Nekomonogatari (White) : 001

The tale is of me, Hanekawa Tsubasa, but it cannot be told by me. This is because I cannot define how much of me is actually myself in the first place. I am sure there had been a literary master who once wrote how, if one were to stretch out one’s foot, one would not think of the toes as part of oneself, but in my case, I would not even need to stretch my foot, as I am doubtful as to whether this heart itself is my own.

Am I me?

What am I?

Who am I?

Who? — I am me.

What? — I am myself.

For example, could these profound thoughts on utter absurdities such as the above truly be called ‘me’?

You might speak of it thus, if you were only to speak. However, this is simply a thought, a way of thinking, and while it may even be a memory, it is nothing more than the accumulation of knowledge, so to speak. If you were to say that it is my experiences that define me, then in that case, if there were a human being with the exact same experiences as mine, would it be just as well to call her ‘me’?

Even if there were a ‘me’ outside of myself, that is still me.

If so, then would I disappear if I were not as myself? — How would I think, what would my thoughts be?

The name of Hanekawa Tsubasa is already unstable to begin with.

I have changed my surname many times.

That is why an identity cannot be hoped for from my name — not in the slightest at all. The idea that the name is merely a symbol is one that I understand deeply, even physically, so to speak.

In facing abnormalities, understanding the name of the subject is important above all else — or at least the first step, so the big reason why I haven’t been able to face myself thus far is perhaps because I do not recognise my name as something of my own.

In that case, I should first know of my own name.

I should know of myself as Hanekawa Tsubasa.

It is only then that I will be able to define myself.

Of course, when I think about how Araragi-kun would not be one to stop and nitpick about these things, the ridiculousness of my own standstill becomes laughable. I become embarrassed when I think about how Araragi-kun, even after becoming a vampire or becoming non-human or being dragged into the other world by various abnormalities, would always continue on as Araragi Koyomi, unwaveringly himself, unwaveringly his own man.

Perhaps he does not realise this himself.

Even though it can be seen, as clear as a flame, by those around him that he would continue on as himself in whatever the time and place, unexpectedly, perhaps he does not realise this.

He has no need to realise it.

Araragi Koyomi is, confidently, ‘Araragi Koyomi’.

And that is why he can always tell his own tale.

That is why I like him.

Hanekawa Tsubasa likes Araragi Koyomi.

In the end, in talking about myself, I can start only from there. That is the only part of me which is certain, strangely. Like how, for example, when I sit down to study by myself at the library, I would abruptly write such a name as “Araragi Tsubasa” in the corner.

That is sufficient for my tale.

In the sixty adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the great detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there exist only two stories that were narrated not by his assistant Dr Watson but by Holmes himself. They are problematic works treated as spurious by Sherlockians, but in the beginning of one of the stories, “The Blanched Soldier”, Mr Holmes had this to say:

“The ideas of my friend Watson, though limited, are exceedingly pertinacious. For a long time he has worried me to write an experience of my own. Perhaps I have rather invited this persecution, since I have often had occasion to point out to him how superficial are his own accounts and to accuse him of pandering to popular taste instead of confining himself rigidly to facts and figures. ‘Try it yourself, Holmes!’ he has retorted, and I am compelled to admit that, having taken my pen in my hand, I do begin to realise that the matter must be presented in such a way as may interest the reader.”

As is the norm, I was enchanted by the degree to which Sherlock Holmes exceeded normal men, and would read about his acts with excitement, which is why I was taken aback by the sudden talk of his ‘true voice’.

Frankly, I was disappointed.

Why did he, a man who had displayed himself as terribly superhuman all this time, say something so human now? I felt something like betrayal.

But now I know, of his humanity which could not bear the gap between himself and the ‘superhuman’ which Watson spoke of.

Of his wish to find excuses.

In the end, the detective was told by his assistant to ‘try it himself’, and these two stories were published — I will state at the beginning that, well, this tale is that kind of story to me.

This is a tale to let you know that I, exaggeratedly spoken of like a historical saint or holy mother by Araragi-kun, am simply a human being.

To let you know that I am a cat, and a tiger.

And a tale to let you know that I am human, and a tale of utter disappointment, of betrayal.

I don’t think I can tell it as skilfully as Araragi-kun could, but I think I will leave it up to chance and try my best. After all, that is undoubtedly how anyone would tell of her own life.

Now then.

The time has come to wake up from the nightmare.

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