A breahtaking story set in Malaysia. Parvathi, the main female character, leaves her native Ceylon for Malaysia in order to marry a rich businessman as part of an arranged marriage. But her father has cheated, providing her future husband with another woman’s photograph, so when finally face to face, Kasu Marimuthu is angry and threatens with sending her back to her family in disgrace. Slowly though, husband and wife get used to one another and the naive girl becomes a sophisticated mistress of the luxurious, misterious, mystical and out of this world place – Adari – ‘Remember I told you that you have arrived on one of earth’s few power spots? This here is the centre. Time as you know it does not exist. Here, eternity can be found in a moment or it can pass so fast it is gone in the blink of an eye. And though you may have relinquished your great dream for the moment, you have actually come here to seek that which is to be, and so, cannot leave until you behold what you have come for’. Parvathi even adopts her husband’s love child, Rubini, and treats her as her own daughter, a genrous act that is later rewarded by a long wished for child, a son. But it is a life without passion and Parvathi dreams of a great love, with complete abandon: ‘And even more incomprehensible, she had not been praying for a good husband and family but for the greatest love in the world, for one who would unthinkingly put his hand into fire for her. One that would die for her.’ When the Japanese invade Malaysia in World War II they take the Adari estate from her. Her husband dies and Parvathi is compelled to accept the protection of the Japanese General who has robbed her of her home. It is love at first sight. For the first time she experiences sexual ecstasy. And step by step her enemy becomes the lover she has always longed for…
The Japanese Lover was the 3rd book I read written by Rani Manicka. The first one I read upon which I stumbled accidentaly was The Rice Mother…amazing book! I have no words to describe it (I must review it in a future post), it just got stuck on my mind, in my heart.
The Japanese Lover is different, it doesn’t compare to the first one either, but it is a good reading piece! For quite some time now I have enjoyed reading books whose plot, characters and stories are set in a world or country far away from mine, within a culture as different as possible from mine. That is because I have an unsatiable thirst for knowledge. I like finding out about new countries, new cultures, new languages, exotic places! When I read I live and travel with my characters. I become the characters…that is how my universe of knowledge expands, how I evolve, how I become a better person, more open-minded.
After reading this book I also read both some reviews and comments and the conclusion I reached was that I was very disappointed. Don’t get me wrong! Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and maybe not liking the book and giving negative feedback, with arguments of course, is also a matter of taste. Fair enough! But criticizing a book you only read half or even less…that is something I cannot accept! That is extremely disappointing! I was surprised in a very unpleasant way by the fact that so many people rated the book with 1 * only while at the same time stating they only read half or a few lines or that their bookcase is full with half read books or that they are glad they didn’t waste money buying this book. Really? Didn’t your parents or teachers teach you 2 essential things? One: There is always something to learn from any book you read. Two: You are not entitled to criticize a book or any written piece as a matter of fact without having fully read it yourself!
Now, as I like doing with all the books I read, I am going to post some quotes from The Japanese Lover – things I learned from this book – which hopefully will make you give it a try and if you still think the same, namely that reading this book is a waste of time, then you are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine :).
P.S. In some of the comments I read, a few people were wondering what is with the Japanese woman on the bookcover. They didn’t understand how that image is in any way related to the story. Parvathi is from Ceylon, not Japan and her lover, the Japanese General, is a man of course, not a woman. Well, if you had read the whole book you would have known that there is a chapter called ‘The Kimono’. In this chapter, the reader finds out that the Japanese General brings a very special gift to Parvathi – a kimono. Not only does he dress her up, but he also does her hair and makeup, exactly as a geisha.
‘The mirror. Oh, but this woman was not her! She stared at herself with astonishment. Look at her, all tied up. The white face and neck that seemed to come out of the dark were that of a doll or a butterfly woman, remote, aloof, mysterious and yet enormously eoritc. A fantasy created to drive a king or a great warrior mad with desire. This woman knew how to snuggle up intimately, but never lose her head or her heart. He had purposely misrepresented her but she liked it, and understood that this seductive creature was made only for the darkness or uncertain light’. ‘…Hidden beneath the sumptuous finery she could pretend all kinds of things. After all, this time was without repercussions…’. ‘Sakura’.
Now my beloved quotes :). Most of them belong to Maya, my favourite female character in the book.
‘Our past often fills us with loathing at the thought of what we were, have been, and what we suspect still remains in us, but these people cannot be held by our morality, for morality is not fixed and equal at all times. For the moment our new higher, more refined culture decries sacrifices as cruel and inhuman, but these earlier civilisations had a different concept of energy. They knew the soul was indestructible. So there was no real sacrifice involved. All that was being offered was the wilingness to give up the mortal body. Abraham’s apparent willingness to sacrifice his own son was enough, but Jesus had to offer His body on a cross’.
‘It was an ancient belief that during a total eclipse, in those few minutes when the world is dark, a tunnel, or a sacred pathway opens, and a rare and powerful opportunity to communicate with the gods is possible. But the times when the tunnel is open to the gods is also a time when demons plunge head down through the same tunnel. They have to be fed. Sacrifice was an exchange of energy. For profound connection they gave life force. So consumed were they in the flames of their faith they would have given their own flesh and blood if necessary, and often did. But as time went by people forgot the true menaing of sacrifice and began to offer what was not important to them, ten fatted goats, their neighbour’s daughter, the hearts of their enemies. And as this lack of commitment and fidelity in our ways of welcoming God changed, so also our ability to meet our Maker as they did’.
‘…they have been incarnated into a certain race to experience all the lessons and opportunities that that race offers. So if they want to marry inside that race and have children of that race, who are you to tell them otherwise?Shall I accuse them of being racist because they don’t want to leave their race for mine? Leave them be. Why ruin their illusions of superiority? By resorting to prejudice they reveal their lack of confidence in their own worth. Wish them well. It is not for you to judge. Don’t do what they do. Don’t look for differences. Look for the similarities’.
‘To encounter divinity in all His fullness would be impossible for man, so he sees a light, a burning bush, an angel, an apparition on a cross, and he calls it God. But with the usual arrogance of man, he then starts believing that that small part he has taken is the All. The carved stone is a symbol. Anything you worship can become God because God exists in every living and dead thing you see. He is everywhere and in everything. If one believed enough in a piece of rock, that rock will one day open its eyes, and show the God that lives in it. It doesn’t matter if one decided to worship a stone, a man, a tree, or a snake. Believe and it will be.’
‘God will manifest Himself to you in whatever form will fill your eyes with tenderness. What difference to God if it is a dying man on a cross or a serpent that is used to remind his devotee of Him? It is important only to love Him with all your heart. True, He will never appear as a serpent to a Christian, but He will come to you thus’.
‘I can’t see into the future. Nobody can for certain. Nothing is set. No one can say for sure. We Asians are too fatalistic with our fortune-tellers and sighs of “But it’s all fated”. The future is a set of probabilities. Every moment we are changing the future with our thoughts, choices and deeds. In fact, there are ways even to change the past if one knows how to. Even the smallest change in a person can have big ripples in his future, and sometimes the entire future of mankind can be changed by one small decision by a single person in one tiny part of the world’.
‘It is difficult to grasp, but everything is already perfect. You see, the universe is made up of only three forces, positive, negative and balance. When does peace come to a pendulum? When it stops swinging either way, and stays exactly in the middle, exactly in balance. Understand that that is what everything is trying to do, come into perfect balance. Whenever you see any kind of chaos or trouble, see it as something that is looking for its peaceful middle. Be it a human being, an animal, a situation, a country, or a planet, the same cosmic law is at work’.
‘It is not for us to judge the path anyone else has chosen to walk. Remember, they who are angry, frustrated, disillusioned, or in places where they are killing, cheating and lying are already as divine as they will ever be; only they have not come into balance yet. Allow him to come into balance in his own way. But whether we take a thousand lifetimes or one to come into balance, we all will’.
‘The human race is conditioned to sit in judgement, universal laws do not. A law is a law. Does gravity differentiate between a criminal and a saint? All sacred symbols are governed by universal cosmic laws; they are there to all who seek them, and will lend their power equally to heal or destroy.’
‘There is an ancient story about an evil king who performed unfailing penance for many hundreds of years until eventually Lord Shiva appeared before him and granted him a boon, anything he wanted – wealth, power, immortality…But from the Great Destroyer God, the King needed only one thing – the power to turn to ashes everything he touched! To test his new power, the King expressed the desire to touch his benefactor’s head. What could Shiva do but turn and run, with the King in hot pursuit. Watching from the heavens, Vishnu, The Preserver, turned himself into an irresistibly beautiful woman and appeared on the path of the King. It was love at first sight. “Marry me”, he cried. “Swear it upon your head”, said the siren coyly, and in a great unthinking rush the King touched his head and turned to ashes. The figures are of course, allegorical, but Shiva is a force, that can no more deny an evil king than he can a saint who has performed the same penance’.
‘For us there is always the law of karma, another fine example of a law that shows no discrimination. All actions have consequences. Let them beware. Misuse always brings ashes. …Dark always serves the light. …One day men will do the right thing, without caring for the consequences to themselves, and that day we will all become free again. …For we are all one, all invisibly but inseparably connected, and as long as there is even one person who is lost, so are we all’.
‘Yes, in my country white is revered, but I have since learned that a flower is no less beautiful because it is standing in the shade’.
‘Because they fall, we love them’. ‘Women?’ she had hazarded. ‘Cherry blossoms’.
‘Death is nothing. I’m not attached to this body. It is only a vehicle my soul needs to reach higher levels of consciousness and light. Human beings are all confused – without death, how will the deathless soul continue its journey?’
‘A woman’s beauty must be judged by the men she destroys’.
‘Each of us have come to this earth with a few pieces to a jigsaw puzzle as big as this universe. Each time we meet someone, we unconsciously show them our pieces to see if they have pieces that will fit ours. If they don’t they go their way, and we have no more to do with them. But if they do, ah…that is when the attraction, hate, jealousy, love, heartaches and lessons begin’.
‘There is nothing in this place of decay that can or will last. Even stones will crumble to dust. Everything changes. The trick is to immerse oneself completely in the moment, live it, and when it goes, to have not an ounce of regret or a backward glance. To know it will go and not mourn for it. To let it be’.
‘Love is a splendorous thing. We come again and again to taste its glory, and too often we forget that we are just passing through. Nothing can last for ever. Tragedies will come to knock on all our doors, but the successful remember it is only a guest. Even jagged glass will not cut if you don’t travel right to its edge. Love, any love, no matter how long it lasts, is a gift’.
‘…the marvellous must co-exist with the ordinary. It is the way of all manmade religions. As divinity passes through human consciousness some of it gets stained by earthly memories, customs, beliefs, and the deepest desires of its founders so that it becomes half-myth and half-truth. A desert religion’s heaven will speak of trees, cool shade, and the delicious sound of running water. a Heaven founded by a prince who gave it all up to be a beggar will naturally be entirely ecrusted with precious gems. A race of dark people will come upon a blue-skinned god, and a white people will find theirs in a blue-eyed god. It is this taint of personal egoism that makes all religions divisive in nature, but the essence is still the same. Again and again, every religion says: I am God, I exist. Here is yet another of My faces. … You are not God’s little slave. You are God’.
‘We are all connected. Whenever you see a tragedy that has happened to another, take it as it has happened to you. For we are all cells of the same body. Know that not a single cell in your body can diw without the express permission of the entire body’.
I think it is time I stopped here, otherwise I will have quoted the entire book without realizing. 🙂 I know I wrote many quotes but believe me there are still many more left that are worth discovering!