young man who is damaged by the suicide of his high school friend, Kizuki. Toru falls in love with Kizuki’s tortured girlfriend, Naoko, who is isolated in her own mind. When she goes into a mental hospital, he promises to wait for her. Meanwhile, though, he falls in love with Midori, an open and uninhibited girl who represents life. Toru is filled with guilt when Naoko kills herself, but ultimately he calls out to Midori.

The novel begins when Toru is thirty-seven, remembering the events that happened to him twenty years ago. In high school, Toru, his best friend Kizuki, and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko are inseparable. They are all bound together by Kizuki. However, Kizuki’s suicide throws Naoko and Toru into depression. Both choose to attend colleges in Tokyo, where they can get away from their pasts.

Toru runs into Naoko one day while he is in college, and the two start to see each other every Sunday. They go on long walks through Tokyo. Though Naoko has trouble talking and expressing herself , they spend every Sunday together. On Naoko’s birthday, Toru brings her a cake, and they spend the evening drinking wine and listening to music. Naoko talks continuously, but she seems to be avoiding certain subjects. Then she breaks down in tears. Toru makes love to her, but the next day she disappears. Toru writes to her and longs for her but hears nothing for a long while.

 When Naoko finally writes to Toru, he learns she’s had a mental breakdown and is in a sanatorium. While he waits for her, Toru goes to classes and works, remaining isolated until he meets Midori, a girl who appears and then disappears for days or weeks. He goes to visit her at her family’s bookstore, and they share a kiss although each is attached to another.

Toru goes to visit Naoko at the sanatorium, and he shares a day with her walking in a meadow. It’s the closest he ever is to Naoko, and she tells him about her sister, who also killed herself when Naoko was young. Naoko asks Toru to always remember her, and Toru asks her to live with him when she gets out of the sanatorium.

After the visit, though, Toru falls in love with Midori. Midori has been through the deaths of both of her parents from brain cancer, and she is exhausted with caring for others. She wants someone who will care for her. Toru does not know what to do when he realizes he is in love with Midori. He asks Midori to wait while he sorts things out with Naoko. However, Naoko takes a turn for the worse. She kills herself, and Toru is flung into a pit of grief, despair, and guilt. Toru travels around Japan, alone with his sorrow. When he finally begins to emerge, he calls Midori from a clouded pit of depression.

A TWIST IN THE TALE

[CHANGED ENDING]

Norwegian Wood is the story of Toru Watanabe, a young man who is damaged by the suicide of his high school friend, Kizuki. Toru falls in love with Kizuki’s tortured girlfriend, Naoko, who is isolated in her own mind. When she goes into a mental hospital, he promises to wait for her. Meanwhile, though, he falls in love with Midori, an open and uninhibited girl who represents life. Toru is filled with guilt when Naoko kills herself, but ultimately he calls out to Midori.

The novel begins when Toru is thirty-seven, remembering the events that happened to him twenty years ago. In high school, Toru, his best friend Kizuki, and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko are inseparable. They are all bound together by Kizuki. However, Kizuki’s suicide throws Naoko and Toru into depression. Both choose to attend colleges in Tokyo, where they can get away from their pasts.

Toru runs into Naoko one day while he is in college, and the two start to see each other every Sunday. They go on long walks through Tokyo. Though Naoko has trouble talking and expressing herself, they spend every Sunday together. On Naoko’s birthday, Toru brings her a cake, and they spend the evening drinking wine and listening to music. Naoko talks continuously, but she seems to be avoiding certain subjects. Then she breaks down in tears. Toru makes love to her, but the next day she disappears. Toru writes to her and longs for her but hears nothing for a long while.

When Naoko finally writes to Toru, he learns she’s had a mental breakdown and is in a sanatorium. While he waits for her, Toru goes to classes and works, remaining isolated until he meets Midori, a girl who appears and then disappears for days or weeks. He goes to visit her at her family’s bookstore, and they share a kiss, although each is attached to another.

Toru goes to visit Naoko at the sanatorium, and he shares a day with her walking in a meadow. It’s the closest he ever is to Naoko, and she tells him about her sister, who also killed herself when Naoko was young. Naoko asks Toru always to remember her, and Toru asks her to live with him when she gets out of the sanatorium.

After the visit, though, Toru falls in love with Midori. Midori has been through the deaths of both of her parents from brain cancer, and she is exhausted with caring for others. She wants someone who will care for her. Toru does not know what to do when he realizes he is in love with Midori. He asks Midori to wait while he sorts things out with Naoko.

Midori being who she is, was fed up with being treated like an option and liability by everyone, decides to leave Toru and move to Kyoto to start a new life, away from her parents’ book store, her house, Toru, everyone. Meanwhile, after a fortnight since Toru’s visit to the sanatorium, Naoko finally decides to leave the place, once and for all, with the acceptance of the past events which have shaped her into who she is now, including all the trauma. Five days before leaving, she wrote a letter to Toru talking about her departure and how she wanted to meet him.

“I’m so glad you are back. How are you feeling?” asked Toru as he hoped to find his answer of whether he should rekindle things with her.

“I’m much better. Time had its healing effect at last. I also have Reiko to thank for it. But there is something I’d like to tell you Toru.”

“Go on.”

“Over the past few months, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve asked myself questions I shouldn’t have, thought more deeper than ever, and finally have a bit of an idea of how to move forward, and for that, I need to forget all this. You, Kizuki, my sister, the sanitarium and everything that I’ve been through to move on. “

“You mean having a clean slate?” asked an astonished Toru.

“Yeah, something like that,” said Naoko

“So, is this our last meeting?”

“For a few years, perhaps”

Both sat quietly for a while. Those 3 minutes of uncomfortable silence felt like three years. Finally, to divert the topic, Toru started talking about his college and his future plans. They wished each other luck and promised to meet in a few years.

Darkness ensued Toru’s mind as he was walking back home from the train station. His Naoko, Kizuki’s Naoko was leaving. Perhaps his wait for her wasn’t worth it. Or maybe it was. Who knows. Just before opening the door to his house, he saw a letter in the mailbox. It read FROM: MIDORI KOBAYASHI. He was caught off guard. He went to his kitchen to get a knife and plate to eat the melon which he had bought on the way back and then opened the letter and read what Midori wrote of: her leaving.

He was shattered. First Kizuki then Naoko and now Midori too. Each of his confidants had left him. Maybe the problem was with him. Just as he seems to recover from one person’s departure, another follows. He couldn’t bear that anymore. The thought of suicide also passed by his mind but for what good? He didn’t want anyone to suffer because of his death the way he did because of others’.He decided to challenge his destiny by not giving up. That narrow beam of hope hidden beneath his shattered peace struck hard, and he lived, hoping that things would get better. EVENTUALLY.

Alternate ending by – Radhika Ahuja

MY NEW ROOM(PART ONE)

I was never passionate about studies since my childhood. This always made my parents worried. Now, since I had graduated their worry increased on daily basis and so were their scoldings. I was preparing for UPSC CSE and my dream was to become an IAS. But my concentration was not supporting me in achieving my goal. So, to help myself I started watching motivational videos on YouTube. A two-hour motivational video motivated me enough to study for one hour. After some days, the one hour reduced to 40 minutes and the time I spent on watching motivational videos increased. Days passed and the exam was coming closer. After so much scrolling on YouTube for topics like “How to study?”, “How to increase study time?”, “How to make my subjects interesting?”. I came across a video, which made some sense. The guy in the video recommended that living alone for preparation of exams will help. He said, “At our homes, there are so many distractions like the TV, computer, smartphones, sibling, friends and sometimes parents. If we live alone in a single room without any of these distractions, just with our books anyone can clear even the world’s toughest exam.” At that time this advice made a lot of sense to me. Told my parents about this idea, they found a room for me around 10 km away and all my belongings were shifted there, then I was blindfolded and dropped there so I won’t be able to find my way back(my idea). As decided I just took a small cellphone which was able to just make calls and as a deal, I would get the smartphone during the weekends for clearing my doubts.

My meals were going to be delivered by my parents or sometimes they would order at my place using any food delivery application.

The room was an extended part of a big bungalow where my landlords lived. My landlords were an old couple in their 60s having a son working in the US. They had asked their maid to clean the room as told by my parents but when I entered, it didn’t seem clean. There were spider webs in corner and lots of dust on the floor. I cleaned it myself. So the walls of the room were pale pink and one wall was half-covered with tiles maroon in colour with floral design same as my curtains. The room was unusually tall. As if extended later on. The wall was half brick and half wooden on the upper side as if extended later on. It had a small kitchen and a bathroom. 

I started studying, wrote on board, wrote on the tiles with an erasable marker. The first day I studied 8 hours continuously!

My father came with dinner and asked me about the room and progress in studies. Hearing that I studied for 8 hours he was really happy and ignored my concern about the unclean room and the unusual height. After a day of hard work, it was time to sleep. It was around 11:30 PM when I started sleeping. I was disturbed by a sound knock probably at my door. When I came to my senses, I got confused that whether the knock was in a dream or real. The landlord’s had told me that they would close the main gates 10:30 PM. I saw there the keyhole, there was just darkness. I grabbed a knife from the kitchen and opened my door fast holding the knife very tightly behind my back with my right fist. A spine chilling breeze blew inside my room through me. No one was there. Closed the doors and went back to bed with a knife beneath my pillow. When I was about to sleep my heart rate would fasten up and I woke up with a feeling that someone passed close to me. I thought probably this is because it’s my first day sleeping alone at someone else’s house and my heart is not feeling safe. I slept at 6 am as I was feeling safer during the daytime. Woke Up around 10, opened my door to get fresh air, saw my breakfast in tiffin lying near the door. As I went to freshen up, while sitting on the toilet seat, I noticed there was a space between the wall and the ceiling of the bathroom. A gap of around 2 feet. I was really curious about what was there, but there was no way to climb up there. 

I started studying in the night and sleeping during the day time as it felt more secure. One night around 1 I heard a noise of an electric racket used for killing mosquitoes. The sound is basically like really small crackers bursting. Grabbed my knife and opened the gate to see who was there. It was my landlady! Killing mosquitoes of her garden which is in front of my room at one 1 AM! It was the first time I was seeing her, she was pale white, wearing a nightgown and somewhat healthy and lacked eyelashes. Suddenly she stopped and looked at me with her expressionless face. I smiled and quickly closed the door. I was unable to study after that. As I was lying still, I noticed a cockroach which was going inside my mattress and I was too late to respond. I uncovered my mattress and caught the cockroach and flushed it in the toilet. When I was to cover my mattress, I noticed a hole in it and saw that the fabric used in the filling was black. As I put my finger inside the hole to see what the fabric was made of, I realised it was not a fabric but hairs! I was horrified and called my parents, and dad said this kind of mattress is common, it might be a horsehair mattress. I asked him to get the mattress from my room.

As decided, I got the smartphone on Saturday. During the night time, I was face timing with my girlfriend, telling her about my new initiative and concerns about my new room. As I was showing her my room, I noticed a shadow moving towards my bathroom. 

Me- Did you just see that?

she- See what?

Me- The shadow! near my bathroom.

She- No, I didn’t see anything, that might be yours or a glitch. 

And then we started to talk about other things. As she was showing her new tattoo which was on her leg, I noticed a shadow behind me in my video. No, it was not of me! It was bald oval-shaped head and a really big body with no ears. 

Me- hey, just see behind me.

She- what?

Me- I mean the shadow. Can you see the shadow which is behind me?

She- No, and I think you are trying to freak me out. 

Me- No, I swear I saw it.

She- I didn’t see anything, probably you are tired, get some sleep. We will talk tomorrow.

Immediately I called my parents. And told them that I saw a ghost in my video while taking a selfie with Snapchat(of course, brown parents won’t accept an unsuccessful son’s girlfriend). My father laughed it off by saying, “was that ghost getting the Snapchat filter too” and asked me to sleep. But how could I sleep or study now? To distract my mind I started watching porn.

Next day I woke up hearing a blast during the afternoon. Stepped outside to see what has happened. The transformer of my landlord’s bungalow had a short circuit and has caught fire. Everyone in the locality came to see what has but my landlords were nowhere to be seen. The society security guards started to throw sand on it to extinguish the fire. I got inside my room. Everything was working fine due to inverters. At around 10 pm there was a knock at my door. The landlady was on the door. She asked me to turn off everything as the electrician was fixing the transformer and to put that knife back.

During the afternoon I decided to see what was in the gap of the bathroom ceiling. Rang the bell of my landlord’s but no one came out. After 3 attempts, I decided not to disturb them further. As I was about to leave, the gates opened. She asked me what happened. I asked for the ladder as I need to clean my fan. I said I can take it by myself just tell me where is it. She told me to stop. And she brought it by herself. As I was taking the ladder from her, I smelt something. Something rotten, it was coming from her. I couldn’t handle that anymore. Quickly took the ladder and came to my room. It was a ladder made of bamboo. As I was climbing to see what was there. The bamboo stick beneath my leg broke and I fell. The planned failed with a wound. As I was putting the ladder in the garden, I noticed the maid was cleaning the veranda of the bungalow. I called her.

Me -Can you please clean my bathroom ceiling.

maid -No.

Me -I will pay you.

maid – I don’t enter the rooms of this bungalow.

Me – Why?

To Be Continued…..

Written By – Satyam Kumar Tiwari

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