The lamp does not cast a shadow – silence a sigh

Once in my life, I fell in love deeply even though I knew for sure that the relationship would not go anywhere. Until the breakup, the feeling of lightheadedness but pain still stuck with me for a year, even though when he offered to start over, I refused. Sometimes, it’s the feeling of not having it fully that makes that love so special in my heart.

If there is a test of love that is both sweet, bitter and haunting, it is probably the kind of love that insiders don’t know if it ever belonged to them or not. It’s the kind of love whose melancholy, paradox, and elusiveness is like an addictive drug. Because people know its harmful effects but still rush in like a moth. That is the love of nurse Noriko for Dr. Naoe in the best novel by writer Dzunichi Watanabe: “The lamp does not cast a shadow”.


Maybe for the rest of her life, Noriko won’t know if Naoe loves her or not. If there is, it is also a kind of love that is too silent, numb and strangely silent. But anyway, what Noriko needs from the man she loves is not a response, because if that was the case, she would have left him from the very first lines of the novel…

“Lamps do not cast shadows” was written in 1971, set in a private hospital. The people in the novel are more or less related to that hospital, but the main story that the author conveys is not simply about the medical profession. The main characters in the story are Dr. Naoe, nurse Noriko and throughout the novel are the narratives and emotions of their mysterious, strange and painful love story. Noriko lived by her love for Naoe but standing beside him, she remained as quiet as a shadow. She voluntarily attached, patiently, endured Naoe’s coldness, accepted not being officially acknowledged from him when their relationship was always kept secret and biting her teeth through a series of other women. in Naoe’s life, from the girl in the bar, the star singer to the director’s wife and daughter…

Noriko remained silent like a sigh, like an illusion of the man she loved, accepting the pain she had to endure every day. Only until the tragedy happened, the veil of secrecy was lifted to clear the doubts of Noriko herself and the reader, that Dr. Naoe was “cleared”. By that time, Wanatabe had painted the image of a weak, fragile middle-aged man Naoe, different from the talented, charming, arrogant doctor every day. Unfortunately, the truth was known too late, causing Noriko’s pain to only thicken but never lessen. The pain did not come rushing, but slowly, gently but with stronger intensity each time, starting with a lightning strike to the letters left by Dr. Naoe, beginning with: “We will not see you again” and ends with “Tell me you’ve been cheating on me up to this point, and I honestly believed you. I take advantage of your trust one last time. I hope that you will be my last friend.”

If Noriko is portrayed as a woman with great self-sacrifice and boundless love, then for most of the novel, it is difficult for readers to grasp what Naoe really is. Wanatabe did not choose to describe the inner character of this male protagonist, but let the reader feel it through the events in the story, with the perspective and comments of the minor characters in the novel. My first impression of this doctor was nothing but cold. He is like an iceberg that the more you want to learn, the colder it will be. A doctor who is not really dedicated to his profession, an emotionless lover, a person who is a bit lost in life and among the people around him. But that’s not the real Naoe. Unfortunately, we will never get a chance to know him, as throughout the novel he is just a makeshift Naoe ready for death.

I can't get it 1

“Lamps don’t cast shadows” opens with interrupted conversations between Noriko and another nurse, Kaoru. Noriko’s image at that time was nothing special, even causing a bit of an objection with her curt, fastidious, discontented way of speaking to her colleagues. But it ends with the opposite image – a Noriko standing alone in a white-tiled operating room under a shadowless lamp, “like a sun. Before surgery, she always waits for Naoe here. Under the light of this lamp, there was not a single person casting a shadow…Standing in the bright light of the lamp that did not cast a shadow, Noriko waited patiently.” Everything has not changed, only Noriko is no longer there to “order” her like any other surgical team they work together.

I know more than one doomed woman like Noriko in real life. And I think every one of us knows someone like that, who ignores the world’s comments that they are blind, stupid to cling to a love that only brings tragedy. But heart and love are two things that cannot be measured by someone’s own standards. Just like the lights, there are shadows, and there are no…

– Hexes –

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