When you promise to love a person ’till death do us part’, how would you interpret that phrase?
If it was up to the selfish romantic side of me, I may have wanted my partner to love me even after I am long gone, as I would so too. However, many of us would reckon that belongs to fantasy and that reality was much different and impossible.
Of course, there would be the occasional real-life story that made it to the silver screen, where storytellers would exaggerate much more so that they could earn your tears and ticket money.
When I received this book for review, I was excited for a new story and its fairytale ending. It was only when I flipped to page two when my muscle jerked and a cold shiver of realisation ran through my spine that the book was no movie fiction but someone’s reality — and the haunting fact that there would not be an ending that would lead to the credits rolling an Ed Sheeran song.
About the story
The book tells the journey of the author, Wesley, to meet with Mr. Takamatsu as he recounts his story of looking for his wife, Yuko. Yuko was swept away by the Tsunami had hit Onagawa, Japan.
Finding Yuko through all that post Tsunami dread was a promise he kept to his wife — She wanted to go home. That one last SMS he received from her led him spending very much the rest of his life, determined to find her.
Through Wesley’s encounters with Mr. Takamatsu, he documented Mr. Takamatsu’s life-long mission as well as his own reflections through Mr. Takamatsu’s experiences.
What I thought about the book
Honestly, my mood quickly turned solemn for a few days after I completed the book. My emotions were pretty overwhelmed and I had to let myself settle for a few days before I could come back to this book and try to review it myself.
Through the humble 110 pages of literature (English side), I felt some ways connected to the various emotions described in Wesley’s words. I felt transported back to the day when my cousin overlooked the ground zero in NYC, where she had lost one of her best friend in the 911 incident.
Those emotions and her eyes spoke volumes, and those were the same when Mr. Takamatsu took a long pause to answer Wesley’s question on what message would he like to pass to Yuko, if he could?
Mr. Takamatsu’s long pause before he took to answer, “I just want to tell her that we are all doing fine. Our family is doing fine. And I would ask her where she is.”
That was one of the most haunting moments to me; and in reflections, the amount of his love towards his wife.
Like I had mentioned, I at times could be hopelessly romantic — in reality, I doubt I could be as dedicated as Mr. Takamatsu. His efforts may be seen as an effort to bring his wife home as a form of closure to the tragedy his family went through but nevertheless, he was the living reality of what some tragic romance novels concept sells, the ideals of eternal love.
I shall not go mushy on the romantics because the salient point in this book was the cruelty of nature and the determination of human beings. Mother nature can nurture and destroy as she wishes without batting an eyelid, and yet us, human, resilient we are, continue to seek forth, heal and continue living.
The Tsunami tore apart many families and took away so many lives, and yet, the ocean was unforgiving and it seemed to taunt Mr. Takamatsu’s effort. The eerily green depths of murky water was the proof of it all.
It made me think about how fortunate I am to live in a country with close to zero natural disasters and that Singapore is well protected by our neighbouring countries. I do not have to fear my house would be flooded and that the roof would be blown away by hurricanes.
Reflecting from the recent Hurricane Irma, islands in Carribean were so heavily hit that the destructions would take years to recover, leaving islanders without clean water, electricity and a proper place to live.
As the places been brutality slapped by Nature continue to recover, they may never be the same again — and for many of the affected families, lives were completely altered overnight. And they, with faith, continue on.
As for me, I continue to count my blessings.
This isn’t a fiction book or a feel-good story that could be slated for a rom-com movie. However, it is definitely one book to read to understand the fragility of life and reflect our own lives through the author’s journey and Mr. Takamatsu’s life-long promise.
Nevertheless, it is one book that would allow you to ponder and reflect upon our lives, as I did.
Did I mention that this book was written by a Singaporean? Yes, author Wesley Leon Aroozoo is a lecturer from LASALLE College of the Arts and he is also a filmmaker.
‘I want to go home’ has been made into a filmed and it recently had its World Premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea.
His book is available for purchase here:
And here is a trailer preview of the film:
More stories soon,
Special thanks to Author Wesley Leon Aroozoo for the gift of this book!
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