Some stories leave an everlasting impression on you. I don’t know as of yet whether ‘Birthday Girl’ by Murakami did that for me or not. But, one thing is for sure, it’s going to grow on me with the passing of time.
What’s 20th year like or what’s it to turn 20? You are either in the path you have set for your future or you are still figuring yourself out. It’s a crucial year— you are no less a teenager than no more an adult you are. You are on a precipice of something-what’s that, needs to be known.
The story is about a young waitress who happens to have her 20th birthday and her manager falls sick with an unexpected stomach ache and she has to take up the job of delivering dinner to ever reclusive and almost non-existent restaurant owner’s room, who happens to invite her in and ash her to wish one thing. He calls her ‘kind-hearted fairy,’ ‘lovely young fairy,’ while he like fairy god mother as the only to wish her first on her twentieth birthday and wished to grant her one wish.
She tells protagonist everything but the wish. It’s not revealed, the wish, neither it’s been infer whether she made a right one or not or she is happy or not. Yes, she was a young waitress, freshly broken up with her long time boyfriend on her 20th birthday and now after ten years sitting with the protagonist she is a middle aged woman with kids and husband and has an Audi of course with two dents on bumper, plays tennis with her girlfriends twice a week.
Narrator exclaims, “Hey, Bumpers are made for denting.”
‘That would make a great bumper sticker,’ she said. “Bumpers are for denting.”
…she said more softly. ‘No matter what they wish for, no matter how far they go, people can never be anything but themselves. That’s all.’
I have this penchant for open ending stories. I love them. There is this loose end here you are free to make your own interpretations and see where those lead you. With an end, whatever interpretation or views you have just gets denigrated in the light of what author has already said.
‘Your twentieth birthday comes only once in a lifetime, young lady. It’s an irreplaceable day.’
I never thought it like that when I turned twenty. I don’t even remember what happened on mine. I was a second year grads student, an insignificant and certified bookworm by then. I started living late. I realised my own presence very late in life. And before that I was just doing what I was supposed to do when thrown into certain circumstances, surviving.
What did the girl ask? What was her wish then? May be to keep wishing for what she wants whenever she wants. Or, may be she just asked to be gifted with such opportune moments in her life.
For me she just wanted to be herself—she eventually got a good homely life with kids and husband and a vehicle and girl friends. And rest, time will tell.