Hardboiled and Hard Luck – Banana Yoshimoto

Hardboiled and Hard Luck

Ms. Lizzie D’souza used to make the most decadent marzipan Easter eggs a palate has ever savored. Nestled oh so cozily among the delicate weaves of satin cradles, unwearyingly waiting for enthusiastic strangers through the glass casement, somehow brought ephemeral magic to the quaint bakery down the leafy street; evermore dazzling with Lizzie’s welcoming smile. Easter is still a month away, but the commencing of Lent has brought in an inventory of pre-orders of the sugary almond confectionery. “We take Easter egg orders- original, caramel and chocolate” ; shone through the marble interiors of a grand patisserie. I put in my order for a two dozen of lavender hued and beige marzipan goodies with sugary icing. They now come in stylish boxes and not in those satin cradles. Ms. Lizzie has been dead for more than a decade now and the bakery has been lost somewhere in the gigantic commercialized edifice. The misty eyes and half-woken smile that followed me home was not in the commemoration of the deceased bakery or Ms. Lizzie , it was the wakeful memory of my first ever road tantrum ; an obstinate demeanor that soulfully made my grandfather splurge our cab fare on Ms. Lizzie’s marzipan creations. I was the happiest 4-yr old carrying my prize all the way home.

Closure is the trickiest word in the human psyche. Closurethe desire or need individuals have for information that will allow them to conclude an issue that had previously been clouded in ambiguity and uncertainty.

I am way too old to be in denial of my grandpa’s demise, but, undying memories never seem to be fading. Although, the conclusion of existing physicality two decades ago seems a distant past to those copious tears that flowed in the initial years, yet dormant emotions triggering with the slightest hint of nostalgia can never bring the said rational closure. Maybe, because I never got say a proper goodbye. I was in school when he departed this very earth. Closure is certainly the most passive sentiment.


“Time expands and contracts. When it expands, it’s like pitch; it folds people in its arms and holds them forever in its embrace. It doesn’t let us go very easily. Sometime you go back again to the place you’ve come from and close your eyes and realize that not a second has passed, and time just leaves you there, stranded, in the darkness.”

Chizuru was an enigmatic personality. External noises striding through her apartment walls never bothered her, if truth be told; they actually comforted her in some weird ways. I reckon her alienated life yearned for sounds all round. The music prancing around the CD player, couples sharing intimate conversations in the neighboring flat; the resonating gradations reassured her anxious disposition. Chizuru’s untimely death left her lover in a quandary of mystifying culpability. Mr. John belting out “sorry seems to be the hardest word” in the background questions the narrator’s supernatural illusions on a mountainous trek and begs the validity of Elton’s words. Did Chizuru’s baffling death left a hollow space in the chronicler’s burdensome heart? Would she attain the said closure of over her lover’s demise if only she could tell Chizuru how her decision to end the relationship was entirely her doing and if she could she would have stayed back? Incomplete farewells weigh one’s heart down more than the encumbered consequences of a hardboiled life; mystical reveries being the definitive pied piper to the veiled fretfulness.


“Death isn’t sad. What hurts is being drowned with emotions”.

Kuni’s hard luck distorted her sister’s sanity with tearful valedictions each day as Kuni slowly succumbed to obscure comatose depths. Coming to terms with the frozen reality of bereavement as the boundless spirit flies from the morbid bodily haven; undoubtedly the nastiest occurrence of life and death. Emptiness looms its ghastly countenance when we move from old to new relationships; the living endures the melancholic adversities of the departed.


To focus on the unbearable only marred what was scared…….. If any thing was a miracle, it was the lovely moments we experienced during the small, almost imperceptible period of relief”.

‘Rest in peace’, as we bless the departed soul, the genuine prayer is sermonic for serenity of the living. Yoshimoto’s undemanding prose may not be alarming and plays around surrealism similar to other Japanese literary compatriots, but, its fateful characters are memorable. Indeed, there is no closure to a heartfelt remembrance.

3/5***

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