When I was a kid, in 2nd grade, my dad was posted in the Himalayas. Families weren't allowed there, so I used to live with my mother at her mother's house. Right above the bed where I used to sleep with my grandmother, was this strange painting of a house. The canvas was a dark cloth, and the painting was made of light-grey outlines of a hill with a house on it. It had a slanting roof and a chimney with a hand coming out of it. I used to stare at this terrifying picture every night while going to sleep. It was much later that I realised it was actually smoke that was coming out of the chimney. Smoke that looked very convincingly like a hand.
Whenever I think of this picture, feelings of horror are mixed with the beautiful memories of living with my grandmother. Listening to the watchman making his rounds around the houses, listening to tales spun by my grandma, peeking outside the vertical-tilting window to see the moonlit houses. That green Russian folktales book I had, and Baba-Yaga. Chasing dust-mites in beams of light, playing with a 1991 calendar; with faint memories of something big going on. The house in the painting itself must have featured in many of my dreams and my nightmares. All these memories mix and mingle to evoke feelings from every corner of my brain. I am left with tears in my eyes, heaviness in my heart, and regret in my mind that all of it is now gone.
And somehow, everytime I finish a short story by Haruki Murakami; all these feelings rush up to me. Whether the story had a happy ending, or challenged my stomach; the nostalgia, the beauty, the love, all rushes up to me. Each story reminds me of my love for thunderstorms. For stormy nights, that are spent alone. Loneliness that I cannot bear, but the feeling of which I love.
I remember so much that I just want to lose myself in my memories.
That is Haruki Murakami for me.