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A Fine Day for Kangarooing

by Haruki Murakami
Translated by Christopher Allison

Inside the fence, there were four kangaroos: one male, two females, and one baby that had just been born.

In front of the fence, there was no one but her and I. It wasn't the most popular zoo around under any
circumstances, but to make matters worse, it was Monday morning. Animals outnumbered visitors by a fair

Our objective was, of course, the kangaroo baby. It didn't occur to us that we should look at anything else.
We had read in the local section of the newspaper that a kangaroo baby had been born about a month
before. So, for one month we had continued to await a morning suitable for going to see the new kangaroo.
One morning, it rained. The next morning, naturally, it continued to rain. Then, the next day after that, the
ground was too muddy, and for a couple more days an annoying wind was blowing. Then, she had a painful
cavity, and I had pressing business at the ward office.

A month had passed in such fashion.

Somehow, I had lost an entire month. When I tried to think of what had happened to it, I couldn't remember
a thing. I felt like I'd done a lot of things, but I also felt like I'd done nothing at all. Until the guy had come
around collecting for the newspaper at the end of the month, I didn't realize that a whole month had gone

But at last a good kangaroo-viewing morning arrived. We got up at six, opened the curtains, and confirmed
in an instant that it was a fine day for kangarooing. We washed our faces, finished breakfast, fed the cat,
did a little laundry and, putting on our sun visors, we went out.

"Hey, I wonder if the kangaroo baby is still alive," she asked me while we were on the train.

"Yeah, I think so. If it had died, there would have been a newspaper story or something."

"I bet it's sick and they took it to a hospital somewhere."

"That would have been in the newspaper, too."

"Maybe it's afflicted with neurosis."

"The baby?"

"Of course not. The mother. They probably have her locked up inside some dark room with her baby."

I'm always quite impressed by the range of possibilities that occurs to girls.

"I just have this feeling that if I let this chance escape, I won't be able to see a baby kangaroo ever again."

"You really think so?"

"Well, what about you? Have you ever seen a kangaroo baby before?" "No."
"Up to now, did you ever believe that you would see one?"

"I don't know. It had never really occurred to me."

"That's why I'm worried."

"But wait a minute," I protested. "While everything you 知 e said is true, I've never seen a giraffe being
born either, or a whale swimming in the ocean. Why is it that now only the baby kangaroo is a problem?"

"Because it's a baby kangaroo," she said.

I gave up, and glanced through the newspaper. I have yet to win a single discussion with a girl.

The kangaroo baby was, of course, still alive. He (or she) had grown much bigger than in the pictures in the
newspaper, and was hopping around energetically in the kangaroo enclosure. He wasn't so much a baby
anymore as a small kangaroo. This fact seemed to disappoint her a little.

"It's like it's not a baby anymore."

"It still looks like a baby," I reassured her.

"We should have come sooner."

I went to a small shop and bought chocolate ice cream, and when I came back she was still leaning on the
fence staring at the kangaroo.

"It's not a baby anymore," she repeated.

"Really?" I said, handing her an ice cream cone.

"If it was a baby, it would be in it's mother's pouch."

Nodding in acquiescence, I licked my ice cream.

"But it's not."

We spent a moment trying to discern which was the mother kangaroo. The father kangaroo we identified
immediately. He was by far the biggest and quietest kangaroo there. He had a talent for staring at the green
leaves in the feed box with an expression like a washed-up composer. The other two were females and had
almost the same build, were almost the same color, had almost the same expression. Which one was the
mother was no laughing matter.

"So, one of them is the mother, and one of them is not," I said.


"That being the case, which one is not the mother?"

I don't know, she said.

At any rate, the child of that inhospitable kangaroo was running all over the place, senselessly digging
holes in the ground here and there with it's front legs. He/she seemed to have a life that knew no boredom.
He ran around and around his father, gnawed on a little roughage, dug holes in the ground, reproved the
two female kangaroos, lay down on the ground, and then got up again and ran around some more.

"Why do kangaroos hop so quickly," she asked.

"To escape from their enemies."

"Enemies? What kind of enemies?"

"Humans," I said. "Humans kill kangaroos with boomerangs and eat their meat."

"Why do baby kangaroos get in their mothers・pouches?"

"So they can run away together. Babies can't run that fast."

"It's for protection?"

"Yeah," I said. "Everybody protects their young."

"How long are they protected for?"

I should have gotten all my information concerning kangaroos from an animal picture book. Then I would
have known everything from the start.

"Probably somewhere around one or two months."

"OK, so that one's still only one month old," she said, pointing at the baby kangaroo. "It must still get in its
mother's pouch."

"Yeah," I said. "Probably so."

"Wow. Wouldn't it be great to get in that pouch?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"I bet it would be just like returning to the womb."

"I wonder."

"Of course it is."

The sun had gotten really hot. You could hear the cheers of the kids playing in the nearby pool. Billowy
clouds floated in the summer sky.

"You want something to eat?" I asked her.

"A hotdog," she said. "And a Coke."

The hotdog vendor was a young college-age girl, and she had brought a boom box along with her inside the
wagon. I listened to songs by Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel while I waited for our hotdogs to cook.

When I returned to the kangaroo pen, she said "Look!" pointing at one of the female kangaroos.

"Look, it got in her pouch."

Sure enough, the baby was tucked away in its mother's pouch. The stomach pouch was pretty swollen, and
just its little pointy ears and the tip of its tail poked out from the top.

"I wonder if he's heavy."

"Kangaroos are strong."


"Which is why they've been able to survive this long."

The mother kangaroo, standing in that blistering sunlight didn't have a single drop of sweat on her. She
reminded me of a mother going to pick up the groceries at a supermarket on Aoyama-dori, and then
stopping by the coffee shop for a quick break.

"Because they look after their young?"


"I wonder if he's sleeping."

We ate our hotdogs, drank our Cokes, and hung out in front of the kangaroo cage. When it came time to
leave, the father kangaroo was still searching around in the feed box for a lost note. The mother kangaroo
and the baby rested their bodies together as one, and that mysterious other female kangaroo hopped around
in the center of the cage as if she was testing the condition of her tail.

It was the hottest day we had had in a long time. "Hey, you wanna go drink beer?" she said.

"Great," I said.