Parasite in Love

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Objectively speaking, even commonplace events can be world-changing incidents to the involved parties. For example, long ago, a woman told me this. The best memory of her life was in elementary school, when she was chosen to provide piano accompaniment for a chorus competition. When you've only heard that part, it might sound rather foolish. In fact, some people might think it's foolish even after listening to the whole story. It's all up to individuals to decide how they feel about things.

At the time, she was very reclusive and had no friends, and had no heavy burdens other than her role of providing accompaniment. Truthfully, she wanted to back out, but there was no one else in her class who could play piano, and she didn't have a personality that would let her refuse people's requests, so she ended up accepting. Days of being crushed by the worry of "what if I make a mistake during the show and drag everyone down?" went on, and she evidently cried to herself many times.

But once the chorus practice actually began, it soon caused her suffering no longer. In fact, she started looking forward to the practice sessions.

The conductor was a boy she secretly had affections for. When the performance began, he would always look directly at her. She knew, of course, that it was only eye contact for the sake of timing the performance. However, it made her happy. So much so that everything else stopped mattering. 𝗳𝔯e𝒆𝙬𝘦𝙗𝓷o𝘷el. c૦𝑚

Some people might laugh: "How lonely a life must that be if your greatest memory was just a boy you like looking at you?" But I understand her feelings very well. Even if the rest of her life afterward were filled with bliss, I believe her number one memory would remain "just a boy she liked looking at her."

People's standards of evaluation are rather haphazard. That full-course meal from an expensive restaurant you had when you were rich may not taste as good as a school lunch worth a couple hundred yen you had when impoverished, and you may not feel as much affection toward the girl who you spent most of your fulfilling college days with as you do the girl in middle school who held your hand once when you were down in the dumps. In terms of this book, I don't suppose Kousaka will ever forget the time Sanagi kissed him through a face mask. I suppose you could call it "happiness by subtraction." I consider this inversion of values to be one of humankind's most beautiful glitches.

If my previous books, The Place You Called From and The Place I Called From, were a story of physical defects, then Parasite in Love is a story of mental defects. In that sense, perhaps you could say the two stories have opposing structures. I had the idea of "the sickness of absence" in early spring 2014, but I had practically zero knowledge of parasites at the time. Miraculously, around that same time, the Japanese translation of Moises Velasquez-Manoff's An Epidemic of Absence was released by Bungeishunju, though I didn't learn of this until 2016. It was a deeply interesting book that I got very engrossed in, forgetting I was reading it for reference, so if reading this book gave you any interest in parasites, perhaps you might want to give it a try?

Also, the title of this book, Parasite in Love, was taken directly from Dr. Koichiro Fujita's book Parasite in Love (Kodansha). I'd like to deeply thank Dr. Fujita for generously allowing me to copy his title.

- Sugaru Miaki

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