Underground by Haruki Murakami

Book: Underground by Haruki Murakami Read Free Book Online
Authors: Haruki Murakami
    We couldn’t all go in the ambulance, so I was taken by police van to Nakano General Hospital. There they laid me out on a bench while they examined me. The results weren’t good, so they put me on intravenous straightaway. I’d heard reports in the police van over the radio about the effects of poisoning and so on. That’s when I realized I’d been poisoned.
    At this point, apparently, they knew it was sarin at Nakano General, but there we were still wearing our sarin-saturated clothes. Soon the hospital staff were complaining of eye trouble too. Allthrough the morning my body was like ice. Even with an electric blanket, I was shivering. My blood pressure was up to 180. Ordinarily I run in the 150s tops. Still, I wasn’t worried, just puzzled.
    I was in the hospital for twelve days: vicious headaches the whole time. No painkiller worked. I was in agony. The headaches would come in waves all day, receding then getting stronger. I also ran a high fever for two days; as high as 40° C [104° F].
    I had cramps in my legs and trouble breathing for the first three or four days. It was like there was something stuck in my throat. Excruciating. My eyes were so bad I’d look outside and see no light at all. Everything was a blur.
    They kept me on intravenous for five days. On the fifth day, my Cholinesterase level had returned to near normal, so they detached the drip. * My pupils slowly recovered, but whenever I focused on anything I felt a sharp shooting pain at the back of my eyes, like I was being stabbed with a pick.
    They finally discharged me on March 3 and I took a month off work to recuperate at home. I still suffered from splitting headaches. And with my legs so wobbly, I was bound to fall arid hurt myself while commuting—what they call “secondary injury.”
    First thing in the morning my head would hurt. It was like a killer hangover. My head throbbed with each pulse, every heartbeat, and it kept up relentlessly. Still, I didn’t take any medicine. I simply buckled down and took the pain. Having absorbed sarin, the risk of taking the wrong medicine was worse than taking nothing, so I avoided all headache remedies.
    I took off all of April, then put in an appearance at our newly constructed Showajima Center after the early May holidays, and started back on the job. We were arranging desks, connecting computers, straight through every day until late at night. I know I overdid it. My head still hurt. It got worse when the June rains set in. Every day it felt like I had some massive weight crushing my skull. And I still got shooting pains when I tried to look at anything.
    I was afraid to commute again. I’d board the train and see thedoor slide shut before my eyes, and in that very instant my head would seethe with pain. I’d get off and go through the ticket barrier, thinking, “I’m okay,” and the weight would still be there in my head, bearing down. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. If I talked for more than an hour my head would be killing me. It’s still that way now. In mid-April when I filed a police report, the effort wore me out.
    Then, after a week’s vacation in August, I felt a noticeable change. I was fine on the train. My headaches weren’t so bad. Maybe the time away from work eased the tension. The first few days back at work were great, but a week later I was back to square one. Headaches again.
    One day in August it took me three hours to get to work. I had to stop off all along the route and rest until the pain subsided; but the moment I was back on board a train it would flare up again, so I’d have to rest—over and over again. It was 10:30 by the time I reached the office!
    I went to see a psychologist, Dr. Nakano, at St. Luke’s Hospital. I related my case history and symptoms up to that point, and he said, “Absolutely hopeless! It’s suicidal the way you’re working!” He didn’t mince his words. After that I went to him twice a week for counseling. I took

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