BOOK REVIEW: THE JAPANESE LOVER

AUTHOR: RANI MANICKA

REVEIWER: VERAH OMWOCHA

 

“One who would unthinkingly put his hand into fire for me. One that would die for me.’’ This is Parvathi’s description of her dream man.

Before we laugh at the absurdity of dying for another –for isn’t everyone entitled to their own death?- let’s get to know Parvathi.

A Ceylonese, Parvathi is prophesied to get married to a wealthy man but have a disastrous marriage.

Parvathi’s lazy father tricks a wealthy businessman into marrying her by sending him another girl’s pictures. Typically, he sells her. When she finally crosses the sea to Kasu Marimuthu’s mansion, the rich guy, two decades older than Parvathi, does not glance at her twice. He is furious at being cheated! As fate would have it, however, he decides against sending her back to her father.

To survive the marriage, Parvathi dedicates herself to the household, to a kind servant and traditional healer, Maya, and to her children. Kasu Marimuthu dies, leaving Parvathi in charge of his estate.

The story shifts from the household to a county backdrop when Japanese solders land in Malaysia during WW2 Ironically, the war transports the gods of love into Parvathi’s life, and bed. For the first time, she is to experience a deep love and passion with complete abandon in the arms of a Japanese army commander, Hattori. When the enemy becomes the lover! But is he going to die for her?

Nothing stood out for me than the depth of Maya’s character. She plays Parvathi’s star guide to life. When layers of guilt pile on Parvathi’s heart, Maya says;

“When all is said and done, Da, only love matters. Sex is a biological function, like eating. …Be patient with yourself, all these little steps you are taking that you imagine so insignificant are virtually important to your soul. Each is a miracle in itself. Use them to stretch out for greatness. Stop wasting time with regret, grow past all shame and embarrassment, and instead welcome every experience. Let your life have the quality of a magnificent celebration.”

It’s difficult to place a hand on what this book is really about. It could be about love, family, loss, adventure, WW2, spiritualism, destiny. The cover, title and blurb all point to great love story but a huge chunk of the book has little to do with love.

Regardless, this book has a unique depth. I was totally absorbed in it.

Sample these quotes:

‘Our past often fills us with loathing at the thought of what we were, have been, and what we suspect still remains in us, but these people cannot be held by our morality, for morality is not fixed and equal at all times.

‘There is nothing in this place of decay that can or will last. Even stones will crumble to dust. Everything changes. The trick is to immerse oneself completely in the moment, live it, and when it goes, to have not an ounce of regret or a backward glance. To know it will go and not mourn for it. To let it be’.

‘Love is a splendorous thing. We come again and again to taste its glory, and too often we forget that we are just passing through. Nothing can last for ever. Tragedies will come to knock on all our doors, but the successful remember it is only a guest. Even jagged glass will not cut if you don’t travel right to its edge. Love, any love, no matter how long it lasts, is a gift’.

Women like her are a gift. They hold in their hands the keys to heaven. Although at first glance it may seem they are our enemies, in reality, they have undertaken to provide us with valuable opportunities to be gentle and patient. To act with love. They do this at great cost to themselves- all the tears I cry she can wipe from her own eyes. It is the law of the universe that as you stretch your hand to give to another, you give to yourself.

Someone should have told her that once a man touches a woman the way he had her, she will start to feel, taste, smell and feel with her heart. And the heart is blind to even the most vicious humiliation.

‘A woman’s beauty must be judged by the men she destroys’.

‘Each of us has come to this earth with a few pieces to a jigsaw puzzle as big as this universe. Each time we meet someone, we unconsciously show them our pieces to see if they have pieces that will fit ours. If they don’t they go their way, and we have no more to do with them. But if they do, ah…that is when the attraction, hate, jealousy, love, heartaches and lessons begin’.

 ‘…they have been incarnated into a certain race to experience all the lessons and opportunities that that race offers. So if they want to marry inside that race and have children of that race, who are you to tell them otherwise? Shall I accuse them of being racist because they don’t want to leave their race for mine? Leave them be. Why ruin their illusions of superiority? By resorting to prejudice  they reveal their lack of confidence in their own worth. Wish them well. It is not for you to judge. Don’t do what they do. Don’t look for differences. Look for the similarities’.

 

The future is a set of probabilities. Every moment we are changing the future with our thoughts, choices and deeds. In fact, there are ways even to change the past if one knows how to. Even the smallest change in a person can have big ripples in his future, and sometimes the entire future of mankind can be changed by one small decision by a single person in one tiny part of the world’.

‘It is difficult to grasp, but everything is already perfect. You see, the universe is made up of only three forces, positive, negative and balance. When does peace come to a pendulum? When it stops swinging either way, and stays exactly in the middle, exactly in balance. Understand that that is what everything is trying to do, come into perfect balance. Whenever you see any kind of chaos or trouble, see it as something that is looking for its peaceful middle. Be it a human being, an animal, a situation, a country, or a planet, the same cosmic law is at work’.

‘It is not for us to judge the path anyone else has chosen to walk. Remember, they who are angry, frustrated, disillusioned, or in places where they are killing, cheating and lying are already as divine as they will ever be; only they have not come into balance yet. Allow him to come into balance in his own way. But whether we take a thousand lifetimes or one to come into balance, we all will’.

 ‘Death is nothing. I’m not attached to this body. It is only a vehicle my soul needs to reach higher levels of consciousness and light. Human beings are all confused – without death, how will the deathless soul continue its journey?’

 

Which one did you agree with most?

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