This must have been the first time in three or four years that I’ve left the window shutters next to my bed half open at night. Needless to say how surprised I am at the effect: it is not as dark and as scary at the other side of the window like I’ve always thought. Besides, the neighbors won’t mind seeing me running across my room in my pink pajama, because they probably won’t care to look anyway. (Which leads me to another question: Why do all of my neighbors always close their curtains, even during daytime?) Is it true then that we are the cause of our own misery, that we are the victims of our own fear and imagination?
‘Mein Geschäft ruht ganz auf meinen Schultern.’
‘I am totally responsible for my own business.’ – Franz Kafka, ‘My neighbour‘.
Moreover, I’m even more struck by being able to see the gleaming stars directly from my bed. I started having the idea of leaving my window’s shutters open when my parents took me with them on a short trip to the South of the country. The bread-and-breakfast where we overnighted happened to have no shutter on their windows, so I, instead of sleeping, laid there staring at the night sky with unblinking eyes, wondering if I’d also be able to see that many stars from my own bedroom at home. How long has it been since I last looked up at the sky at night to check on the stars? When did I take up the habit of closing the shutters at exactly 7pm everyday? Since when have I walked straight to the door eagerly every time I come home late, without lifting my head even once to admire the greatness of the universe?
So here I am, on my third night of leaving the window’s shutters half open. I could count six stars in total at the first night, two of which gleaming especially brightly. As I live in the city, where there are many street lights and lights from industrial zones, the number of the stars can’t be compared with the place where we went on vacation. Then there was even no star to be found at the second night! It was raining the whole day, and the clouds were already too tired after their long working day to move and give sight of the little stars. I was so happy to see them and at the same time afraid that they would disappear that I woke up several times at the first night to check if they were still there! Unlike what the main character in Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the shore‘ experienced:
‘Not just beautiful though–the stars like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me. What I’ve done up till now, what I’m going to do–they know it all. Nothing gets past their watchful eyes. As I sit there under the shining night sky, again a violent fear takes hold of me. My heart’s pounding a mile a minute, and I can barely breathe. All these millions of stars looking down on me, and I’ve never given them more than a passing thought before. Bot just stars–how many other things haven’t I noticed in the world, things I know nothing about? I suddenly feel helpless, completely powerless. And I know I’ll never outrun that awful feeling.’,
stars have the power to calm me down, put me at ease, and open for me the door to another dimension, something more abstract, more spiritual and that might surpass the perception that I have of my normal everyday life.
The day seems to grow a little bit longer each day as the summer approaches.
Then tomorrow, I’ll wake up under the sunlight
to discover that my little star has gone.
P/s: Hey Nhi! So this is your assignment (as a punishment for having your summer vacation one month sooner than I do!): Go home this summer, look at the night sky there, then tell me how many stars you can see (because I’ve also forgotten how it felt to be gazing at the sky from our hometown at night). Send them my greetings!