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The Girl from Ipanema, 1963/1982 by Haruki Murakami translate by brian !

ilson

{It begins with the lyrics of the Getz/Gilberto song,} Tall and tan and young and lovely.... {and continues like this.}

In !"# the girl fro$ I%ane$a watched the sea in this way. &nd now, the girl fro$ I%ane$a in !'( watches the sea in the sa$e way. )he has not got older since then. )he is confined in an i$age and floating in the sea of ti$e. If she had beco$e older, she would now be al$ost forty years old.

*f course it+s %ossible that she is not so old, but she $ight not be so slender and so tanned as she used to be. )he $ight have three children. )unburn is not good for the skin. )he $ight still be called a beauty, but not so youthful as she was twenty years ago.

,ut in the song she does not get old. )he is always an eighteen-years-old cool and kind I%ane$a girl on the velvety sound of )tan Getz+ tenor sa.o%hone. &s soon as I %ut on the record on the turntable and dro% the stylus on the record, she a%%ears.

/very ti$e I listen to this song, I re$e$ber the corridor of $y high school building. The dark and a little da$% high school corridor. The ceiling is high and when I walk on the concrete floor, the sound of $y ste%s echoed. There are so$e windows on the northside wall, but little sunlight co$es in because the building is 0ust at the foot of a stee% hill. It is always still in the corridor, at least in $y $e$ory.

1hy I re$e$ber the corridor every ti$e I hear 2The Girl 3ro$ I%ane$a2, I don+t know. There+s no cause and effect. 1hat kind of %ebble did the Girl fro$ I%ane$a !"# dro%%ed into $y well of consciousness4

&nd the corridor of the highschool building re$inds $e of a salad consisting of lettuce, to$ato, cucu$ber, green%e%%er, as%aragus, onion, and %ink Thousand Island dressing. *f course there+s no salad sho% at the end of the corridor. &t the end of the corridor is a door and outside is an ordinary (5 $eter swi$$ing %ool.

1hy the corridor re$inds $e of the salad, I don+t know. There+s no cause and effect here, either. The two connected in $y $ind by so$e accident or other. 6ust like an unlucky lady who sat on a freshly %ainted bench.

The salad re$inds $e of a girl I used to know. There+s a clear connection here. The girl was always eating salad.

27ave you 8crunch, crunch9 finished 8crunch, crunch9 the %a%er for the /nglish class42

28:runch, crunch9 not yet, 8crunch, crunch9 a little 8crunch, crunch9 left undone.2

I $yself liked vegetables and every ti$e we $et, we ate salad like this. )he was a wo$an of very strong $ind, and believed that everything would go well if she ate various vegetables. If %eo%le ke%t on eating vegetables, the world would be %eaceful, beautiful, healthy and full of love. )o$ething like

2)trawberry )tate$ent.2

2*nce u%on a ti$e,2 a %hiloso%her wrote 2there was a ti$e when $atters and $e$ories were divided by a $eta%hysical de%th.2

The Girl fro$ I%ane$a in !"#/ !'( is walking on a $eta%ysically hot sandbeach without $aking any sound. It is a very long beach and slow white waves are washing it. ;o breeze. ;othing on the horizon. I can s$ell the sea. The hot sun scorches $e.

I lie under the beach u$brella and %ull out a canned beer fro$ the coolbo. and o%en it. )he is still walking. *n her tall and tan body are the bikinis in bright color.

27i,2 I %luck u% $y courage and say to her. 27i,2 she answers.

27ow about a beer42 I offer.

)he hesitates a little. ,ut after walking a lot, she $ust be tired and thirsty. 2Good,2 she says. &nd we drink beer together under the beach u$brella.

2,y the way,2 I say 2I+$ sure I saw you in !"# in the sa$e %lace at the sa$e ti$e.2

2It was a long ti$e ago, wasn+t it42 she says tilting her head a little.

2<es, it was,2 I say 2=ust have been a long ti$e ago.2

)he drinks a half of the beer in one go and looks at the o%ening. The o%ening is an ordinary o%ening of a beer can. ,ut when she looks at it, it see$s to $e it is so$ething significant. It looks as if it $ight contain the whole world.

21e $ight have $et. In !"#4 >$$ !"#. <es, we $ight have $et each other.2

2<ou haven+t get older since then, haven+t you42

2That+s because I+$ a $eta%hysical girl.2

I nodded. 2)ince you were always watching the sea, I+$ sure you didn+t notice $e.2

2That $ight have been the case.2 she said and s$iled. & beautiful s$ile with a little hint of sadness. 2I $ight have been always watching the sea. I $ight have been watching nothing but the sea.2

I o%ened a can of beer for $yself, and then offered one to her. ,ut she shook her head and said she couldn+t drink so $uch beer. 2Thank you. ,ut I have to kee% on walking fro$ now on 0ust as I have been,2 she said.

2?on+t you feel hot at the sole of your feet walking on the sand for such a long ti$e42

2;o, because $y soles are $ade very $eta%hysically. 1anna look at the$42

2<es.2

)he stretched her slender legs out and showed the soles to $e. <es, they were really $eta%hysical soles. I softly touched the$. They are neither hot nor cold. 1hen I touched her soles, I heard faint sound of waves. /ven the sound of waves are very $eta%hysical.

I ke%t $y eyes closed for a while and o%ened the$ and took a si% of cold beer. The sun didn+t $ove at all. /ven the ti$e stood still. It+s as if I was drawn into a $irror.

2/very ti$e I think of you, I always re$e$ber the corridors of $y high school building. 1hy do you think I do4 2 I ventured to say.

2The essence of hu$anity lies in its being a co$%ound,2 she says 2The hu$an science should not try to e.%lore the ob0ect but the sub0ect that is involved in the body,2

27u$$$.2 I say.

2&nyway, go on living. @ive. @ive. That+s all. It is i$%ortant that you should go on living. That is all I can say. I+$ only a girl with $eta%hysical soles.2

&nd the Girl 3ro$ I%ane$a in !"#/ !'( brushed the sand off her thighs and stood u%. 2Thanks for the beer.2 she says. &nd I say, 2<ou are welco$e.2

*nly occasionally, I see her in subway trains. I know her and she knows $e. /very ti$e we $eet, she gives $e a thank-you-for-the beer s$ile. 1e haven+t e.changed words since then, but I feel that we are connected so$ewhere at our hearts. I don+t know where we are connected, but I+$ sure the knot is so$ewhere in a strange distant world.

I i$agine the knot. The knot lies silently in the dark corridor where no one walks along. 1hen I a$ thinking in this way, $any dear old $e$ories gradually return to $y $ind. There $ust be a knot that connects $e and $yself. I+$ sure so$eday I will $eet $yself in the strange distant world. &nd I wish it was a war$ %lace. &nd if there was so$e cold beer, I would have nothing to co$%lain. In the world I a$ $yself and $yself is $e. The sub0ect is the ob0ect and the ob0ect is the sub0ect. There is no

o%ening of any kind between the two. They are closely stuck together. )uch a strange %lace $ust e.ist so$ewhere in the world.

The Girl fro$ I%ane$a in !"#/ !'( is still walking on the hot sand beach. >ntil the last one of the records is worn out, she kee%s on walking without any break