It’s us: me, Mr. Murakami, and a bowl of watermelon sitting on the balcony in floors 39th of this too-much-white building.
He’s wearing his short khaki pants with white plain T-shirt, and bright blue sunglasses. It’s kind of weird seeing him with that bright color, but nice to know that he wants to wear that birthday present—when I actually bought that for a joke, don’t tell him that by the way. I’m wearing a watermelon hat (you know that kind of hat that made of watermelon if you cut them in half), well I am more a Hat Person than a Sunglasses Person when it comes to a sunny day. Also, it’s only-cold-watermelon-could-save-you kind of degree, so…
I took watermelon from the fridge right after I just arrived here (he always have watermelon in his fridge), and cut them into small squares, squeeze lemon on them, gets two forks and join him on the balcony. His wife went to the market about twenty minutes ago, she wants to cook us dinner, he told me that while I’m squeezing lemonade. We had to stay because he just finished his running routine around the neighborhood so he doesn’t feel like shopping vegetables, and I just came ten minutes ago. Mrs. Murakami must go through the back gate because if she took the front gate like I did, we would meet and I probably just go with her to the market.
But, it’s just another possibility that could happen to me this afternoon instead of this balcony scene.
I’m munching my fresh-taste-like-a-lemonade watermelon while watching a couple making out in the building in front of us. Mr. Murakami is reading Japanese newspaper that I don’t have a clue what they’re all about, because when I was in high school, my school decided German is more study-able than Japanese—which I have to disagree because I failed at it too. I noticed that it’s a newspaper from five years ago, but I don’t ask any questions. He’s probably doing some research.
After stretching a bit and yawn out of boredom, I ask Mr. Murakami a question, “Mr. Murakami, why we can’t just get what we want?” just like that, you just got to straight to the point if you want somebody’s attention. I’m still watching the couple next building—they are doing a robot dance, and I’m sure they are the worst dancers I’ve ever seen but, surely the happiest.
“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting,” he said that after put down his newspaper, then he took a fork that I prepared before, and put two pieces of watermelon inside his mouth. His facial expression says that I shouldn’t put lemonade in, but he says nothing so I guess he is fine with it.
“Why?”, I almost yell at him, but he knows that’s just the way I talk when people say something I wish he (or they) didn’t. “That’s just not fair, you know. If I seek for something, I want it to come in the way I expect it. Why would I want something to come to me in a different way than how I picture them in my head? I mean, there could be a misunderstanding then. And the last thing I want from my dreams is a misunderstanding.”
He remains calm, looking at my flat-almost-sad face, after that looking away to the sky. I bet he’s staring at that tiny airplane up there. It’s been a while and I wonder that his neck probably getting stiff. But as I’m about to sure that he falls asleep with that head position, he’s moving his neck toward me, take off his bright blue sunglasses and look at me in the eyes. I realize that he has a lot of wrinkles, and suddenly I think about Tengo—how he would stay young forever in 1Q84. It makes me sad somehow. I come back to reality when he says, “It is all a question of imagination. Our responsibility begins with the power to imagine. In dreams begin responsibilities.”
What he just said feels like big waves that hit your face abruptly while you’re playing with water excitedly.
Then we both quiet for a while—looking at I-don’t-know-what in front of us. I can hear those city sounds from the distance. The couple next building is not there anymore, I didn’t notice when they get inside. This is something I like about talking with a person who likes being busy with their mind. You have this pause in the middle of a conversation, because after some talk, it’s just kind of ritual to go back to your head and process what you’ve heard and re-think about what you said.
While still looking at the distance, he said, “This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to realize it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.”
“But, what if I don’t get there in time? What if I decided to be patient, instead of finding another way to get there shortly, I would lose something significant? What if, by doing things slowly, I end up taking too much time?”, I see the sky is changing colors as the sun begin to set. I can’t see the sun, these tall building everywhere blocking my view.
“Sometimes taking time is actually a shortcut.” he’s said that in such calmness. That must be something a human being gained with age. Suddenly, I feel this detached-from-this-surrounding kind of feeling. I’m taking a deep breath because I remember my friend said it could help us relax. I take some watermelon again, then take off my watermelon hat and put it on my lap.
The sound of door unlocked.
I look at the door, Mr. Murakami still staring at the distance. I see Mrs. Murakami is opening that front door with her right hand. I stand up, bring my watermelon hat with me and come to help her with the shopping bag on her left hand and of course give her hand with the dinner as well. Before I leave the balcony completely, I look back and said to Mr. Murakami, “You need to buy yourself a watermelon for tomorrow because I’ll finish everything after dinner”.