I first heard of Ruth Ozeki’s masterpiece, ‘A Tale For The Time Being,’ a few years ago. It lay on my mind’s shelf, and although I had heard of it, I never came around to reading it.
Until a few weeks ago, I was traversing books hungrily, flipping from one to another in a frenzy that didn’t allow books the space they deserve: to be read with love. I would start one book before keeping it down for another.
And then, for no reason, Amazon Kindle Unlimited showed ‘A Tale For The Time Being’ on the app while I was shopping for groceries. (Like why?) I was thrilled to see that it was available for free to read there – and downloaded it to my Kindle – and forgot about it.
I went back to book biting, nipping little bits. But this book wouldn’t let go. I picked up a children’s book and then felt physically compelled to put it down and go to my Kindle. When books are really calling for you like this, it’s best to heed their call.
I started on a Saturday and didn’t stop.
This wasn’t a book. It wasn’t a story. It was an experience.
Deftly navigating two different time landscapes, Ozeki did what most other writers had failed to do this year: captivate me.
The non-linear plot may be disconcerting, but I found there was a rhythm in Ozeki’s time-walking. She’s also a Buddhist, and Buddhist themes of impermanence and emptiness are common in her books. There is Nao – an obvious play on ‘Now.’ And there’s Ruth – supposedly Ruth Ozeki herself. There’s Oliver, her husband, a cat named Chibi, and the sea and time.
Both the sea and time are characters here.
Also, suicide. Abuse. Cutting. Self-harm.
It might be difficult to read when I put it like that, but Ozeki makes all of this appear so human and vulnerable. You read along because you know that Nao and Ruth are us.
I don’t know why this book just shuddered into my life like this now, but I am glad it did. It’s a timeless book filled with longing, loss, and love.
Oh, so much love.
That is what remains when the longing is done with, and loss leaves.
You are left with love.
And I loved this book. This will be not everyone’s reading – but read this, if you can, when the book comes into your life.