Dec 23
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“The cat was covered from nose to tailtip with clumps of dried mud, his fur stuck together in little balls, as if he had been rolling around on a filthy patch of ground for a long time. He purred with excitement as I picked him up and examined him all over. He might have been somewhat emaciated, but aside from that, he looked little different from when I had last seen him: face, body, fur. His eyes were clear, and he had no wounds. He certainly didn’t seem like a cat that had been missing for a year. It was more as if he had come home after a single night of carousing.
        I fed him on the veranda: a plateful of sliced mackerel that I had bought at the supermarket. He was obviously starved. He polished off the fish slices so quickly he would gag now and then and spit pieces back into the plate. I found the cat’s water dish under the sink and filled it to the brim. He came close to emptying it. Having accomplished this much, he started licking his mid-caked fur, but then, as if suddenly recalling that I was there, he climbed into my lap, curled up, and went to sleep.
        The cat slept with his forelegs tucked under his body, his face buried in his tail. He purred loudly at first, but that grew quieter, until he entered a state of complete and silent sleep, all defenses down. I sat in a sunny spot on the veranda, petting him gently so as not to wake him. I had not thought about the cat’s special soft, warm touch for a very long time. So much had been happening to me that I had all but forgotten that the cat had disappeared. Holding this soft, small living creature in my lap this way, though, and seeing how it slept with complete trust in me, I felt a warm rush in my chest. I put my hand on the cat’s chest and felt his heart beating. The pulse was faint and fast, but his heart, like mine, was ticking off the time allotted to his small body with all the restless earnestness of my own.
        Where had this cat been for a year? What had he been doing? Why had he chosen to come back now, all of a sudden? And where were the traces of the time he had lost? I wished I could ask him these questions. If only he could have answered me!”

—Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (New York: Vintage International ed., 1998), 377–78. (Thanks, Megan!)


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