Views of an Imaginary City 34: A Nizimoamuàri

Two people walk past each other on a quiet street corner, both looking about their surroundings in an apparent state of reverie. The inscription tells us that we are looking at a nizimoamuàri, which could be translated as “a past or future love place.” (This is a somewhat awkward translation. The word muàri refers to any time—past, future, or hypothetical—that is not the present moment.) Nizimoamuàri are particular locations that, every time one happens to set foot in them, convey the impression that they bear some kind of not-quite-definable connection to one’s romantic life. This curious sensation is usually described as being somewhat like a memory, and yet a memory that does not seem to correspond to any actual incident in one’s life that one can identify. At the same time, it can register a little like a premonition, a feeling that one is meant to experience something important here with someone someday, that this place is connected in some way to that great mythical love story that one never quite stops imagining for oneself.

People generally have several such nizimoamuàri. They tend to be located in places one has frequented all one’s life, or at least to bear some resemblance to other places one used to frequent. It should be emphasized, however, that the peculiar influence of these places is an extremely vague and subtle one. In many cases, people are only subconsciously aware of it. Contributing to this lack of awareness is the fact that nizimoamuàri are for the most part rather nondescript spots: a particular bench in a park, perhaps, or the landing of a staircase in a multileveled shopping bazaar, or a street corner near one’s work.

The explanations put forward for the nizimoamuàri phenomenon are numerous: One theory is that one happened to witness an especially attractive stranger pass by here once, or a couple kissing with a particular intensity—or perhaps just talking and laughing, with an ease and a complicity that one has so often dreamed of for one’s own relationships. Though these specific memories, being of little concrete import to one’s life, have long since vanished into oblivion, the location’s romantic associations have remained. Or perhaps it is something in how the light falls over this particular arrangement of buildings or trees in this particular orientation, or how the faded words of an ancient pipe tobacco advertisement always conjure up for one the refrain of an old song, or the way the perfume emanating from the corner flower shop always hits one just at the moment one is walking away from it—something, anyway, in a physical property of this location that seems to transport one back to another place and another time, neither of which one can quite pinpoint, wherein one experienced something romantic, or at least dreamt of it with a special ardour. 

It could be, for instance, that a very long time ago, one had been browsing the shelves of a used bookstore, when one looked over and saw a handsome young man doing the same thing, although it was obvious that he was doing so very distractedly, and then at that very moment the most beautiful girl came around behind him and placed her hand—just for a brief second, yet with ever so much restrained tenderness—on his shoulder, and when he turned around to greet her there was such a gleam in both their eyes that one felt one had to look away for a moment, out of a strange bashfulness, even though the look was not directed at one, even though it was clear that, as far as those two were concerned, oneself and everything else around them had receded into oblivion, and they were both grinning at one another so spontaneously and uncontrollably, and then a moment later they were walking away from one, with an almost childlike spring in their step, towards some show that one had heard the girl mention they were going to be late for. Right then, one had felt oneself being flung, almost physically and extremely painfully, into the sidelines of the moment, and it wasn’t until several minutes after one had left the store that one felt oneself begin to regain one’s sense of equilibrium at the centre of one’s own life. With time, however, one has forgotten the incident completely. It is even possible, for all one is now aware of it, that one was once one of the two members of that happy pair. As the relationship turned sour long ago, however, one has erased even such happy moments from one’s memory. And yet, when one sets foot in that used bookstore, or another bookstore somewhat like it, the correlated emotion comes rushing back.

Of course—this being Sensuka, a devoutly Chogyan city—another explanation that is offered for the nizimoamuàri phenomenon is that the apparent memory embedded in these places actually relates to an experience in a past life. By the same logic, it is also conceivable that the location is connected to a predestined experience that is yet to occur in this iteration of the life cycle one is currently inhabiting (It will be recalled that, according to Chogya beliefs, each individual human life is endlessly repeated, though it is experienced each time by a different soul). This last possibility gives one hope.

It is not clear in this view whether the titular nizimoamuàri belongs to the depicted man or to the depicted woman, or indeed, coincidentally, to both.

This entry was posted in illustration, Imaginary City, watercolour, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Views of an Imaginary City 34: A Nizimoamuàri

  1. Isabelle P. says:

    Quel superbe texte, merci Julian, de nous offrir de la beauté à contempler et à lire..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marryam says:

    Beautiful description – this experience from an imaginary city is not far off from the reality of our own when we are sometimes lucky enough to experience those moments of magic and phenomenon.. something like deja vu, that only makes sense when that moment strikes, not before or after. You captured that experience precisely.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s