Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera is my favorite book thus far. I don’t take this lightly; I kept going back at the book, mostly in trials of terrors and tinges of desperation. I read it for pure enjoyment and encouragement. I read it for heartache, for the emptiness.
Every time I closed Kundera’s book, there’s a hollow feeling I’ve longed for and want to accomplish in my own piece: that satisfaction of uneasiness, that everything’s fine even though the world is created through our own meaning towards it. His writing–with its own imperfection, with its apparent narrator and its back-and-forth storyline–provides a thumbs up to meaninglessness.
As the plot is repeated each time in sections from different characters and perspectives, it’s as if you’re watching a movie from different angles. Each page uncovers every layer of the characters. There are four main characters, in addition to the dog, Karenin.
Tomas, an immediate asshole, is the main character. He’s a womanizer doctor who turns into window washer, due to unfortunate circumstances. Tomas first meet Tereza, a waitress, in a restaurant of the hotel he’s staying at in a small town. Days later after their first encounter, Tereza goes to Prague and knocks on his front door and makes love to him while crying. They’ve been together ever since.
Tereza is clingy, insecure, paranoid, and more dangerously, she understands Tomas without a doubt. Through her neediness and helplessness, Tomas becomes attached. She has nothing to lose and that’s what intrigues him. After a long journey of communism, they end up where they need to be and exactly want to be, a very rare occasion in humanity.
Sabina is the main mistress of Tomas he keeps going back to. If Tereza is the lightness of love, Sabina is the lightness of sex. When the two ladies meet, they have an instant connection, despite knowing how and why they are connected via Tomas in the first place. Sabina helps Tereza with the start of her career as a photographer.
Franz, Sabina’s lover, tries too hard in winning Sabina’s love. As a compassionate man, he is gentle and naive, even romantic. Although he comes later in the book, I think Franz’s fate is the more tragic one.
True love comes to you without warning, it’s like someone barges at your door and takes your hand when you’re wearing only your underwear. Tereza sees through Tomas, through his deficiency and infidelity. She leaves Tomas once, but her heart remains broken, as she always smells the pubic hairs of other women in Tomas’s hair. When Tereza moves back to Prague from Geneva, Franz realizes what he’s been missing. Each character undergoes complex consciousness of their mistakes and the consequences they have to face.
The journey of these four people is about individual obscure insecurities, human nature struggles, judgmental observations, and internal paradoxical thoughts. Although it’s set during the 1960s in communist era, the complex thoughts and philosophies of life are inspirational, true to the bone, and timeless, and relatable now and for days ahead. Although some people may not find a breakthrough in character development, the book is definitely a must read, filling the void of your useless soul.
Featured image above (the title) is taken from here.