Adjani Gama Dessavre
You find out you have a brain tumour and are about to die, but the devil appears and makes an offer you can’t refuse. He will grant you as many days to live as you want, but for each one of them, something has to disappear. Obviously, with the devil, there is a catch: he decides what is going to disappear each day.
That is the main plot of the book “If Cats Disappeared From The World” by Japanese writer Genki Kawamura. It is not a book for everyone, but it certainly makes you think. What would you pay for one more day of life? Would you be willing to accept the consequences? I came to read this book out of my love for cats. I saw the titles in the shelves of a library and could not resist myself. So here are my thoughts.
In the beginning, it might be something not so important what disappears; something you can live without. At some point, you perceive its relevance for you and the inconvenience of not having it, yet you can live without it. So it is not the classical cliché where even the smallest perturbation to the status quo will make everything change hugely. You also realize that people do not notice its disappearance. That is how this deal works: quietly, smoothly, and, as in most Japanese literature, with a hint of melancholy.
Then something with more impact disappears, something like clocks and with them our concept of time. “I’ll meet you at noon” has no relevance anymore. And even if it seemed so important, you realized you can also live without it. You start to think about all the little details of your existence that were bound to a minute. How human is the concept of time! For no other species seems to get bothered by the tic-tac. Sometimes we even become prisoners of our own constructs.
You come out to reality for a second, and recognize that these quarantine days are a little bit like that. Clocks and time are not that relevant. There’s nowhere to go. Maybe a video conference at 11:00 a.m., but all you have to do is open your laptop. And time calmy goes on, but there is so much going on inside of you. So many thoughts in your mind that in regular routine did not have the moment to arise. Some are beautiful, some of them you are scared of. But all of them are part of you, and now with the clock not being a restriction, they are there, and maybe, just maybe, you should not ignore them this time.
Anyway, days continue, and you come back to the story, for things keep disappearing. And the moment arrives, that moment where something you do not want to fade is about to. Maybe some other people might be able to live without it, but for you, it is something too important (like cats…). Something too close to the meaning of your life, to how you have gotten to this point or something bound to your dearest memories.
And finally, it hits you. How dare you decide what is supposed to disappear? It hits you how egocentric you have been. One life deciding what is essential, what has the right to exist. Yes, life is precious and senseless, but to think your own existence is all that matters… So again melancholy comes, the circle is complete. You know one day you will have to say goodbye to everything, and you have no control over that. Having control was not worth it, for beauty and love should never disappear, or at least it shouldn’t be your decision.