The 2013 written Haruki Murakami novel— Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage delivers an surprising blend of painful & poignant events. Like majority of Murakami’s work, the story pictures the protagonist — Tsukuru Tazaki, a 36 year old who builds railroad stations in Tokyo, living an empty and dejected life. But turns out to me, it wasn’t really Tsukuru but Shiro who had even more depressing & inhibited life. As the plot progresses, we find Shiro being murdered, a night when it rained till dawn and the body being found 3 days later on the kitchen floor. Murakami, sometimes being weird with open endings, decides to keep mum on who killed her. I just got off a high from reading & here’s my theories on murderer/rapist.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead).
Let me take on the metaphors first. Aka meaning red, could have been the one responsible for Shiro’s rape and subsequent murder. Shiro moves out to Hamamatsu, where ‘red’ pines don't grow (they grow more inland). Another way she gets rid of ‘red’ in her life is through her eating disorder — by starving herself, Shiro was trying to make her periods stop.
When Aka visits Hamamatsu for business, he meets Shiro, a year before her death. Why would someone who doesn’t wish to expand his business past Nagoya visit somewhere else for business?
He says he believed that Tsukuru had nothing to do with the allegations, but decided to stay quiet. Also, I could comfortably connect the presence of cigarette butts in Shiro’s murder scene to Aka (Instance where he smoked at the office).
Yet whether a gay male could commit a sexual assault towards one of his favorite people is debatable.
2. Tsukuru’s father.
I might be oversimplifying, but this holds more water. Tsukuru describes his father’s deathbed confession which he didn’t get out, that might’ve been a guilt. At the end, Tsukuru doubts his father. — if he had a mistress? For me I think this ties in with Shiro that what if Tsukuru’s father had been taking advantage of her? There’s an instance when Eri says “ it’s just that Shiro always had a strong aversion to anything sexual. A fear of sex, you might say. I don’t know where those feelings came from. The two of us were very open with each other about almost everything but we hardly ever talked about sex.” This might’ve been an aftereffects of what Shiro had experienced from Tsukuru’s father.
Also, Tsukuru and his father had the same name. Interpreting his, Shiro wasn’t lying when she named her rapist. They just got the wrong Tsukuru.
Again in Haida’s story, Tsukuru questions whether it was Haida’s father’s story or Haida’s, introducing the concept that son could be mistaken for his father.
3. The Death Token.
But what if the celebrated “Murakami magical realism” might’ve happened. What if Shiro had the death token and was able to see the colors of others? I had related the story of Midorikawa playing piano, to Shiro when I was reading. At some point, she might’ve came across someone and accepted the token. She was always a sensitive person and hardly revealed anything (except to Eri maybe). When Eri says “An evil spirit possessed her”, was she referring to the death token?
Yet ending up strangled was really a sad way to die, like cold rain falling steadily until dawn.