CONTENTSMap of the Tokyo Subway
Nobody was dealing with things calmly
I’ve been here since I first joined
At that point Takahashi was still alive
I’m not a sarin victim, I’m a survivor
It’s not even whether or not to take the subway, just to go out walking scares me now
The day after the gas attack, I asked my wife for a divorce
Luckily I was dozing off
Everyone loves a scandal
I felt like I was watching a program on TV
Looking back, it all started because the bus was two minutes early
That day and that day only I took the first door
If I hadn’t been there, somebody else would have picked up the packets
I was in pain, yet I still bought my milk as usual
The night before the gas attack, the family was saying over dinner, “My, how lucky we are”
“What can that be?” I thought
I knew it was sarin
“What if you never see your grandchild’s face?”
I had some knowledge of sarin
I kept shouting, “Please, please, please!” in Japanese
That kind of fright is something you never forget
(Departing: Kita-senju; Destination: Naka-meguro)
I’d borrowed the down payment, and my wife was expecting—it looked pretty bad
In a situation like that the emergency services aren’t much help at all
Ride the trains every day and you know what’s regular air
: Hibiya Line
Some crazy’s probably sprinkled pesticides or something
We’ll never make it. If we wait for the ambulance we’re done for
It’d be pathetic to die like this
The day of the gas attack was my sixty-fifth birthday
I saw his face and thought: “I’ve seen this character somewhere”
Yoshiko Wada, widow of Eiji Wada:
He was such a kind person. He seemed to get even kinder before he died
He was an undemanding child
Dr. Toru Saito:
The very first thing that came to mind was poison gas—cyanide or sarin
Dr. Nobuo Yanagisawa:
There is no prompt and efficient system in Japan for dealing with a major catastrophe
THE PLACE THAT WAS PROMISED
I’m still in hum
Nostradamus had a great influence on my generation
Each individual has his own image of the Master
This was like an experiment using human beings
In my previous life I was a man
Shin’ichi Hosoi: “
If I stay here,” I thought, “I’m going to die”
Asahara tried to force me to have sex with him
No matter how grotesque a figure Asahara appears, I can’t just dismiss him
About the Author
Other Books By This Author
Also By Haruki Murakami
Map of the Tokyo subway showing the lines targeted in the gas attack, Monday March 20, 1995
*Leafing through a magazine one afternoon, I found myself looking at the readers’ letters page. I really don’t remember why; I just probably had time on my hands. I rarely ever pick up
Ladies’ Home Journal
or the like, much less read the letters page.
However, one of the letters caught my attention. It was from a woman whose husband had lost his job because of the Tokyo gas attack. A subway commuter, he had been unfortunate enough to be on his way to work in one of the cars in which the sarin gas was released.
He passed out and was taken to hospital. But even after several days’ recuperation, the aftereffects lingered on, and he couldn’t get himself back into the working routine. At first, he was tolerated, but as time went on his boss and colleagues began to make snide remarks. Unable to bear the icy atmosphere any longer, feeling almost forced out, he resigned.
The magazine has since disappeared, so I can’t quote the letter exactly, but that was more or less what it said. As far as I can recall, there was nothing particularly plaintive about it, nor was it an angry rant. If anything, it was barely audible, a grumble under the breath.
“How on earth did this happen to us … ?” she wonders, still unable to accept what had out of the blue befallen her family.
The letter shocked me. Here were people who still carried serious psychological scars. I felt sorry, truly sorry, although I knew that for the couple involved my sympathy was irrelevant. And yet, what else could I do?
Like most people, I’m sure, I simply turned the page with a sigh.
But sometime later I found myself thinking about the letter. That “How on earth … ?” stuck in my head like a big question mark. As if it weren’t enough to be the victim of purely random violence, the man had suffered “secondary victimization” (everyday corporate violence of the most pervasive kind). Why could nobody do anything about it? That’s when I began to piece together a very different picture.
Whatever the reason, his colleagues had singled out this young salaryman—“Hey, there’s the guy from that weird attack”—it couldn’t have made any sense to him. He was probably quite unaware of their “them-and-us” attitude. Appearances were deceptive. He would have considered himself a dyed-in-the-wool Japanese like everyone else.