Underground by Haruki Murakami is a compilation of interviews from Japanese who witnessed the horrific Tokyo Gas Attack in 1995.
Aum, a cultural cult, was responsible for releasing Sarin in five of the Tokyo subway trains during rush hour. Though it killed only 13 people, hundreds of lives are impacted. Underground has interviews from victims as well as some AUM followers. It’s quite common to see terrorist atrocities on common masses as News headlines on TV but it was very heart wrenching to actually read about it! Or maybe it was only me??
People, affected by the gas, din’t realise what it was and continued their commute to work. Some of them went out of the way to help others. The only positive things about such attacks or natural calamities is that it brings out the humanity in people. Few lost their lives, few lost their loved ones. Some interviews are with the family members of deceased. I was most touched by couple of them, one from a brother and parents of a woman who was reduced to a vegetative state after the attack. And another one from a pregnant lady who lost her husband to the attacks and had a lovely daughter later.
Murakami had lived away from his native country for a long time and then he decided to write something to know more about his own people. In his own words :
“I had to learn more about the Japanese as a form of consciousness.”
I would have appreciated it more if it had more information about AUM.The reader never gets to know the reason of the attacks! Maybe it was Murakami’s intention. And anyways, there never can be a justifiable reason for such things. It’s a terrifying read which will make you think about the vulnerabilities of modern world, yet again!