Pachinko, a story about a family generation after generation, who try to live life navigating through hardships, war, poverty, racism and all the cruel things that the world had to offer during their respective times, but still managed to find and eventually lose love yet still pushed forward to do better, to give better.
To tell the storyline in a sentence, it’s a simple life story about Korean immigrants to Japan during dire times. But that’s not as simple, as this story touches lives of each and everyone in the family, their hardship, their love, their strength and eventually their weakness that just gets you pinned down until you read the last word in the book.
The journey of a family to find Home, a place or a person that they could belong with starts from Hoonie in Yengdo, Busan and Lee takes us from Korea to Japan in a span of few years and drags us to experience the ugliness of war, poverty and racism that she and her family has to go through in order to survive, to experience the lives of those who have been overlooked or cast aside in those cruel times. She made us realize through her words that every story during those times, no matter where was worth telling.
As I kept reading the book, I couldn’t figure out why the book was named Pachinko. It didn’t have a significant role in the story except one of the characters working and eventually running a Pachinko parlor, but after finishing the story, it made me wonder, was the Pachinko a metaphor for the lives of the characters Lee created? Because each one of her characters made some kind of gamble to survive or to belong. It was either a gamble of getting married or moving to another country or choosing their education over their sense of self or making the choice of giving up eventually, they all made a gamble of some sorts. Which I think is more fitting title than anything else.
The beauty of the story as a whole is that there are no main characters in the story. They are all main characters, they all have a story to tell and I wanted to listen to each and every one of them.
A beautiful read if knowing about people interests you.
For the ones who says Reality is not the way it is in one of my fantasy books, Reality sucks, the World is cruel and Life is merciless, I say, “I KNOW” I have seen both reality and the fantasy, I know the difference. DO YOU?
For the ones who says, Love is not eternal and it is not running around a meadow, making promises and bursting into love song every five minutes, I say “I KNOW”. Love is understanding, it’s sacrifice, it’s keep going on despite the pain, it’s holding on to each other when times are good and holding each other closer when times get tougher, it is tearing each others throat a minute and crying in each others arms the next, it is fights that threaten to break you, but the care that hurries to mend it, it is the battle between the anger and care, where after all the anger, the care still remains, it is knowing the reason behind your tears and the lie behind your smile, it is the “I am there, be strong”s and silent hugs when words mean nothing, it is catching you when you fall and carry you when you have no strength left and walking beside you in silence that speaks a thousand love poems, it is saying I love you in every possible way without actually saying “I Love You”. and for those who says that kinda love doesn’t exists, I say, “YOU ARE WRONG”. Because, That’s the way I LOVE and I strongly believe I am not the only one.
For those who mock the way I love, I say, “I DON”T CARE” I know how I love, it’s my job to show it, it’s not my job to prove it. If you can’t feel my love or realise to the extent I was willing to go for the ones I love, I am Sorry you didn’t know.
For those who make me guilty for the smallest disappointment I make, I say “I AM SORRY I AM NOT PERFECT”. I may not be perfect or even good enough for you to realise my Love, but someday, I am going to be perfect for someone, flaws and all. And if that doesn’t happen either, well I am still going to Love the way I always do.
For those who ask me, what are you even depressed about, I say, “EVERYTHING AND NOTHING”. I am not going to apologise for feeling depressed, I don’t function the way you do. I have my own healing process and I am not going to apologise for you not understanding. If you could live in my head for a day, you would explode, the same way I might explode if I am in your head, because healing process is not a template.
For those who don’t understand any of the above, I say, “I AM SORRY” I wasted your time.
There I was, sitting on a steel bench, where I could see the full view of the ocean and waves can touch only my toes. I was sitting there looking at the ocean wondering what lay beyond the ocean and inside me.
Slowly cold spread through the bench i was sitting on and the stars started twinkling their eyes and slowly started playing hide and seek behind the clouds. Slowly the moon started shining above my head and I could feel the the breeze on my face growing colder and colder and suddenly the stars and the moon go hide behind the darkening clouds and darkness was surrounding me inside and out. The waves are trying to touch my toes for a long time.
Realising the dark, I stopped wondering what lay beyond and inside and started wondering what’s happening above. The moment I looked up a rain drop thudded on my eyes. The rain started to pouring down harder and harder and I felt the rain drenching my hair and droplets of water dripping from the tip of hair and from the tips of my fingers. I still haven’t moved an inch. I felt that rain was washing away my sins and sorrows.
I waited for the rain to do its job. When it has poured to its contend, it stopped raining. The deafening sounds of rain drops thudding on the water surface has finally stopped. The place was dark and silent but for the gentle and rhyming rhythm of the waves. I felt cleansed of all bad things. I can’t decipher if I am frozen to the cold bench or it was just an impulse. I felt pure. I wanted to leave, but something was still missing. I waited for it to find me, Then slowly, like a kid touching a puppy for the first time, a wave hesitantly touched the tips of my toes and ran away shyly.
I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of god and nature. I stood up turned around and started slowly towards the beach. My feet sinking in the soft beach sand for every step i took.
I reached the streets, it was flooded with light. I went to street surrounding me inside and out. Even though I was drenched and was freezing cold, I felt warmth spreading inside and out, making me glow inside and out.
ALL WAS WELL