Underground: The Story of Tokyo Gas attack by Haruki Murakami


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My Rating: 4/5 stars

Paperback, 309 pages
Published August 13th 1998 by Vintage Books

When the news headline flashes on the screen talking about the number of people dead and perhaps one tantalizing video that shows a graphical representation of the tragedy, it is easy to feel that momentary empathy for the people and then go on living your life being glad that you weren’t the one going through it.

The whole representation of it is so spread out and we look at it from a wide spectrum that often we forget how the impact that seems so small in comparison with the already wide population, has made a huge impact on that small group of people who lived it.
This book has individual interviews of the sarin gas survivors, families of non-survivors and even the Aum members who were involved in it or just part of Aum while it happened.
After reading it, I realised what kind of impact a tragedy can have on a person’s life, even if they’re not directly in contact with it.
The chaos, the pain, the grief, the loss was all topped by the apathy of the Aum members who believed their actions were justified because this was their path to salvation. And the things I read about why some of the people joined the cult resonated so much with my own self. Don’t we all get tired of life, after having to follow the same path everyone else does? How easy would it be to fall under the guidance of someone and just follow simple orders, knowing, and having full faith that it would lead to deliverance? Is that why so many people believe in God?
It is such a human thing to do, this disillusionment. My only surprise was that the people who fell into this trap were educated, strong people who could think for themselves and yet, there was this sense of belongingness, the purpose, the detachment from what they called ‘secular world’ that made them do things a sane person wouldn’t.

Sometimes in this multifaceted world of ours, inconsistency can be more eloquent than consistency.

The pain became a path to elevation, the brutalities became tests. And yet my mind keeps going back to that one girl who didn’t think that the man they called ‘guru’ who had sex with the renunciates and even offered it to her, was not a sham.
But most of all, what I liked about the book was the scattered point of views. With each interview, I got to know the story of the person and what events led him to that point, how HE dealt with the situation and how he lives with it afterwards. Seeing things like that, it is hard to just notice the wide spectrum. it is hard not to feel that individual pain of everyone and yet be able to measure the impact in a quantifiable term. 12 people dead. Doesn’t seem like a huge term after the number of people that die daily in shootings, accidents, terrorist attacks?
Read the book and then wonder if it was JUST 12 people who died that day.


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