The narrator, the protagonist of the novel Watanabe Tooru, recalls how at 37 he landed on an airplane in Germany. Of the onboard loudspeakers, the Beatles’ Norwegian wood was poured, and Watanabe felt dizzy with memories. “Even now, 18 years later, I can clearly imagine that field… The breeze ran across the field, slightly swept the girl’s hair and ran away into the copse.”
At that time Watanabe was in love. But now he remembered the picture of the landscape, and the girl’s face remembers with great difficulty. “Little cold hands, neatly combed straight hair, a gentle round earlobe, a small black mole right under it, a stylish coat of camel hair that she often wore in the winter, the habit of always looking in the face of the interlocutor, asking him about something, sometimes why a trembling voice. ” Every year, memories are less and less, and Watanabe is trying to restore as much as possible.
Naoko then asked for two things: “so that you understand that I’m truly grateful to you for coming here to meet me” and “so that you will remember me without fail.”
“She knew, of course, that she knew that someday her memories of her would fade in me… When I think about it, I feel unbearably sad, because she did not even love me.”
Watanabe recalls how 20 years ago he came to Tokyo to study and settled in a dormitory. He lived there from the spring of 1968 until the spring of 1970.
On the wall most often hung photos of naked girls and images of female singers and actresses. “Since there were some peasants in the rooms, there was usually a decent mess.” “Compared to them, my room was shining with cleanliness.” The reason was in the pathological cleanliness of my roommate. “Everyone called him” Fascist “or” stormtrooper “”. Watanabe studied dramaturgy, but not because of some goal or dream, but it was just necessary to do something.
A month after the beginning of life in Tokyo, Watanabe met Naoko at the station of Yetsuya. She lost weight, Watanabe seemed even more beautiful than before. Naoko offered to meet again, the guy agreed.
Watanabe met her thanks to his only friend Kizuki: Naoko was his girlfriend. They often walked together threesome. If Kizuki was away for a little while, then they had nothing to talk about with each other.
Kizuki died in the garage at home. “I hooked a rubber hose on the exhaust pipe of the N360, closed the window in the car with scotch tape and turned on the engine.”
After Kizuki’s death, Watanabe realized that death is not something separate from life, it’s part of it.
They began to meet with Naoko every week. Watanabe cheered the girl with stories about the Sturmovik.
Watanabe felt that she needed not him, but someone else’s hand for support.
He liked to read – not drinking, but with pleasure. On the basis of love for the “Great Gatsby” Fitzgerald, he met and became close with Nagasava.
Nagasawa was a personality so remarkable that I myself sometimes marveled at it – and at the same time remained a bad man by nature, but boasted of a subtle soul, and at the same time he sinned with incorrigible philistinism, he managed people and moved forward with optimism, but his heart was lashing in solitude convulsions at the bottom of a gloomy swamp, I immediately saw in it this contradiction and could not understand why the others do not see it from this side. “This person stood in his own way with one foot in hell.”
“… I never trusted him, and in this sense, my friendship with Nagasawa was completely different than with Kizuki.” Since Nagasawa, having drunk quite a bit, cruelly treated one girl, I decided that I would not trust this man, whatever happens. “
Together with Nagasava, they repeatedly took pictures of girls at night in the bar. Watanabe is devastated. He asked his friend if he did not feel the same. A friend said that he often feels hatred for himself. But it can not stop.
Nagasawa had a real friend – Hatsumi. “It was worth talking to her, and no one could remain indifferent.” There was something in her, calm, intelligent, with a sense of humor, benevolent, always exquisitely dressed. “I liked her so much that looking at her I thought: such a friend, certainly would not sleep with anyone horrible. “
“I’m not worthy of it,” Nagasawa said, and I fully agreed with him. “
Naoko was twenty. Watanabe came to congratulate her. At the end of the evening the girl burst into tears and began to sob. Watanabe tried to reassure her. He stayed overnight and, having slept with Naoko, was surprised to learn that this was the first time: Watanabe thought that she slept with Kizuki.
After that evening, Naoko disappeared. Watanabe wrote her letters to her parents. Finally the answer came. Naoko took an academic vacation at the institute, went to a sanatorium in the mountains of Kyoto, promised to meet with him, as will be ready.
Watanabe got a job.
In autumn the Sturmovik did not return to the hostel for some reason. Nobody knew anything about him.
Once in a cafe to Watanabe sat a girl with a short haircut, it turned out, classmate – Midori Kobayashi. She showed a keen interest in the young man. They agreed on a further meeting. But the girl did not come.
Midori came later. On a joint walk she showed her new friend her prestigious school. She told me how she hated her, how, out of stubbornness and unwillingness to yield to the school, she did not miss a single lesson during her studies. On Sunday Midori invited Watanabe to herself: she would cook a delicious dinner. Finding a house is easy: the family contains a bookstore.
Midori’s mother died of cancer two years ago, my father then told the girl and her sister: “It would be better if you died in pairs instead of your mother.” And he left for Uruguay as a colleague.
That evening, unexpectedly for himself, Watanabe kissed her. The girl said that she has a boyfriend. Her current ideas about love are very selfish: the lover must fulfill all her whims at the first call, even if Midori’s wishes will constantly change.
A letter came from Naoko. She considers herself guilty before Watanabe. Naoko recovered a little, got used to the sanatorium “Amire”. “If there is any pain in you, it’s not only yours, but mine… I’m an inferior person… If you despise me, then I will completely disappear.” The girl invites Watanabe to visit her.
Arriving in “Amir”, Watanabe met first with Naoko’s neighbor in Reiko’s room. “A strange woman.” There are a lot of wrinkles on her face, they are conspicuous, but they do not age her, but, on the contrary, emphasize the youth that is superior to any age. “These wrinkles face her as if they were lying there since birth. her wrinkles, she gets angry, and her wrinkles get angry… A woman is under forty, she’s not only pleasant, but also charming. “And she liked me at first sight.” Reiko Isida teaches music here, although she herself is a patient. From her, Watanabe learned that all the sick and staff are here on an equal footing, helping each other, doing some work: teaching music, French, knitting, etc. It is difficult to distinguish patients from doctors in appearance: sometimes the staff looks more abnormal than Patients.
In the evening he met with Naoko. Reiko played the guitar, they... talked. On the order of Naoko, Reiko played “Norwegian Wood” “The Beatles”. This song Naoko ordered, when it became unbearably sad. A friend of Watanabe at last frankly told about her love for Kizuki and about their relationship. They thoroughly knew each other’s bodies, but nothing happened with sex. They, like primitive savages, seem to have locked themselves into their world, and Watanabe became for them a connecting thread with the outside world.
Naoko burst into tears in the middle of the conversation. Reiko and Watanabe decided to take a walk. “The most important thing is not to lose heart… We need to unravel the problems, not hurrying up, one by one,” Reiko said. She told him her story. In her youth, Reiko was a very promising pianist. Before the next contest, the little finger stopped working. Doctors said that this is due to the psyche. She “led the roof”, twice treated in the hospital. After discharge she met her future husband, a noble and decent person who loved her, despite the problems with mental health. The period of their family life, home, life, daughter – the happiest time in the life of Reiko.
Once one of the neighbors persuaded Reiko to study music with her daughter. The girl is “angelically beautiful.” “I did not see such a beauty once before or since.. As I saw her, I was stunned… for a while… But what fear was hidden in, I did not know then. she has something creepy about her features. ” In the test lesson, the girl’s game, far from technical perfection, attracted Reiko. She began to study with the student. Six months later, the girl tried to seduce her. The student was a lesbian. Despite all the absurdity of the situation, Reiko realized, her body did not obey. She allowed the “thirteen-year-old fagot” to caress her, however, gathering strength, she hit the girl and said no more to come to her. After a while, neighbors started to hear rumors about Reiko’s past (treatment in a psychiatric hospital) and that she allegedly tried to seduce her student and beat her. Only Reiko’s husband supported her, but delayed with the move, and with his wife there was a third failure: she again landed in the hospital. Reiko insisted on divorce – for the sake of her future husband and child. The last seven years she was in “Amir”.
The next day, on a walk Naoko told Watanabe about her sister, just like Kizuki, who committed suicide at the age of 17. The sister was the first in everything, the best student, the cossack. Hanging sister Naoko discovered the first. Naoko thinks that somewhere in the past, the roots of her mental illness.
Watanabe promised to come again and returned to Tokyo.
The next day he met Midori. They drank vodka in a bar, Midori shared her perverted sexual fantasies about their relationship with Watanabe.
On Sunday, Watanabe and Midori went to the hospital to see her father. As it turned out, he has a brain tumor. Midori visited my father four times a week, nursed him, the other three days – a sister. Relatives did not help, sometimes they came to sympathize. Watanabe volunteered to sit with the sick man, suggested that Midori should be ventilated, distracted. Looking at the crocheted cucumber Watanabe, the girl’s father, who had no appetite, also wanted a cucumber.
Less than a week later, the father of Midori died.
Watanabe wrote a letter to Naoko. He yearned for her.
Watanabe injured his hand. Nagasawa passed exams at the Foreign Ministry and invited him to a restaurant with Hatsumi. After dinner, the girl refused to be escorted to Nagasawa’s home and Watanabe asked to do it. The two of them went to drink at the bar on Shibuya, then they played billiards. “Looking at her, I seem to understand why Nagasawa chose her as his special companion, and around the bulk of women it’s more beautiful than Hatsumi, and a man like Nagasawa could have gotten as many as he liked.” But something in her clung to the soul. strength is small, but the heart of a man can be stirred up. ” The wound of Watanabe began to bleed, and they went to Hatsumi to bandage her.
Watanabe advised Hatsumi to break with Nagasava: “He is not one of those who is happy with himself and with whom others are happy.” Beside him, you will only spoil your nerves. ” However, he was convinced of the depth and devotion of Hatsumi’s love: “How wonderful it is, how unconditionally someone to love.”
More Watanabe did not see her. Two years after Nagasawa’s departure abroad, she married, and two more later she opened her veins.
“I was informed of her death by none other than Nagasawa, who sent me a postcard from Bonn:” Something disappeared after Hatsumi’s death. Very sad and bitter. Even to me. “I tore it up and never wrote to him again.”
Finally Watanabe met with Midori. She left for a while from Tokyo. Together with Watanabe they drank, then went to a masochistic porn film on the initiative of the girl.
Midori persuaded her friend to spend the night with her: she is comfortable with his company, she needs care, because no one has ever loved or understood her. Watanabe goes with the girl to her house. Midori falls asleep, and Watanabe before dawn reads “Under the wheels” Hesse, then leaves for the hostel, leaving a note to her friend.
On his twentieth birthday, a letter came from Naoko and a gift: a sweater knitted by Naoko and Reiko.
Life in 1969 reminded Watanabe of the quagmire. In December, he went on vacation to Naoko. When Reiko was absent, engaged in oral sex: to traditional intimate relationships Naoko was still not ready physiologically and psychologically. Watanabe suggested that the girl live together when she gets better.
He moved from the hostel, settled in a new place. Reiko wrote that Naoko is temporarily transferred to a specialized hospital, there will be an intensive course of treatment. Watanabe lived as if in a fog for several days, then reconciled with Midori, but the girl was offended, seeing the suppressed state of a friend and his thoughts on another.
After a long period and numerous letters from Watanabe, Midori finally spoke to him. She broke up with her boyfriend, because Watanabe loves more. Watanabe also loves her and does not want to lose, but for now he needs time to sort things out.
Not daring to write about this Naoko, he communicates his feelings for Midori Reiko: “To Naoko I have an eerily quiet and pure tender feeling, to Midori – a feeling of a completely different kind.” It rose to its feet, strides, breathes and beats. ” Reiko asked not to tell Naoko yet.
After leaving the hospital, Naoko returned to Kyoto to a sanatorium, but the first night she hanged herself in the forest. Watanabe was shocked by the news, a month he traveled aimlessly with a backpack and sleeping bag until he spent all his money. Finally decided to return to reality. Soon after he returned to Tokyo, Reiko contacted him. A day later she came to Watanabe. They cooked together, Reiko played guitar the whole evening. At night they had sex for a long time.
Reiko went to Asahikawa – her acquaintance suggested there work related to music.
Finally, Watanabe called Midori: “I really need to talk to you. I have something to tell you… I do not need anyone else in this world except you.”