If you could go back in time, who would you want to meet? What would you want to change? Or what would you like to find out about your future?
by Francesco Michienzi
Before Your Memory Fades is the title of a wonderful book by the Japanese author Toshikazu Kawaguchi: a modern novella I recommend you read while relaxing on your boat, after a year of stress and worries. In the heart of Japan, there is an extraordinary place. A small cafe that serves coffee with an intense, enveloping aroma, capable of evoking past emotions; allowing you to relive a moment from days gone by where you didn’t manage to express your deepest, most heartfelt feelings, or ended up disappointing the people who matter most. All you have to do to enjoy this unique experience is follow a few, simple rules: sit at your favourite table and savour your coffee slowly, one sip at a time. And, most importantly, make sure it doesn’t get cold. For any reason. Unimaginable things happen to those who leave even a single cold drop at the bottom of their cup.
BEFORE YOUR MEMORY FADES BY JAPANESE AUTHOR TOSHIKAZU KAWAGUCHI, PUBLISHED IN ENGLISH BY PAN MACMILLAN, IS A LIGHT AND INTENSE NOVEL THAT WILL LEAVE A PROFOUND IMPRESSION ON THE SOUL OF ANYONE WHO READS IT.
Entering this cafe is not for everyone. Only those who are brave and feel in need of a challenge can step up and take the risk. Like Yayoi who, deprived of her parents’ affection when she was still very young, is unsure how to welcome a newborn baby into the world and take care of them. Or Hayashide, who despite his sparkling career, marked by one success after another, has never noticed that he always had happiness within his reach. Or Reiko, who never knew how to apologise to her beloved sister, and now feels crushed by guilt, stuck in an eternal present where every day is the same as the last. And Reiji, for whom a phrase as simple as ‘I love you’ still feels like an impossible obstacle to overcome. Reading this book made me think about the world of boating, with all its different dimensions, people, and situations.
I tried asking myself ‘who would I like to meet if I could go back in time?’ and ‘if I could travel to the future, what would I like to know in advance?’. Everyone would like to be able to change the past, rewind the tape, and start all over again. But deleting the past is not the best course of action. On the contrary, the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and look to the future with optimism, without thinking about missed opportunities. Because there will always be new chances to pursue the life you want to lead. Essentially, a cup of coffee is all it takes to make peace with the past and learn to accept the future.
(Before Your Memory Fades – Barchemagazine.com – August 2022)