Five straight days she spent in front of the television, staring at crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways. She never said a word. Sunk deep in the cushions of the sofa, her mouth clamped shut, she wouldn’t answer when Komura spoke to her. She wouldn’t shake her head or nod. Komura could not be sure the sound of his voice was even getting through to her.
-Haruki Murakami, from “Ufo in Kashiro” in After the Quake
I thought it would be appropriate to end with this commonplace entry, considering we began the English 303: Advanced Expository Writing course by reading Haruki Murakami’s essay, “The Running Novelist.” Coincidentally, I finished After the Quake just before I began the course, which made his essay all the more interesting.
When natural disasters occur in other parts of the world, few people stop to think what is going through the minds of those who are forced to suffer the consequences; many are just happy it didn’t happen to them. In this passage, Murakami helps readers picture a victim of the disaster. She is in shock, and unsure of how to cope. She can’t even muster the words to talk to her own husband, Komura.
This is actually the first paragraph of the story. You don’t know what her name is or where she comes from; she could be anyone. Yet, you understand what she must be feeling.