Birthday Girl

Author: admin

Published in a special edition to honour Japanese master storyteller Haruki Murakami’s 70th birthday, Birthday Girl (Penguin; Rs 100; 42 pages) is a beguiling story with an open ending that grows on you. Deceptively simple on the surface, the story is open to many interpretations and conjectures as to what the protagonist wished for, compelling us to introspect on what we want out of life and the choices and decisions that have made or marred us. The contrast between the protagonist’s life in the beginning and the end couldn’t be sharper. While she is a lonely waitress at the start of the tale, with no social life and, therefore, willing to spend her birthday at work before making the wish, post it, she seems reasonably happy in life with a husband and children. However, the metaphor of the Audi car with dents signifies that life is far from being totally perfect, despite the magical wish she had been granted on her birthday. Though there are umpteen interpretations of what the wish could have been, the most common seems to be the wish to have no more wishes in life. This probably explains why the woman seems content despite having a far-from-perfect life. Translated from Japanese by Jay Rubin, this seemingly mundane tale with magical undertones was first published in 2006. The briskness at which the story unravels itself, the enigma of the wish, this is Murakami at his poetic best.

April 2019