NORWEGIAN WOOD EXCERPT #2: Dialogue Between Midori Kobayashi and Toru Watanabe

Midori and Toru: The Feast and The Rooftop-Talk by tiaralesmana

“Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it – to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more. Just once. But they never gave that to me. Never, no once. If I tried to cuddle up and beg for something, they’d just shove me away and yell at me. ‘No! That costs too much!’ It’s all I ever heard. So I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally 365 days a year. I was still in primary school at the time, but I made up my mind once and for all.”

“Wow,” I said. “And did your search pay off?”

“That’s the hard part,” said Midori. She watched the rising smoke for a while, thinking. “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.”

“Waiting for the perfect love?”

“No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortbread. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortbread out to me. And I say I don’t want it any more and throw it out of the window. That’s what I’m looking for.”

“I’m not sure that has anything to do with love,” I said with some amazement.

“It does,” she said. “You just don’t know it. There are times in a girl’s life when things like that are incredibly important.”

“Things like throwing strawberry shortbread out of the window?”

“Exactly. And when I do it, I want the man to apologize to me. ‘Now I see, Midori. What a fool I’ve been! I should have known that you would lose your desire for strawberry shortbread. I have all the intelligence and sensitivity of a piece of donkey shit. To make it up to you, I’ll go out and buy you something else. What would you like? Chocolate mousse? Cheesecake?'”

“So then what?”

“So then I’d give him all the love he deserves for what he’s done.”

“Sounds crazy to me.”

“Well, to me, that’s what love is. Not that anyone can understand me, though.” Midori gave her head a little shake against my shoulder. “For a certain kind of person, love begins from something tiny or silly. From something like that or it doesn’t begin at all.”

“I’ve never met a girl who thinks like you.”

“A lot of people tell me that,” she said, digging at a cuticle. “But it’s the only way I know how to think. Seriously. I’m just telling you what I believe. It’s never crossed my mind that my way of thinking is different from other people’s. I’m not trying to be different. But when I speak out honestly, everybody thinks I’m kidding or play-acting. When that happens, I feel like everything’s such a pain!”

“And you want to let yourself die in a fire?”

“Hey, no, that’s different. It’s just a matter of curiosity.”

“What? Dying in a fire?”

“No, I just wanted to see how you’d react,” Midori said. “But, I’m not afraid of dying. Really. Like here, I’d just be overcome with the smoke and lose consciousness and die before I knew it. hat doesn’t frighten me at all, compared to the way I saw my mother and few relatives die. All my relatives die after suffering from some terrible illness. It’s in the blood, I guess. It’s always a long, long process, and at the end you almost can’t tell whether the person is alive or dead. All that’s left is pain and suffering.”

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