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  • Monika Satote

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto : On Grief, love and loss

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

TW: Death of loved ones, loss, grief

Grief is a strange thing.

It affects you.

It consumes you.

It destroys you.

At the same time, it unleashes the healing power that you never realized you already had. Acknowledging your grief and working on it can be laborious. Equally or more laborious is comforting someone else in such a situation, dealing with the trauma yourself. This book revolves around the same theme. It has two stories, Kitchen & Moonlight Shadows. Of loss, love and grief and people impaled into it.

Kitchen is about an orphan girl Mikage Sakurai who lives with her grandmother. Her life shatters when her grandmother dies. She does not know what to do with her life anymore. That makes her realize how much cooking and a mere sight of the kitchen comforts her. She meets a young friend of her grandma, Yuichi from a flower shop. She ends up staying with him and his mother, Eriko. They treat her like a part of the family. Even in their house, Mikage finds herself comforted with the sight and idea of the kitchen. After six months, Mikage moves out for her new job as an assistant to a cooking teacher only to come back to Yuichi to comfort him through his tragedy.

In Moonlight Shadow, a young girl named Satsuki loses her boyfriend Hitoshi in an accident. She grows close (not romantically) to Hiiragi, her boyfriend's brother, whose girlfriend died in the same accident. As everyone grieves in their way, Satsuki chooses to run, whereas Hiiragi wears his girlfriend's uniform every day. One night, Satsuki meets a strange woman Urara. After some interaction, she realizes that Urara understands her like nobody else. After all, it is the grief that brings them together. Urara introduces Satsuki to the strange weather phenomenon that somehow helps to heal her. Hiiragi heals with it too. Moonlight Shadow portrays the phenomenon of accumulated grief.

Kitchen is a depressing book. In mere few pages, it causes so much pain to the readers that it just scares them. I was staying on the same page for days. It made me very uneasy at a point. I can feel my blues while writing this. The tinny taste of pain lingers in my mouth as I type this.

I have no particular experience of tragedy (*touchwood), but this book mysteriously makes you feel the part of the story. I learnt about grief, how it works differently on people and how people work differently on it. I guess that is the right way to do it. The book wrecked my hard work of reading books to become less scared of death because it pushed me into the same cycle again. This time, it is not about only my dying but also of my loved ones. Positively though, I have formed my balanced opinion on it.

The writing is dreamy, no doubt. But at some points, it made me feel dull. I am assuming it happened because of the theme.

I only recommend it if you are in a space to read some sad book. Please do not read it if you are going through something.


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