polar bears (january 2010)


He once told me about polar bears – what solitary animals they are.

They mate just once a year. One time in a whole year. There is no such thing as a lasting male-female bond in their world. One male polar bear and one female polar bear meet by sheer chance somewhere in the frozen vastness, and they mate. It doesn’t take long. And once they are finished, the male runs away from the female as if he is frightened to death: he runs from the place where they have mated. He never looks back – literally. The rest of the year he lives in deep solitude. Mutual communications – the touching of two hearts – do not exist for them. So, that is the story of polar bears – or at least it is what my employer told me about them.

“How very strange.”

“Yes, it is strange.” I remember asking my employer, “Then what do polar bears exist for?”

“Yes, exactly,” he said with a big smile. “Then what do we exist for?”

— Haruki Murakami (After the Quake)

* * *

But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly, s/he would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.


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