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The Narrator, Mikage begins with her most favorite spot being a kitchen, the size, kind, or location not an issue, preferably well used. Even if they’re spattered with food, which Mikage hopes happens to the larger kitchens she may visit, currently though, she leaning on a large fridge, viewing through a window the evening stars. Only she and the kitchen present whilst considering how she would be content with dying in a kitchen. She remembers when her grandmother died and couldn’t sleep, sleeping near the fridge easing her mind. Mikage’s parents died at a young age, she then living with her grandparents, when starting junior high, her grandfather died, and the previous day, her grandmother died, she shocked to learn she was now the last one in her family, after attending the funeral, moving her futon to the kitchen. When she realizes she must move, the list of apartment options overwhelms her, she buckling with the task, but as the days passed by, she is visited by a young man, Yuichi, as she’s glancing disinterestedly at the apartment list, and binding up old magazines with strings. Mikage thanks him for helping her at the funeral, they having attended the same university, and she taking bereavement leave.

Yuichi inquires after her apartment hunt and she informs him of its stagnation, Yuichi then inviting her to stay, he having discussed this with his mother, and giving her directions, setting a time she could visit later. Mikage accepts without thinking too much about it, he then leaving, she recalling Yuichi’s reaction of sadness at the funeral, she thinking he must’ve had a relationship with her grandmother she wasn’t aware of, but after he’d offered her his help there, he’d continued helping her. Then she remembers her grandmother talking of the boy, Tanabe, whom worked at the flower shop she frequented, Mikage sensing he was the solitary sort, since even after knowing him for a bit, he seemed stand-offish. It began raining as she walked to his house, their homes separated by a park, she walking through, and when seeing how high their floor was, considering how wonderful their view must be, she not thinking past their invitation. She’s greeted by Yuichi at their front door, and is hit with the size of the couch before seeing the large kitchen behind it, and loving it from the first viewing. Normally, when confronted with people she didn’t know well, in a different home, she felt isolated, but knowing how alone she already was, put a spin on the situation, giving her new perspective.

Mikage gets straight to the question of why she was there, Yuichi plainly stating how nice her grandmother had been to him and they having plenty of space to spare, the two interrupted by Yuichi’s mother, Eriko rushing in, Mikage captivated by her stunning features. Whilst getting through pleasantries, Eriko quickly changes to return to work at a nightclub, she mentioning how she expected Yuichi to convince her to stay over, Yuichi walked her out and suggests Mikage watch TV for a moment as he rushed out to speak with his mother, Mikage finally understanding what being enchanted was. When Yuichi returns, he inquires whether she’d felt timid around Eriko, she being honest and remarking on her exquisite features, Yuichi confides how she’d had surgery, and had been a man, Mikage at first thinking he was messing with her, but then listens to how his parents met when they were young, his mother’s family giving Eriko a home, he then running away to get married with his mother. After his mother died, Eriko decided to get the surgeries to become a woman and started the nightclub. So whilst she still didn’t know whether to trust him fully, she gave them a shot because she did have faith in their kitchen, the two’s “Buddha” smiles being nice, as well.

When they end their night, Yuichi shows her how the shower worked and gets her set up with blankets, pajamas and what not, she again making certain her staying was fine, he then leaving her to get settled. When she lays down, she’s quite content with the silence, view, plants, and kitchen so close, she going to sleep, content. When she’s greeted by Eriko in the morning, she forgets for a moment of her male genetics, but then offers to make breakfast when Eriko decides takeout would be easier, she leaving Mikage to work the kitchen. Eriko shows her healthy appetite and by afternoon, Mikage is reveling in the slow, calm atmosphere. Eriko then mentions how Yuichi had described her as looking like a dog they used to have (17 Again), Eriko insisting on seeing the resemblance and how amused she was by it the night they met, Mikage hoping the dog wasn’t a Saint Bernard. Eriko then explains how she understood why Yuichi was so attached to her was for this reason, and she regretting not being a better mother for recognizing his aloofness, but he turning into a good person; she recognizing the same of Mikage, relating how hard life could be, but wanting her to be comfortable. When Mikage offers to pay rent, Eriko instead request she make the soupy rice once in awhile, hers surpassing Yuichi’s.

Mikage then realizes upon review, how stressing living with the elderly could be, knowing they could die soon. She recalls how easy the relationship between she and her grandmother was and the times she may have mentioned Yuichi, but even during times Mikage was impaired by drink or love, she knew there was only one person left in her life, and while she was aware of having been loved, the loneliness of her life sobered her to how it was, so she didn’t take long to move in. She showed her appreciation with making food and tidying, still working her part-time job, the three of them working different hours so it feeling spacious, Mikage extremely grateful with how she’d gotten so lucky. When she’d gone to her old home for the remainder of her belongings, she already felt estranged, and as she cleaned the fridge, her house phone rang, she hearing her ex, whom was out of the picture when her grandmother got worse. He called to give condolences, having heard through classmates, they then making a time to see each other. Sotaro’s main interest is plants, he normally outside near parks and whatnot, but due to the winter season, they agree on a cafe near a park.

They have general chat until Sotaro brings up knowing she’d moved in with Yuichi, whom had been slapped by his now ex-girlfriend in school. As they walked through the park she was reminded why they weren’t good together, he not making her feel good about herself, but by nothing he outwardly said, only how he was, they then leave each other on good terms. As she’s watching TV later in the evening, Yuichi comes home with a word processor, Mikage noting Yuichi and his mother’s penchant for pricey electronics. When he questions her on when she would post her change-of-address forms and how she’d rather get it done when she moved for good, he reacts bluntly, but quickly lightens, Mikage again asking if her being there imposed on him, he acting oblivious. They get the forms ready to send out, she learning Yuichi wanted to help for despising spare time. As they continued, she asks about the issues her being there seemed to have for him, he finally catching on and as they worked, she sensed he was quite melancholy, she understanding the issue he’d had with his girlfriend, and if she stayed there, she’d only make his life more difficult, she also seeing how their intimate conversations could complicate her feelings toward him, so whilst making the new address forms, she attempted to convince herself of needing to move as soon as possible.

When Eriko comes in to drop off a newly bought juicer, she remembers a gift for Mikage upon seeing the address cards, Mikage overcome by the thoughtful banana glass (a nod to herself?). Mikage cleared out her stuff and finished cleaning the next day, she seeing the landlord and chatting amiably like she and her grandmother used to do. She was heading to her new home by nightfall and getting emotional about how she was truly done with her childhood home, but then getting cranky when riding a crowded bus, feeling better when seeing an airship. A grandmother and granddaughter sitting nearby, the girl seemingly in a bad mood is unphased when her grandmother points out the same airship to her. When the girl’s grandmother finally gets the girl to smile though, Mikage is overwhelmed by no longer getting to see her own grandmother, she rushing off the bus and crying violently, knowing it was because she hadn’t properly mourned, but she then noticing she had stopped at a kitchen, she immediately feeling better and continuing on her way. When she got back, she announced how tired she was to Yuichi and is almost fully asleep when he’d gone to the kitchen to make tea, she halfway aware of his commenting on how quickly she’d gone down. She dreamt about the kitchen in the old apartment, a floor color she once hated, now loving. She sees Yuichi cleaning the floor and she suggests they have a tea break.

They have an aimless chat, until Yuichi asks whether she was going to leave their apartment, and before she was able to answer, telling her not to, which confused her since he sounded like they’d already begun this topic. He explains how he’d considered carefully before inviting her, and believed being with them is what’s best for now, Mikage conveying her agreement and Yuichi returning to his task of cleaning the floor. They they begin singing together as they worked, Mikage believing she broke the dream-mode by requesting they stop in case her grandmother woke, he instead suggesting they go to a ramen noodle stand at the park when they were through. Mikage wakes up after this, it now two in the morning. Yuichi takes her by surprise whilst she’s in the kitchen pouring water for herself, he also having woken up and deciding to make ramen, Mikage offering to cook it for him and to sit on the couch. When she mentions in her dream he’d also wanted ramen, she notices his surprise, he then inquiring of the color of the kitchen floor, she confirming he was correct, and thanking him for mopping the floor, he then offering to get them both juice, Mikage letting the discussion about the dream lay, knowing they had plenty of time in the future to talk about the shared experience.

One night Eriko is watering the plants when she blurts how it isn’t simple being female, and learning one’s breaking points is healthy in truly having the ability to know happiness, she appreciating the hard times she’d gotten through. Mikage states how she believed she knew what Eriko meant, Eriko then complimenting Mikage’s grandmother for having been an extraordinary lady for having raised a truthful, good-hearted young woman, she loving Mikage for it and how she’d been fortunate. Mikage begins reading the magazine she had started before Eriko’s spontaneous chat, and also ponders how she’d have to move again at some point, she debating if she’d ever come back when she did or would only have her fond memories. She then decides to focus on ‘the now’ and enjoy them whilst she could, also considering how she planned on handling the tough times in the future. She then thinks about imagined and real kitchens she’d experience with many people or only one other, in every place she would live and knowing there would be plenty more.

Eriko was murdered by a crazed regular at her club after the man had seen her walking to work one night. Yuichi phones Mikage to let her know, waking her up and stating how Eriko had taken her murderer down with her, Mikage having difficulty allowing this to sink in due to grogginess. Another blow came when Yuichi confesses how long ago it had happened, he not able to let himself inform her before the funeral, begging her forgiveness. Mikage decides she’d rather have this talk in person and offers to come by (this being after she’d finished school and now worked in a cooking school as an assistant), she then remembering the last encounter she’d had with Eriko being at a store late one night, the two ending their passing with smiles. Mikage dashes through her apartment hurriedly to grab what she needed, finally getting her head together with the items she required and left. On her walk, she starts to get upset, her eyes blurring and making everything viewed in a pretty glaze. She was truly broken by the news though, life not seeming worth living, none of this showing . When she sees Yuichi, she’s quite happy since it’d been awhile, Yuichi surprised she wasn’t furious with him. Instead they sit on the couch drinking coffee, he at first asking about her job, she in the honeymoon phase, then relaying his state of mind being wildly out of sorts around the time of the funeral, he having her in his thoughts, but unable to confess for it becoming too real, regardless of Mikage and Eriko being so chummy.

Mikage handles his explanation by noting how they were a pair, having lost so many people already, she successfully lightening Yuichi’s mood and they proceeding with Eriko’s will, but Yuichi also giving her Eriko’s red sweater which one day she had guiltily admitted looked better on Mikage. She proceeds with reading the letter written to Yuichi by Eriko, she starting lightly, stating of the ridiculous possibility of her death by someone’s hand, but sensing the necessity, she glad Mikage had entered his life since Eriko was the last of Yuichi’s family, this before warning him to refrain communicating with his mother’s side. She then tells how she attempted writing as a man and failed, she then reminiscing about the good times throughout her life, Mikage living with them being one, then ending with what legal papers he would find and to phone the lawyer for further detail, everything but the club going to him. Mikage stayed up most of the night grieving, the two not getting up until after noon. Yuichi readies for school and inquires if Mikage planned on going home, she thoughtfully declaring she would wait until dinnertime, which lights the idea in Yuichi’s head she should make a fancy feast, she wholly into the idea and supplying a grocery list for him to retrieve for her, after he’d gone, she getting the empty-house feeling, prominent after a death.

Mikage treasured the six months she’d had with Eriko, she getting overcome with the empty feeling and sleepiness, but resisting for knowing nightmares would arise, she moving to the kitchen and upon inspection, cleans the place for not being used in awhile. As she made progress, the kitchen duties eased her mind, she realizing she had turned a corner. She remembers how the summer she was with Eriko and Yuichi had also been the one she’d learned to cook. She bought three books which covered all the necessary information to attempt the task. Yuichi and Eriko would tease her because of the flurry of excitement she’d display as she learned, she even finding how cooking made her feel when in negative moods. She realizes she had brought the family together due to how much she cooked, she looking back on those days fondly, then considering how the possibility of beginning the cooking process depended on if the heat was at the right temperature before cooking, believing this affected the taste and look of the dish, they certainly not looking like the pictures in her texts. Mikage then goes over how frustrated she had at first become upon failure of making a dish properly, but how she’d gotten through it, not changing her, but helping her discover her own process. The position of the celebrity cook she’d landed, she believed was acquired by the difference in temperament between herself and the other candidates, especially with only the three month study program (her three books) she’d given herself. The other women not living a life which would allow the same type of learning Mikage had gotten (those three months of heaven), enough to understand risks needed to be made for anything good to come from life.

All of Mikage’s cleaning had passed the day, Yuichi having her help him with two more bags of groceries in the car, he then seeing the moon looking nice, Mikage catching his attempt at changing the subject due to making her help him with bags having nothing to do with the dinner like he’d claimed. As they rode the elevator back up, Mikage came to the idea how Yuichi made her feel content, but unable to make sense of the emotion. Dinner took her two hours to finish, she mentioning how she wouldn’t be able to cope with Eriko’s death all at once, and noting how worn down Yuichi seemed, which is why neither brought up Eriko. After they had eaten all they could, Mikage saw an empty bottle of wine Yuichi must have drank by himself, he then conveying how it did help cause his putting off calling her about Eriko, being drunk for a month and his mind believing she’d hold his not confessing sooner against him. Yuichi then confides all the thoughts he’d built up about how he’d handled his mother’s death and not being brave enough to face Mikage, he then asking if she’d move back, she not knowing if he was too drunk to understand what he was saying, but stating of it on the table for debate. Yuichi brings down the mood with how he could end up becoming stuck in his gloom, she getting upset and deciding they should see how things would go. He passes out and Mikage cleans the dishes whilst she bawls over her isolation. When she is woken by the phone the next morning, she picks it up before remembering she wasn’t at home, the caller disconnecting after she says hello, she then going to work. After she learns she’d be let out early, she was also invited to a three-day research retreat for food, she immediately accepting, which answered her own question of whether she’d be staying with Yuichi. As she entered the prep area, she speaks with the two head assistants who couldn’t go to the three-day research retreat, due to golf lessons, the girls sweet, and Mikage pleased to work with them.

Then the three are visited by the defensive, know-it-all caller, a classmate of Yuichi whom is also in love with him, she attempting to demand Mikage leave him alone whilst also schooling her about how she’d gotten him in a rut, she mentioning how she’d comforted him after his mother had died, and before she could continue her selfish tirade, Mikage starts speaking about how the girl hadn’t even gotten her side of what happened, she feeling bad for the girl having wasted her time for a useless task. Once Mikage had said her peace, the girl left, the two assistants supporting Mikage’s side, she feeling worn down. When Yuichi returns home later, Mikage shares her news about work and planning on leaving to pack, but as he’d been driving her home, she craves some tea beforehand, and upon sitting, she mentions this being their first time out together. When he’d gotten her home, they discuss what he’d like for a souvenir, she burying her face in his arm when realizing how cold it was outside, then leaving and discovering her own jealousy, not knowing whom was “winning”. Mikage then relates a sad memory of Eriko when she was sharing a story about before she became a woman, his wife terribly ill and how he’d visit her before and after work every day. At one point, his wife asks for something alive to be with her in the hospital room, Eriko immediately out and buying a pineapple potted-plant, his wife extremely grateful. When she was about to get worse (Eriko not confessing to her the nature of her illness), she requests he take the plant home with him, his isolation shared with the pineapple, he also coming to his first realization of becoming a woman as he decided against hailing a taxi, after his wife’s death, planning on maintaining a bemused sunniness, he then transitions to become a lady. Mikage figures what she’d meant by sharing the story, she fighting her weaknesses as she tried to sleep.

The next morning Mikage gets a phone call from Chika, the head girl at Eriko’s club, whom now owned it by Eriko’s will. Chika was a transvestite, but quite pretty, he calling to speak with her about an important topic, mysteriously only giving the place they’d meet and hanging up. Upon meeting him at the noodle place, Mikage begins eating and then inquires what was so urgent, he usually exaggerating, but he talking about how Yuichi was acting oddly, usually so austere, but his emotions breaking through, he referring to Yuichi to an Inn since he’d not been sleeping well. Chika then confides his sense of they’re deep affection for each other and she should go after him, Mikage numbed with his deduction. He goes on to figure out what the hold up was besides Mikage’s trip, she relenting by deciding to give tracking him down some thought, Chika relaying how Yuichi’s state of mind needed changing what with his mother’s death affecting him in such a bad way. As Mikage walks Chika out, he breaking down loudly, he also gives her the information on the Inn. As he leaves, Mikage affected with his emotion, but still undecided about her next move, she end up doing nothing about it and begins her trip to Izu with Sensei, other staff, and a cameraman, Mikage reverting back to thinking this was best, the muddled feelings being too difficult to sort.

Later in the evening, Mikage goes to Sensei’s room to ask if she’d be allowed to go get a meal since the Inn served only veggies she didn’t like, she not minding, and once Mikage had gone out walking, she discovering she’d love to be on the road more often, but Yuichi having put too much of an impression on her. When reaching the first restaurant she still saw open with only one other patron, she goes in and gives her order. As she waits, she uses the phone sitting on the counter and dials Yuichi’s Inn, when he answers, he deduces how Mikage got the number, she asking about the food there, tofu being the answer, after they joking about not eating apart, together. Mikage asks about how long he’d stay, she not believing his reply of it not being long, the two hanging up soon after, Mikage’s sense of isolation returning, but once her katsudon was done and tasted, she abruptly deciding to order a second and both made to go, she remembering Sensei had mentioned this place and was disappointed they couldn’t hit it.

Mikage debated her next move, which is again made for her when a taxi pulls up, she getting him to agree to the longish fare, when they get there, the cabbie able to arrive in decent time, she then having to contemplate how she’d get into Yuichi’s room since no one at front desk was answering, it after midnight, and the lights in all the rooms being off, she then sensing which room it was and climbing to it, but getting stuck, and after a few moments, able to pull herself up, but sustaining an injury. Now bleeding and after take a rest, she knocks on the window, Yuichi answering after a minute, disbelieving he was seeing her at first, but once getting her inside, gives her tea whilst she insisted he eat the katsudon she’d gotten for him. Her original feeling of gloom permeated and dissipated with the memories they’d shared. Before leaving, she finally gets her thoughts out about wanting to be with him, but for him to think on it until he felt better, after the two joke about Yuichi wanting to exude masculinity when Mikage saw him, they part. Mikage is next awoken by footfalls outside her door, she viewing the snowstorm which moved in, and getting up when Sensei called. On their final day of the trip, they had a French menu, Mikage taking a walk on an unbearably cold day on the beach, only warmed by a can of coffee (I’ve had one before, heated with chemicals at the sealed bottom, not bad stuff), when returning and readying a hot shower and tea, Yuichi calls, she informing him of the foodstuffs she’d sent ahead, he declaring he’d be picking her up, and so giving him the information of when and where, contentedly.

This was a wonderful story, quite gripping and entertaining. The fact it didn’t really have chapters didn’t make it difficult to read due to the fascination the writing brought. I’m glad I decided to read this on a whim.

Moonlight Shadow

Hitoshi was given a bell which he carried with him on his case he used as a wallet, the Narrator giving this as a token of love, which he would keep close to him until the end (…of the story?). The two were in the same sophomore committee for a field trip, their time together brief since being in separate groups when arriving, they only spending time together on the train. When they’re about to join their groups, the Narrator, Satsuki (annoyingly not introduced until five pages later) gives Hitoshi a spur-of-the-moment gift of the bell left behind by her cat. She was impressed with his sensitivity in reacting to her present, all day the two thinking of the bell and their shared memory, upon returning, head-over-heels for each other. The bell had stayed with them for almost four years through all the poignant moments of their time together. Then Satsuki confesses to sensing Hitoshi’s fuzziness in reality to her, she considering if this thought was a bad omen of the future, it would be quite unfortunate.

Hitoshi was gone by the time Satsuki was twenty, she drastically changed by his death, feeling something terrible must now occur to her because of her instability. Her connection to him involved many major firsts in her life which they were able to learn together, but now she couldn’t stand living for not having Hitoshi. Satsuki takes up running for two months after Hitoshi’s death (Octopus Pie having a similar story when Hanna takes up running after splitting with Marek, more funny, but still sad), she getting terrible sleep with consistent dreams of Hitoshi. Her depression led to feeling nauseous and instead of becoming anxious for dawn to rise, she’d started jogging. During the day, she would distract herself with buddies, she awaiting the day she’d have her eureka moment. Even after Hitoshi’s death, Satsuki still enjoyed the river which he had lived on the other side of, they meeting on the bridge, frequently. She meditated how these times of rest helped her stay sane for the day.

The next morning she is woken with a nightmare, prepares to run, but finds when doing so, brought difficulty in breathing, deciding to push through it. When reaching the bridge and pouring some tea for herself, she’s snuck up on by a lady asking for a cup (presumptuous), Satsuki dropping her thermos over the ledge, the lady seeming friendly and light-spirited, so once taking a sip herself, offers the woman the rest, she offering to replace the thermos. The woman then states how she’d arrived recently from a fairly distant place to view a sight only seen once a century, she then inquiring if Satsuki knew of this, but when being told she hadn’t, agrees to share what the phenomenon was in some time. Satsuki doesn’t wait though, she realizing she needed to be heading back, then Urara introduces herself, she stating of hopefully seeing her again.

Satsuki thinks how strange Urara was, and when taking a second look at her, sees an expression which changed her features, but smiles and waves again when looking away from the river and sees her staring. She wonders about the type of person she could be as she continues on, then Hiiragi, Hitoshi’s brother is mentioned to stepping to the beat of his own drummer, his eighteenth birthday “this month”. When Satsuki meets him after his class, he was in full sailor girl uniform, Satsuki horrified, but able to act natural for his nonchalance. As they order tea, Satsuki notices a movement Hiiragi did, which reminded her of Hitoshi, the two now having a system of making light of it so as to throw away the sadness they felt. Then it’s elaborated on Hiiragi losing his girlfriend, Yumiko the same night Hitoshi had given her a ride to the train station, whilst Hitoshi not being at fault, both of their lives having been taken.

Hiiragi makes chit chat about her running, then suggests they go to a new spot with delicious tempura on rice, after how the running didn’t seem to help her getting chunky. Satsuki knew she’d been actually losing weight, but plays along, agreeing and then explains how the outfit was Yumiko’s, his late girlfriend, her parents attempting to have him stop, but he having a good laugh over it, Satsuki having asked about it and he explaining it made him hurt less. Satsuki realizes then they had a new expression for their faces which conveyed the attempt to bury the thought of their partners. Then Satsuki states of having to let her parents know she wasn’t coming home for dinner, Hiiragi planning on ordering out for delivery for his mother, she saying how nice the gesture was. When Satsuki had first been informed by Hitoshi of his younger brother, he’d specified how his weirdness made him worry whether it could affect Satsuki still liking him, also mentioning how adult-like he acted except around his family, but Hitoshi also stating it was most likely okay since Hiiragi enjoyed meeting “‘good people'”.

Then back to real time, they about to walk to the place across the river, Satsuki remembering she hadn’t seen Urara since the first morning they met, she getting another hit of pain when Hiiragi thought she’d hesitated and offering to drive her back, his kindness dripping of Hitoshi. Then Satsuki shares of meeting strange Urara, recalling the expression on her face seeming demonic and Satsuki thinking it was because she thought she shouldn’t have human feelings, then comparing how minor her melancholy seemed, wondering if she was in store for worse pain. As they neared the restaurant, they ended up having to go through the cross streets where Hitoshi and Yumiko had their accident, Satsuki and Hiiragi becoming solemn and trying to stay upbeat, she discovering how cells could get the feeling of people from the past, not comprehending the idea before, like when tour guides in castles would offer this possibility. She then begins to consider Hitoshi’s last thoughts and emotions, as well as how it would’ve looked at night and whether this night looked similarly. She noted how beautiful the moon was as Hiiragi nudged her to cross the street. They were eating when Satsuki regained a luster for life caused by the meal, she complimenting it so hard, the employee was embarrassed.

One afternoon, Satsuki had gotten sick, too ill to run, she realizing the phone was ringing and having to pick up for no one else at the house. She’s surprised to learn Urara was calling to see if she could meet up, Satsuki agreeing, but also asking how she’d discovered her number, Urara good-naturedly relating how she wanted it, so it came (synchronicity), Satsuki accepting this due to how she explained it. Urara then informs Satsuki to join her at a department store in the thermos area, Satsuki knowing she shouldn’t leave for her cold, but too intrigued, following her gut. Making sure to dress warmly, Satsuki rides her bicycle, noticing the weather promising spring, everyone outside seeming to go about their business pleasantly, whilst Satsuki remained insouciant, wanting her heart to finish the job of breaking already. When she sees Urara, she notes how she looked closer in age to herself this time, when Urara sees Satsuki, she notices immediately she was sick and getting straight down to showing the different sorts of thermoses available to choose from, she feeling much better for Urara’s exuberance.

After Satsuki detected one, they have tea, she then giving Satsuki a variety of tea to break in the new thermos with since a shop owner closing his shop gave away a bunch to her, Satsuki again grateful. She then asks once more about how Urara had come by her number, she divulging more information about how she’d become proficient in sensing them, allowing her finger to choose without thinking, Satsuki wanting to trust this since she felt like she’d known Urara a long time ago, and her nature made one susceptible to accepting her far-fetched explanations. Satsuki describes her gratitude in a strange way, she being as euphoric as a “lover”, Urara not missing a beat and advising Satsuki feel better by the day after next, Satsuki deducing the phenomenon must be the reason, which Urara admits, also relaying the hour to be at the bridge, she asking about what it could be and Urara finally confiding how if all progressed accordingly, Satsuki may see a kind of supernatural sight, she sensing Satsuki had a deep bond with the river making it more possible she’d succeed in seeing it, whatever it was being unique. Satsuki dazedly finalizes the meeting, she then flashing back to Hitoshi and her last time at the bridge being a fine one, he getting ready for a boys night, Satsuki a healthy amount plumper and much more content. When they say their goodnight’s, Satsuki hears the bell as he walks off. She then confesses how terrible their fights could be, the two also having affairs with others, they both wounding the other countless times, but overall their time together being happy.

Satsuki used to dream how she’d stop him from leaving, the memory consistently having the affect of upsetting her and bottling her pain in public hurting more. As Urara and she split later, she was wishing this something did happen, but also soothing herself with the thought of still being pleased by the both of them being at the river, regardless of the outcome. As she’s about to reach her bicycle, she spots Hiiragi, in normal-wear, she thinking he was playing hooky and instead of calling to him for weakness, walks in his direction, but he going off, fortunately in the direction she needed, unfortunately at a speed she couldn’t equal. Hiiragi soon stops in front of a tennis shop though, Yumiko having played, he blankly staring within, Satsuki not making herself known, she deciding she wouldn’t go up to him, seeing the look of a bird searching for its mother on his face, it being adorable, but also feeling down about how his presence soothed her because of reminding her of Hitoshi. When she had first met Yumiko, she couldn’t imagine the hold she had on Hiiragi, she seeming average in most ways, but for whatever reason, she complimenting him in her way. Hitoshi relays to her it was because of her tennis abilities, they watching a finals game, where the two realized Hiiragi was right, and her friendship to the girl budding, which made the events later even more terrible to think on. Satsuki leaves Hiiragi without saying hello and decides to not mention ever having seen him, her illness getting worse. She awakens from a dream again, still sick and debating her run, wanting dawn to break, instead making tea, returning to her room, and looking out her window to see Urara, whom mimes permission to pass their front gate, she nodding. Urara then explains being on her way home from work, noting how terrible Satsuki looked and offering a vitamin C candy and some comforting advice, afterwards closing her window for her, she feeling better enough to catch a few more z’s.

Satsuki gets much more rest, she awaking early in the evening, questioning whether she’d actually spoken with Urara, also wondering if more horrible nights were in her future, she then surprised by a visit from Hiiragi, whom had called, learned of the sickness from her mother and dropping by to see how she was feeling. He then shows her his get well gift of KFC, enough for them both so it being time to dig in. During this, Hiiragi opens up with letting her know of how concerned he’d been for her and to call him if she felt too alone, glad and surprised he’d said anything. Later, she sleeps better than she had been in a long time, the aid of medicine helping, she next waking at the right hour to prepare her meet up with Urara. She still goes for a run, and Urara is waiting for her at the designated spot, she greeting her warmly and warning her what to do as the time neared, she mentioning of their dimension about to change, and not to move or say anything when they viewed whatever they would see across the river. As the sky lightened, first Satsuki hears a bell, then notices Urara had disappeared, when looking back at the river, she sees Hitoshi at the other shore, breaking down, but not saying a word, he waving to her as his image faded with dawn, she again seeing Urara and telling her how worth the experience had been.

When Urara shares of the Weaver Festival Phenomenon whilst they drank tea in a shop, she explains how the vision was produced, she also having lost a significant other, she then mentioning of seeing Satsuki the first night and deciding to extend the invitation. Satsuki then wonders what plans Urara had next for herself, whom she’d seen, as well as still curious about the sort of person she truly was, unable to say anything to her. Urara states how the moment having allowed them to have a second chance with goodbye’s should ease their minds, Satsuki still in much agony over the memory, she finally inquiring after Urara’s next destination and she giving the vague answer of seeing each other again, as well as knowing Satsuki’s number, they parting, and she considering what Urara had done for her. Satsuki is next waiting at Hiiragi’s school to deliver his birthday present of a record to him, when he dashes out claiming to have seen Yumiko, he not wearing her uniform. He shares how one night he’d been woken up seeing Yumiko walk through his door (after opening it, of course) and taking the sailor suit, she then mouthing, “‘Bye-bye'”, waving, and he going back to sleep, the next morning unable to locate the outfit. When questioning his own sanity lightly, Satsuki suggests he start running when getting those emotions, he cracking up. Then from Hitoshi’s perspective, he states of having to be on the move, then giving an idea of Urara being a part of him and grateful of Satsuki waving goodbye to him.

This was an interesting and odd one, as well, but there’s something about Kitchen where the characters hold one’s attention more, connecting with Mikage, and the goodness of Eriko. Overall worth it, quite an easy read on top of everything, too.


When We Were Orphans

London 24/Jul./1930, but starts in the Summer of 1923, where the Narrator has gone against his Aunt’s wishes to return to Shropshire, rents a flat in Kensington, and being quite happy by himself. During a stroll he meets an old school chum, James Osbourne and invites him to come by sometime. The Narrator, or Christopher Banks (as we learn later in the chapter) describes his quaint accommodations, and when Osbourne comes by one morning, Christopher is able to entertain him without it seeming he were his first guest (which he was). Osbourne compliments his room, they catching up on their classmates lives, as well as their own. Then they have an intellectual discussion about German philosophy, showing off either’s studies from different schools, Osbourne then sharing his plans for his career, unbelieving Christopher hadn’t an idea what he’d do yet. He then alluding to having an inkling and would confide further when they developed. Near noon Osbourne readies to leave, then remembering to invite Christopher to a party for a well-known man, Christopher at first not answering and then agreeing after a candid thought from Osbourne about what he was like in school bringing some bitterness. Then a flashback of the moment Osbourne must have been referring is shown, and Christopher having finally asked about Osbourne’s “well connectedness”. Christopher goes into why Osbourne’s evaluation of he being a bit of a fish out of water, bothered him, since he hadn’t felt like he stuck out at all. He didn’t make obvious his interest in private investigating crime, which was also why he didn’t share his career plans with Osbourne.

Although, it becomes clear Christopher may have been more transparent than he realized, when a birthday present from his school chums revealed a case with a magnifying glass inside. The boys fates are shared after this, both dying young, one from war, the other, illness. The only other instance of his ambitions being noted amongst classmates, being when he’d walked into the middle of a conversation about himself which a boy had broken the silence upon his entering, of he not seeming a Sherlock type. The last moment being an overheard discussion between his Aunt and her friends, she deciding she would nip his flightiness in the bud when seeing him using his over-active imagination playing a game he used to play with a boy called Akira. After, Christopher notes his discomfort by Osbourne’s words were only momentary and goes for a walk soon after, he imagining some of the people who could be at the party could possibly including some well-known detectives and fantasized they would take a paternal interest in his career. Whilst his attendance of the night’s coming party would be fruitful, not so much when regarding the anti-social habits of detectives. Instead, the “well-connected” people Osbourne referred were from the business and government-based world. Christopher was flustered with his feeling out of place, and when finally separating from Osbourne, meets an older gentleman whom offers to identify some of the people there, the man noticing Christopher’s attention being captured by a young woman, not for her beauty (oh, no), but because of certain characteristics and body language which suggested a dark underbelly, which intrigued him.

The man, whilst being thorough with names and occupations of others in the room, only provided a name for the lady, Sarah Hastings, they moving on and the man inquiring about what sort of career Christopher was aiming, after the man learns this, he attempts to advise a back up career due to how flighty dreams tend to float away. After not learning much after, Osbourne was able to shed a little more light on Sarah’s history, most recently her ending an engagement. As Christopher attended more hoity-toity functions, his list of facts of Sarah grew, she an opinionated, celebrity-seeking sort. He continued to follow her movements, until finally getting a chance to speak with her two years later. Once he’d made one headline, he felt confident enough to approach her in a hotel they’d both been occupying the dining area of, he officially introducing himself. She wasn’t particularly receptive, and he felt like a rube when leaving her, questioning whether his friends had been taking the piss when congratulating him. He did come to learn he’d been taking interest in a social way he shouldn’t concern himself with, from then on focusing on learning more about previous detectives and how they came to their own notoriety.

Christopher then mentions a chance meeting with a Colonel Chamberlain, whom he’d known when he was a boy, this occurring a couple months after Sarah had embarrassed him. They both were in a small bookstore and the man stood next to him for some time before Christopher looked up and recognized him. They chatted a bit, he noting how timid and uncomfortable Chamberlain seemed compared to his memories. When they were readying to part, Christopher offers to entertain him at a nice restaurant the next night, he having to push fairly hard for Chamberlain to agree. When they met on the designated night, Christopher does what he’d planned, aiming to impress the Colonel, the man referring to the last time they’d spent time with each other being on a ship, Christopher’s change, obvious to the way he’d been back then. Christopher flashes back to his journey from Shanghai, Chamberlain in the room as his voyage is discussed. Then his parents fates are alluded to, causing his journey to England, but he not wanting to leave since the “best detectives in Shanghai” were on the case to locate his missing parents, not thinking he’d need to be sent away in the likelihood they’d succeed. Chamberlain regards the boy’s words as a possibility, but thinks perhaps he should go anyways and his parents will decide to move with him, the Colonel listening soberly to Christopher recounting his memories. He in turn shares his own, seeming to almost say something which conveyed the odd nature of his parents going missing, but then Christopher gets caught up on how he’d been perceived, again, he only recalling one occasion he actually could’ve been a “sniveling little squirt”, but the Colonel presuming the whole voyage had been rife with these qualities.

As their night of reminiscences ended, Christopher felt insouciant toward the man, most likely due to the circumstances of their meeting, feeling only a minor amount of guilt when hearing of the Colonel’s death a year later. Then back to listing his minor encounters with Sarah, the next a few more years down the road, another high profile case under his belt, and testing a walk-by near her as he left. He plays at not caring about her reaction much, due to his busy life and only beginning to experience his notoriety, he truly making a name for himself about a year later. He claims he would’ve forgotten Sarah completely if not for bumping into Joseph Turner, whom invites him to a dinner party which he declined in attending, Joseph mentioning how Sarah had asked after him, she then discovering him after he’d heard similar stories from other friends. She accosts him in the middle of his examination of a pond, where the victim of his current case had been found in. Her reasons for being there were in relation to she knowing the family of the victim, and after talking back and forth she shares how, if Christopher succeeded in pointing out the culprit, the town would be so grateful, they’d make Christopher a legend. After this buttering up, Sarah asks to be invited to a social function as Christopher’s guest, he passive-aggressively denying her after making an excuse and then she referring to them as ‘such good friends’, apparently taking the cake since Christopher was well aware what they were and weren’t.

Christopher detected the mystery behind the death of the man murdered, he not giving much thought to Sarah’s statement of meeting him at the dinner. She living up to her word, though, Christopher entertaining her flattering small talk until being no longer amused by it, but not showing this change in attitude, instead disengaging her arm from his, she approaching him again to deny he’d ditch her in such a way, but he also living up to his actions, walking off. Only after being in the room fifteen minutes does Christopher notice Sarah had made it to the check-in area, she attempting to be allowed in. Eventually she gets her way, Christopher being sure to stay away from her whilst feeling somewhat guilty for his inaction, but after noticing a genuine smile from her, he thinks perhaps she had no hard feelings for having succeeded in her goal to attend. Christopher also had his chance to speak with the guest of honor, he finally taking a moment to ask if he’d met an Akira Yamashita during his visit to Shanghai, the diplomat confirming he hadn’t. When Sarah appeared, Christopher makes up an excuse to leave, and moves off. Later, he runs into her again on a balcony, she stating the greatness of the night she’d had, the two having a somewhat enlightening chat about Sarah’s needs and intentions for why she felt it obligatory she be present there, it stemming from discovering a man whom planned on helping the world be greater, Christopher not holding her actions against her since now having a better understanding of her, especially after she mentioned his childhood buddy Akira, throwing him off, he leaving her there, only considering momentarily to offer his accompaniment out.

Then 15/May/1931, in London, Christopher remembers an argument Akira and he had over the word ‘chip’ and Akira meaning ‘chap’, he having started his English lessons and was too proud to give in. When they next hang out together, Christopher had pretty much forgotten the argument until Akira called him chap, Christopher not pressing the issue, he stating whilst he believed he was the more intelligent of the two, Akira had more experience beyond the Settlement where they resided, Christopher not having been in the true city of Shanghai, but protected within the International colony boundaries, Akira confessing stories of his gruesome experiences. When sharing one with his mother, he didn’t like her response of disproving the tale so from then on kept them to himself, Akira acting reverentially toward his mother, he deciphering why this could be possibly having to do with a time the health inspector came to their house. When Akira came by after the inspector, the two moved indoors to Christopher’s playroom, the two halting their game when hearing his mother and the inspector raising their voices near the room. The two witnessed as Christopher’s mother defended the integrity of their loyal servants regardless of the city they came from having an outbreak of opium addiction, Akira seeming to have gotten a strong impression of his mother during this argument. Christopher then remembers his mother’s part in opposing the company they worked for over their small-minded policies. He then regards his decision to confide in Sarah about Akira no longer bothering him. Another chance meeting is related when both were invited to a mutual buddy’s lunch, it going fine until one of the ladies eventually gets everyone’s attention over giving advice about how to deal with her mother, Sarah leaving when the topic stuck, Christopher following to learn of a painful realization from Sarah about her own mother, the two then going on a double-decker bus, enjoying the ride, he not having gone before since being overwhelmed by being transported somewhere he didn’t know and getting lost by himself. They spoke of random, pleasant topics, he divulging more about Akira without meaning to, but in the end wondering if his memories of Shanghai were as exact as he thought, believing a question he originally believed was posed to the health inspector, now could have been directed at his father during a verbal dispute between his parents.

Whether this was before or after the health inspector’s visit, Christopher couldn’t remember, but he was studying in an anteroom which was used as a library, when he heard his parents arguing, he attempts to hear more, but only deciphers phrases when they forgot to keep their voices lowered. Christopher then hears the same phrase his mother used, it seeming to fit better with the other snippets more so than her argument with the inspector’s, but who knows. After this argument, it stayed cold between his parents for longer than normal, and during a chat with Akira at his home, which was uniquely mixed Japanese with Western style, Christopher posed his question to him, whom had an interesting take on the reason parents didn’t talk to each other, it connected to the child not living up to their heritage, and how the child’s part was being the glue to the family staying together, Christopher having the opportunity to speak with his Uncle Philip on the subject. He shares of Philip not being a blood relative, but a family friend whom had worked at the same company for a number of years before leaving and starting an organization to help the conditions of the Chinese sections of the city. Uncle Philip helped ease his mind a bit over his becoming more English for his parents.

The same summer, Akira was wearing down his likability by constantly bragging of Japan’s greatness compared to English, this happening more since his upcoming enrollment in a Japanese school, by the time he had to leave, Christopher not feeling bad to see him go. At least not until starting to hang out with some other English boys he would periodically chum around with and they making him feel like the odd man out when there school friends came along, Christopher the only one whom goes to a different school. He relates some important memories of the fall during Akira’s transfer, one regarding a day on one of his mother’s meetings, Uncle Philip in attendance, and when the meeting had ended, his mother and Philip staying behind to pore over some papers until his father entered (he not joining these meetings) and began conversing amiably with Philip, Christopher’s mother leaving the room looking peeved. Later, Philip offers they should go to the racecourse, and whilst nine-year-old Christopher was aware he was the sole one to decide whether he, his mother, and Philip would go, or stay with his father, he ended up being coaxed to decide to go, with his mother’s influence. Christopher then remembers an out of the ordinary mannerism uncommon to his father, he bragging about himself, once around the dinner table, the second when they were all attending a brass band playing in the park, both times essentially ignored by his mother, but Christopher made aware of another memory with an incident his father alluded to him whilst the band played, he remembering of a day when he and his mother were near his father’s study naming the vessels in pictures on the wall when his mother stopped and abruptly opened the door where they both viewed his father slouched over his desk, he speaking loudly about the being stuck there and wouldn’t be able to return to England. Other than his father’s odd speech, nothing much of interest happened during the fall or winter until Christopher received the news from a servant of Akira’s return.

Christopher learned Akira wouldn’t be returning to his new school, but would continue at his old one, which made Christopher happy. Akira refrained from speaking of his time at his new school, the two picking up where they’d left off, but Christopher witnessing a change in character when the boys were playing and Akira had noticed a tear in his kimono, he becoming withdrawn over the “bad thing” he’d caused, believing his parents would send him back to Japan, where Christopher soon learned and sensed the extent of Akira’s being singled out by school staff and students, as well as the family he had stayed with, so much so, his parents had taken him out of school in the middle of term. What also caused Akira apprehension was knowing he was the only one wanting to remain in Shanghai, his sister and parents wishing to move to Japan. The torn sleeve didn’t cause such a dire repercussion as Akira feared, but as he continued to make small mistakes during the next few months, Christopher comes to the “robbery” incident which had brought Sarah’s curiosity on their bus ride. First is explained how Akira reacted with fear toward one of his family’s longest employed servants, Ling Tien, Christopher not asking why Akira hid whenever the man passed them any longer. When they got older, Akira shared the man’s obsession with severed hands, human and ape, alike. Ling apparently having discovered how to change the hands into spiders. After this, the eight-year-old Akira would periodically dare Christopher to get closer to Ling’s room. Akira would go as far as he could and then had Christopher do the same, he not having much fun when going to Akira’s house because of this. The two finally reach Akira’s goal of entering Ling’s room when they are ten, they stealing something which the two didn’t consider the repercussions, this also being Christopher’s last year in Shanghai, unbeknownst to him, yet. On the day they finally enter the room, Akira waited for the maid to fall asleep downstairs, the boys going into the room, and Akira claiming the spiders were in a chest, the lotion on the side table, magic, the longer they lingered, the more Christopher became paranoid they’d be seen. Akira swipes the bottle, and the boys hasten out, they proceeding to test the lotion, and Akira hiding it with other treasured belongings before putting it back.

The next day when Akira came to Christopher’s house, he looked bothered, Christopher not asking, but once doing so, Akira shares of having confided in his sister of their deed, she worrying him with further claims of previous people disappearing for attempting the same, and Akira not having the guts to put the lotion back, Ling coming back in three days. Akira was visibly upset, but Christopher placates him with putting the bottle away the way they’d taken it, Akira looking relieved. They make plans to meet up the next day, late afternoon, Christopher remembering partially how his father left for work, his mother going out, and he lunching with the maid before biding his time until three. After climbing a tree higher than he ever had, he goes home to check the hour, finding his mother out front speaking with policemen, his mother relating this to him when she came in to instruct he wait for her within the library, his father not having arrived at his office. By the time his mother came in to inform him of the police searching for his father, and he may well turn up by dinner, it was too late to help Akira with returning the lotion, Christopher peeved by being waylaid and knowing Akira would be mad. Christopher’s mother had from then on showed moments of aloofness in the coming weeks and offhandedly spoke of Christopher, on the subject of his father, being “proud of what he’s done”.

The next few days Christopher contemplates what he’d say to Akira when he saw him next, finally hearing him riding his sister’s bicycle, Christopher approaching and blatantly apologizing, but couldn’t confess his father missing, instead retreating back to his home. Another few days pass, when Akira comes to call for Christopher to play, he realizing he’d heard about his father. Then Christopher remembers a chat with his mother after this in relation to the statistics his father was safe and to stay optimistic. Akira and Christopher’s imaginative game plays of detective search for Christopher’s father would ensue. He then mentions this would continue during his first days in England. Christopher, after a month finally is told what happened with Ling’s bottle, Akira owing his sister, now, he then asking if Christopher would have to go back to England, he sure his mother wouldn’t want to return without his father. Christopher also shares a memory which at first he believed had no bearing on his parents’ disappearance, but upon the recollection resurfacing, sees it in a new light, he having the motivation to continue the search himself someday, but he being too busy to take the time off. When he’d requested more information on the opium trade from his source in Shanghai, he receives a newspaper clipping with picture, he believing he recognized one of the men, remembering later the man had come to their home a few weeks after his father had gone missing. Next he heard his mother shouting insults at the man as he retreated to his car. Christopher not entirely certain the man in the picture and the one whom came to his home were the same, but his face and the events implying it was (those particular pieces of information seem more sound than Ishiguro attempts to let on, oddly). He now thinks this information would enlighten him to what happened, and where his parents were now.

Christopher then confides what his young self suspiciously supposed Uncle Philip had in common with the man whom came by, which brought into what had ended up happening to their relationship, Christopher having decided to go with his Uncle Philip one day, he having amped up his anxious watchful eye on his mother, and believing she was safe with him, the two calling for him and Uncle Philip asking if he was interested in going off to acquire an accordion, Philip’s behavior odd, but not worryingly so to Christopher, even after being told to wave to his mother a second time, and Philip’s silence on the ride. When Philip stops the carriage and explains they’d walk, Christopher realizes, especially after Philip mentions of not wanting to have him get hurt, but sounding disappointed after Christopher responded of knowing where they were, Philip dashes of, and Christopher runs for home. He discovers no on, but Mei Li, crying at Christopher’s work table, he disgusted by she not having any power to control the situation which had occurred. Christopher, now having finished putting down his recollections, considers when he does return to Shanghai, all the places Akira would show him, then thinking of the work he’d need to make up for due to his bus ride with Sarah.

London, 12/April/1937 – By this time, Christopher’s Aunt has died and left him an inheritance with which he bought a house. A Miss Givens with a young lady, Jennifer have come back from shopping, and Christopher is gladdened by a letter he’s been sent. When he does finally go down to greet them properly, Jennifer makes clear Christopher is an Uncle figure, Miss Givens playing a household role, but not the maid, whom had recently concluded working for Christopher. Soon it’s hinted Miss Givens is a guardian of Jennifer. Then Christopher goes back to explain how he’d discovered Jennifer through Osbourne three years back. Christopher was speaking with one of the guests of her charity work with orphans and mentioned Jennifer’s “situation”, after everyone was ready to leave, he informs the woman he’d like to help her, if not take her in himself (her story similar to his own). After a few meetings, Jennifer is delivered to his home, she having an opinion on the nanny to be hired for her. Jennifer also reminded Christopher of himself, she being wise beyond her years and positive in the odds of negativity ( perhaps on the lofty side for attributes to Christopher, I still feel he’s made up some nice, cool moments for himself during his childhood). Christopher then began planning a trip of indeterminate length, spurring him on being a perceived coldness he sensed from those he spoke with, a relation to a case of dead children and the inspector’s reaction to Christopher’s conclusion and support in the strength it took to work the sort of jobs they had. Another memory of a lecture and subsequent conversation between he and a clergyman he’d recently worked with about the larger issues in Shanghai outweighing much of England’s current issues. Christopher recalls many similar situations, one other involving Sarah at a wedding they’d both attended.

The wedding took place over a year previous, Christopher seeing Sir Cecil Medhurst, whom now was married to Sarah, entering the church, and after the ceremony, Sarah approaches, this having also been quite awhile since they’d spoken, she inviting him to visit with them some time. She then relating it would most likely need to happen after their trip to the Far East, later on she divulging they were going to Shanghai, Christopher seeing this as the push he required to make real his plans to go back. Christopher speaks with Miss Givens of his plans, he deciding to break the news to Jennifer himself. He reminisces his first visit with Jennifer at her new school to deliver what he’d found of her missing luggage, and only hopes his next visit won’t be too difficult for her.

Cathay Hotel, Shanghai 20/Sept./1937 – Christopher relates how different Shanghai seemed due to certain customs, he being led into a hotel to watch a cabaret show recommended by his hosts. They go to their table, the walls occupied by high society resident and International guests, Christopher getting the idea he was being noticed because of those around him looking at the men seated, but he believing they were staring at him. Christopher, over the evening soon became suspicious of one of his hosts, of whom attempts to have him accept “assistants” with his work, Christopher bringing up his interest in the Yellow Snake killings, the other host not having heard of this before. Christopher then requests to speak with the informant, the one host discouraging, but responding he’d ask. Then the other host begins speaking of a welcome ceremony for his parents, everyone then becoming distracted by the gunfire outside, and after the music began, Christopher meeting Sarah. He doesn’t put together the possible double meaning of she and her husband being rescued from Shanghai.

Christopher is shown working a case all day, then goes to a club he’d become acquainted with, along with the doorman he spoke with, soon being instructed where he could locate Sarah and Sir Cecil. As he walked, he thought of how he’d believed he’d seen Akira a few nights after his arrival and hoping he’d see him again and in a way he thought would be a more meaningful beginning to their first meeting. Christopher lets it go and thinks of the case, leaving the possibility of locating Akira for later, and believing it possible to run into him once more due to Shanghai’s size. Christopher continues on to the hotel of Sarah and Cecil, but soon discovers it’s more of a casino, and believes Cecil wouldn’t bring Sarah to such a place, when finally seeing him in one of the rooms, Sarah seated in a corner. She greets him, surprised he’d found them there, she asking after his dreary day, he not having made any progress, yet (I realize now, the problem with Christopher is he constantly seems to have to correct the exact reasons of what he’s feeling when someone guesses about how he looks, it’s constant). Soon Christopher spots how drunk Cecil is, whilst gambling his money away, Sarah asking if Christopher could go find their driver outside, and once he’d done so, overhears the tail end of a conversation where Cecil is putting down Sarah for making him look bad inside, his mood getting no rosier when they reached their hotel and he’d asked a similar question of whether his young wife looked more like an escort to those within the casino. When Sarah puts him to bed, she again insists everything between she and Cecil were fine, Christopher leaving her there, but still wondering of her earlier words.

Cathay Hotel, Shanghai 29/Sept./1937 – Christopher was on his way to confront MacDonald, on of his hosts on getting his interview with Yellow Snake, when interrupted by Grayson, the other host about Christopher’s role in the ceremony for his parents, he leaving Grayson with encouragement for his plans so far, and then considering his current case, and how an old school acquaintance, Anthony Morgan brings the case to the forefront of his mind. A few nights after his arrival in Shanghai, he’d met up with Anthony, the two catching up, and the latter sharing his experience thus far in the city, mostly to do with his chauffeurs not being up to par. Anthony soon has Christopher accompanying him somewhere, and when Anthony made the same mistake of thinking Christopher was similar to himself in the old days, “a miserable loner” Christopher is quick to put him to rights. When they arrive at a home, Christopher realizes wherever they were going would be a small group affair, the two apparently having interrupted a Chinese family’s dinner. Christopher then realizes Anthony has taken him to his old home, he having forgotten an agreement had been made years ago in regards to his eventual return, the head of the house, an old man, ready to show him around.

Christopher met most of the rooms with no recollection, until seeing the library, it having been altered, learning the owners who had lived there, including those currently, had renovated many areas of the home. Speaking with the old man made Christopher think of some of his plans for the home, in regards to whom would take what room, his mother, Jennifer, and Mei Li, whom he’d locate and offer a place with them again, as promised. The only other relation in his old home, being of a memory of he and his mother racing in the park, Christopher getting upset for not successfully showing how much faster he’d become as a runner, his mother keeping up easily, and not noticing. The rest of his visit is glossed over with parting ways with the family amicably after more pleasant chat, it not going so smoothly with Anthony, Christopher debating possibly taking responsibility it having started with a question of whether Anthony had heard of Inspector Kung. Anthony then realizes Christopher was speaking of a man whom had drastically changed his lifestyle, and hadn’t shown reverence for his detective work through his comments. Christopher denies the man Anthony spoke of could hardly be the same, he getting defensive and implying Anthony’s head had gone soft. They part on respectful, but sober terms, Christopher not having the guts to look for Kung until further research brought up his name, and on top of this, after speaking with MacDonald about him and getting a similar response, he getting overly irritated since an interview with Yellow Snake still hadn’t been set up. McDonald, refers him to the head of police, even though they didn’t have him in custody, Christopher insisting on some move being made by MacDonald, he threatening his credibility, so the man promising to look into it, and perhaps Christopher needing to look into speaking with the French which he admitted to having potential, but deciding if MacDonald still didn’t make progress, he’d work him over once more, and with more finesse.

Cathay Hotel, Shanghai 20/Oct./1937 – Christopher currently didn’t know his exact location, other than being in the French Concession. He was riding in a limo through narrow alleys, feeling foolish due to his automobile looking out of place, but he arrives at an Inn, and shown inside by a Chinese man with a single eye, going to a room and opening the door immediately after knocking. Someone was lying in a bed behind a screen, but moving when Christopher gets closer, former Inspector Kung described as emaciated, he not seeming to notice Christopher until after he’d repeated whom he was and his reasons for being there, Kung respectfully replying in English about having no tea for them, but to excuse his appearance since he planned to soon recover. Christopher agrees, and offers his compliments for once having been one of the best in his field, Kung humbled by his kindness, speaking of the difficulties of doing detective work in a seedy city like Shanghai, Kung offering Christopher a cigarette, but he declining. He then mentions how much he and his childhood friend had admired him, Kung all the more regretful for not having anything to offer his guest, Christopher reassuring him he may be able to provide a service more valuable, his memory of a particular case of a shooting in 1915. Kung acknowledges to knowing the one he mentioned and having fond memories of it being a part of his best work, Christopher mentioning how Kung had interrogated a man whom confessed to other crimes, Kung remembering this, Christopher asking about the addresses given in regards to where kidnap victims had been kept, Kung knowing and confiding nothing had been found. Christopher accepts this, but supposes the possibility of Kung not searching a house if powerful people had gotten in the way. Kung admitting this had happened with one home, but being lax on its search due to the case being worked on taking priority, Kung hesitantly inquiring about the house, Christopher supplying his opinion his parents were being kept there, he laying no blame on Kung for not attempting further inquiry, Kung then deducing Christopher must wish for him to locate the house, he attempting to conjure any details, but unsuccessful. Christopher pushes about whether Kung could remember whether the district had been in the International Settlement, unfortunately Kung not recalling, informing him sometimes he remembered much, and perhaps in a day or two he would know more.

Christopher gets back by nightfall, reviewing his notes and forgetting his uninformative visit, going to the dining room late, ready to leave after not having eaten much, when receiving a note from Sarah. At the time, he unaware it had to do with a disturbance at a Mr. Tony Keswick’s home, the note saying to meet her on the platform between the third and fourth floors. They had seen each other shortly three times after the night at the casino, the two not having the chance to mingle, but the night at Keswick’s seeming to be a significant event for the two. Christopher remembering when he’d arrived and most guests, including Sarah were locating their seats, Christopher leaving her to it, and after waiting for the proper time for across-the-room mingling, is trapped in a conversation with the lady seated next to him, by the time he’s able to see Sarah, the host is introducing the first entertainer, many guests having a turn on stage. When one particular man had reduced the room to hysterical laughing, Christopher thinks he sees Sarah laughing along, as well, until after some time, realizing she had actually been reduced to tears and crying quite hard. He walks to her table and gives her his hankie, she returning him with a grateful and quizzical look, but wipes her eyes and hazards a laugh with the rest, Christopher going back to his seat and not speaking with her until their formal goodbye when the night was over. Christopher had forgotten their exchange by this time, she turning to him when he knocks into a chair, and beckoning him closer so they could speak softly, she then confiding she was planning to go to Macao without Cecil, and was scared to go alone, asking if Christopher would join her, surprising him, but also tickling his sense of adventure which also relieved him, what with his current responsibilities building with pressure. Christopher then began to suppose she was baiting him somehow, he responding soberly about his work needing to be finished and how it’d look if he abandoned it here, Sarah attempting to have him see he shouldn’t let his project rule him, and not to wait anymore, otherwise the chance to leave would pass, and the need would be replaced with settling for less. Christopher only seeing roadblocks, what with he also having Jennifer to think about, he about to remember their last meeting, but Sarah responding with believing once they’d decided where they’d stay, she’d be sent for, Sarah convinced she could be a mother to the girl, Christopher then taking a turn in his decision and agreeing to go, she having planned how he should pack light and she would set up his transport to get him to where she’d wait for him. Christopher kisses her hand and awkwardly laughs, she taking her hand back and thanking him for agreeing, suggesting he leave before they were spotted.

Christopher had gone to sleep with plenty on his mind and upon waking the next day, had decided to get as much done as time would allow, he meeting his own expectations by lunch and noticing all of those interviewed leaving him feeling unsympathetic to the government’s current mess, since none spoken with conveyed responsibility for their actions being the wrong course. Due to this, Christopher felt he’d decided rightly and was gratified when imagining the upheaval his leaving would make. He then recalls his last conversation with Jennifer, she taking his news calmly and promising to “help” him when he returned from Japan, which made him wonder how she planned to do so, he then informed of a call from Kung for him. Kung is excited to share news which had resurfaced, he using a rejuvenating smoke to aid him, the location Christopher inquired being across from a man’s house, he sharing the details. When he gets off the call, he returns to his room to pack rather than finishing his lunch, the new information not affecting him like it normally would. He finishes early and is met by a young Chinese driver to escort him on his way.

On the ride, he flippantly asks the driver if he’s heard of Yeh Chen, the man mentioned by Kung, the driver confirming he had, Christopher letting the exchange lie there, until reaching the meeting place and asking the man to wait. He goes into the gramophone record store only seeing the Swiss worker behind the counter, he offering to play Christopher a song, he agreeing and after it’s on, gestures for him to go behind a curtained area, Sarah waiting inside. She explains (sort of) why she had three suitcases, one being dedicated to her teddy bear, then they share another kiss, longer and awkward, he then learning Cecil didn’t know any of Sarah’s plans, he setting out early for another round of fun and games. Christopher seems to become stressed over their few minutes wait, he informing her his need to speak with the driver once more, and learning Yeh Chen wasn’t living far from where they were, Christopher accepting the ride there, but the driver seeming to get confused when having to take a detour, they soon hearing gunshots, the driver then mentioning how they were no longer in the Settlement and Christopher going off on him by letting him know how much of a fool he thought the young man was, the kid getting out and walking away, Christopher going after him to apologize, attempting to have him return to the car, but when failing, tries getting the address to Yeh Chen’s, he being one of those without one. Christopher suggests directions being acceptable, the boy relenting, then pointing out a police station when asked, then returns in the car’s direction.

When going inside the station, Christopher supposed the place was mostly deserted other than the few cops who remained, one of them going to the back to share with whoever else of the reason for Christopher’s visit. The man returns to lead Christopher in back, he introduced to the Lieutenant and Captain, Christopher sharing his need of help, but would also be assisting them with his mission, as well (presumptuous). He then shares of the directions he’d been given, needing someone to show him where it was, he explaining the necessity of it being the end of a years long case in the search for his parents, the Lieutenant agreeing to lend him a few men upon their return due to the few they had to spare, Christopher conveying gratefulness, but also asking if it wouldn’t be possible to do so with a few already present for a minimal time, the Lieutenant denying this due to their inexperience, he then asking to see the directions and upon reading them, noting how whilst they were quite close, may be behind Japanese territory already, and difficult to get to, the Lieutenant then leads him to a spot he could see what he meant. They climb to the roof where the Lieutenant focuses Christopher’s attention to a length of smoke where factory workers lived, he describing how the families lived in cramped quarters, sometimes with three other families to a room, the Lieutenant showing where his men needed to be placed and how they’d keep “the warren” safe, it important to their victory. He then confides of the house Christopher wished to get to being in there, directing his gaze roughly to the roof of the building, also providing him with landmarks to help him stay on course. The Lieutenant then had to make clear how difficult Christopher’s mission would be with all the fighting going on, Christopher getting sidetracked by wanting the Lieutenant’s name so as to thank him at the upcoming ceremony for his parents, he instead having him accompany him back down to where his men had hopefully returned by now since believing the part he played being minor. When getting an update, the Lieutenant shares how his men had gotten stuck outside, Christopher asking the Lieutenant to guide him, and the man agreeing even whilst knowing the danger it brought to his mission’s success, the two setting out after he provided Christopher with a pistol.

As Christopher remembers being led by the Lieutenant, it seemed easy, but the moment was difficult, the ground hurting his footsies, and having to negotiate his way through holes in the walls, tired after only going through one, but having more to go. As he walks through areas with demolished homes, he grew angry about the men in charge of the International Settlement who had shirked their duties, the Lieutenant stopping soon after to declare they’d made it to their first landmark, the West Furnace, their second being the East and would then be close to Christopher’s destination. The Lieutenant then ushers him on so they could get out before sundown. They reach a place where they meet more soldiers defending a wall, and after the Lieutenant speaks with them, he shares with Christopher of they having gotten most of the Japanese to retreat, with the exception of a few stuck nearby. Christopher attempts to show disappointed indignation at the Lieutenant’s caution to stop where they were until the men were pacified, but the Lieutenant only states of the possibility it may not take long, then returns to the wall at the behest of a solder, gunfire breaking out, and the Lieutenant saving Christopher from getting hit by gunshots hitting the wall behind him. After the danger seemed to have passed temporarily, Christopher goes back to criticizing how the Lieutenant was running his defense, this after denying Christopher the idea of bringing the men they were with, along to where his parents were being held. Christopher then goes off on the Lieutenant for he feeling guilty by the reason they were fighting in the first place, believing the Lieutenant blamed him, but then making excuses for why he hadn’t cracked his case sooner, ending by belittling the man’s profession and intelligence (hwhat a schmuck). The Lieutenant takes this all in stride, by the end allowing if Christopher was resolute to move forward, despite the danger, it was more likely he’d be safer without him (a good idea, regardless), he then leading Christopher to a detour, by this time Christopher regretting his snotty explosion, but going along, the Lieutenant also giving him a flashlight, leaving him with the advice of waiting as long as possible before using it, claiming neutrality if he ran into soldiers, and ask the locals for directions (more than he deserves). He stops taking the Lieutenant’s advice when he doesn’t go through a certain passage for the smell, he getting stuck going further in the wrong direction. When coming across locals, he was able to get back on course, but no one could understand him so he could get a better idea of his surroundings.

Christopher comes across another group of people, children surrounding something, and when Christopher gets near enough, he recognizes Akira, unconscious and bound (a little let down with this reunion, but the upcoming moments between them are the most entertaining, at least in a comedic way, in this book). When the kids begin to gather again to prod Akira with a stick, Christopher keeps them at bay, and when Akira regains consciousness, Christopher attempts to show him whom he is, but Akira doesn’t catch it, (Christopher taking on a Bertie Wooster-like persona) Christopher seeing his finding him serendipitous, Akira then requesting to allow death to claim him, Christopher stating he isn’t close to death, only having “a rough time of it lately” (really, Christopher??), and help could be found, Akira responding with porky oaths, and attempting to spit at him again, Christopher responding by deciding getting him untied may help with his memory, but Akira vowing to kill him if he lets him loose, Christopher ignoring his threat for rationalizing the people around them would as soon kill him, and Akira needed his wounds tended before infection hit. When an old woman approaches them with a reaping hook, Christopher attempts to have her understand (in English), of Akira being good, and his friend (a woman whom doesn’t understand English). Then when it obviously fails to connect and he points his revolver at them (good plan), an old man steps forward whom speaks bloody English! (Where the fuck, fella?) He explaining why Akira was bound being for he killing an Aunt and stealing, Christopher arguing the impossibility and asking for him to confirm it was the same man they had. Meanwhile, after another attempt from Christopher to get Akira to recognize him works slowly, an argument arises in the crowd of people and Christopher again threatens them with his gun after he takes a young boy’s knife to cut Akira loose. When Christopher then has the old man translate of the group making a mistake and Akira would be helping to solve his case (pointlessly), he eventually has the man get the people to stay away, they panicking for Christopher swinging the gun around, and the two making their way out, (after a funny moment of Christopher and Akira almost falling).

As they stagger on, Christopher becomes overwhelmed with happiness for finally seeing his ole buddy and laughs giddily a few times, Akira joining in and it feeling like the old days. When Christopher gives them both a moment to rest, he checks Akira’s wounds again, but can’t tell if the bad smell was coming from them anymore or if it was caused by something he’d laid in. He attempts to clean the wounds, then gets into why he was there being to find his parents, Akira now able to help him get inside the house (like Ling Tien’s room? I wonder if one will flake out on the other…), Akira agreeing, but then making a confusing statement after admitting to knowing where the East Furnace was. Christopher catches it, as well and presumes the place he spoke was the International Settlement. They soon get back on their way though, Christopher now dealing with a cut foot from his shoe getting torn. Meanwhile, Christopher had mixed feelings about the circumstances around their meeting, wishing it had happened in gentler accommodations, they limping along until Akira hears soldiers, they closing in on the front lines, which needed to be passed in order to reach the house, but Akira then insisting they needed to rest and wait for light before continuing due to the fighting, Christopher giving in (even though he wanted to argue, more).

They stay put for awhile, until Christopher decides to move them to a safer area in their bombed shelter, Akira deciding Christopher must learn Japanese immediately in case Akira died or was unconscious, Christopher refusing anything so finite would happen, Akira then teaching him one word, since more was too difficult, they laughing over his pronunciation, and then Christopher passing out. When he wakes, dawn has broken, he accidentally waking Akira when attempting to examine him again, Akira wanting to relay a message to his child should he not make it, again Christopher refusing to accept the possibility and deciding they should move along before Akira got too deeply into a funk. The going was rougher due to both their energies being sapped overnight, and before setting out, Akira warns they must be more careful since the Chinese were near, the two seeing their handiwork involving spilled intestines. Soon after getting them to the East Furnace, Christopher leads them down the alley the Lieutenant pointed out, Akira weighing him down so much, they soon stop again, he seeing a broken sign and asking Akira what it said, he not knowing for certain for his Chinese not great, Christopher supplying the idea of it perhaps saying Yeh Chen, Akira allowing the possibility, but when Christopher begins to plan for the both of them to enter, Akira considers how many years have passed, and the fates of Christopher’s parents, the two not able to discuss anymore for a little girl emerging from the house and seeming to want them to come in, Christopher stepping forward since it seemed she was bleeding, after she goes back inside, Christopher urging Akira to come with him.

When they go through to where the girl leads them, they view many dead bodies, the little girl going to a dog, and speaking Chinese, Akira translating she wanted help for the dog, Christopher giving her encouraging words, but then going about in search of his parents until Akira warns him of soldiers nearby, Christopher losing his shit and not comprehending due to his desperate search. Akira hides in a half open spot, Christopher unable to let him know since the soldiers then entered, but he finding it hilarious, and once Akira realizing they were Japanese, makes his presence known, he not looking happy to see them or vice versa, he being led out with only a smile to Christopher as he left, he then explaining the reason he was there to the Captain, the latter commanding he leave immediately. The Japanese kept Christopher at their headquarters where he recovered from his injuries, which also gave him a fever for some weeks, but when he recovers, a Colonel speaks with him, and Christopher feels he has a clear concept of what he’d been through for his case. The Colonel was ready to lead him to the British Consulate, but Christopher had another idea involving his return to the gramophone shop, the Colonel denying this due to they being on a schedule and Christopher not able to explain why, the Colonel then passes the time by speaking of his admiration of Dickens and Thackeray, their country beautiful.

Christopher changes the subject to Akira and whether the Colonel knew his fate, he advising Christopher to let it go, but of course he not doing as requested, the Colonel sharing how Akira was quite likely in cahoots with the Chinese due to where he was found. The Colonel and he then discuss how soon the world would be battling a war. When Christopher speaks with the British consul-general, he gets to the point of needing to speak with MacDonald whilst he cleaned himself up. People came and left from the room they’d given him, a doctor most likely giving him medication to sleep, he being told of MacDonald not being found, yet. Upon waking, he goes off in search of MacDonald’s office and sees Sir Cecil, the two discussing the disappearance of Sarah and how he and others thought Christopher was connected, he there to apologize and sharing how he’d gotten word from her currently being in Macao, they being interrupted by Grayson, Christopher disheartened, but he there to show Christopher to MacDonald’s new working office. When they get to an empty office, Grayson nudges Christopher forward, closing the door behind them and making it clear Christopher wanted to speak with him (wink-wink), the interview with Yellow Snake more possible and Christopher feeling like he’s finally getting somewhere. He then relays his interview occurring the previous night, the Chinese secret police, his escort and they confronting more guards when getting to the large house, he waiting inside for a half hour, when finally being shown to a study where he is greeted by someone he knows.

Yellow Snake even shows how he’d been made to stay armed in case Christopher attempts to attack him, he knowing he owed Christopher some explanations. They start with Christopher’s father, after he gives his own opinion of what he thought happened, when asked, needing to play nice. His mother had planned to share the truth with him regarding his father when he was older, he learning where his father had gone, whom he’d been with, why he’d left, and how he’d lived his life. When Christopher asks about where his mother was, Yellow Snake again asks for what he knew, Christopher sharing how he’d thought the two were being held captive, Yellow Snake then backing up to explain a memory Christopher shares earlier, and explaining how his mother had been working to end the opium trade in China, how he didn’t have her exact location, but knew a good place to start, the man Christopher had been researching being involved. Christopher now realizes whom had his mother and the reason she had been taken, he then learning whom had been taking care of his financial needs, he about to tell what his mother endured whilst living with the drug kingpin, but Christopher having enough, Yellow Snake then confessing how he’s stayed alive so Christopher could kill him, but after refusing and having to pull away from him for his insistence, the man shares his deepest secret, he getting off in knowing his mother was essentially a sex slave since he knew he couldn’t have her and didn’t save her. Christopher ignores this and only focuses on making sure he knew everything about his mother, the man whom had her now being dead, so his search being difficult, but onward he would go, leaving Yellow Snake.

London 14/Nov./1958 – Christopher relates how a trip to Hong Kong marked his longest trip in a long time, he exhausted a couple days after arriving, the place not being as homey as Shanghai was, he dealing with joint pain and Jennifer accompanying him for needing the break. She offered having them visit Shanghai, as well, but Christopher knew the changes made to the city would be painful to him. By the third day, Christopher was off for a visit to a convent inside a manor without Jennifer joining him, as requested. When meeting a nun in an office regarding a woman called Diana, whom had been institutionalized and stranded in China for many years, and then brought to their convent, the woman leads him to where she was, so he could discover whether she was his mother. When he first sees her, the nun shares how she didn’t usually understand something unless continually repeated, she smiling at them a moment before going back to her card game. Christopher gets a moment alone with her, and when she smiles up at him again, Christopher senses a note of fear in her gaze, he telling her whom he was a few times and apologizing for locating her so late, he then trying his pet name, she recognizing it, but not him, only sharing how she’d heard he was fine, but one couldn’t know for sure with him and worrying her. Christopher then has this discussion with Jennifer regarding the rest of Diana’s life there, they currently in England and he not happy with her current living situation, she having had some type of break down at thirty-one and having had, but lost a family, she ready to take it easy and not be bothered with finding love again. Christopher being posed the same question and making him reminisce of his lost love, feeling guilty and apologizing to Jennifer for leaving her so long when she was young, but she making him realize how grateful she was for all he’d done for her. She then comes up with a compromise involving the plan of whether she were able to get another husband and have some kids, he would have to live with them in the country, he agreeing. At the same time, Christopher also thought how he’d miss London, he still being recognized, one time whilst out with the Osbournes and a lady approaching him for knowing Sarah quite well, and what had become of her and her new love. The last correspondence Christopher had of her by letter a couple of years after the war, he still second guessing whether her words of her own happiness were genuine, and after relating how regretful he’d feel if he left London, would give good thought to Jennifer’s offer.

After reading this book as sections of it had been broken from the spine (presumably done whilst it was stepped on by cretins), was oddly liberating, only since I hadn’t an attachment to it for not knowing whether I’d want it for keeps (fortunately I didn’t, Christopher not being a character I care to periodically re-encounter, I having given him the benefit of the doubt at first, but he being pompous, which makes him describing the powerful men of the International Settlement in similar terms, seeming like he truly doesn’t recognize the similarities in his own personality. Too much of an ego as well, which he would most likely state how wrong I am in describing it in such a way, blah; also, I don’t believe I’ve ever felt like seeing a main character die and not feeling let down). So, minus Christopher being a stuck-up, know-it-all, the story itself is what drove interest-level. The two main mysteries being his parents fates and his best buddy, Akira; one being more fully realized than the other. I also enjoyed the time period and locations which helped the value, but I do now see why so many people found this piece annoying, especially since Akira gets left behind, and if Christopher had found out whether or not he hadn’t made it, why he didn’t do as Akira had requested of him by going to see his family to give his last words? Oh well, I’ll give Ishiguro one more chance since it was well-written.

Buddha, Vol. 8: Jetavana (Buddha #8)

For the seventh volume in the series. We begin with discovering Prince Ajatasattu has been in the tower for four years and he’s turned seventeen, but looks much older due to the vengeance he’s harbored all those years. Devadatta still visited the Prince to keep him abreast of all the news of the city around him and of Buddha’s efforts. Devadatta then informs the Prince he could be let go sooner than his father’s sentence due to the King showing withdrawal symptoms and no one knowing anything, but he was poisoned, the kingdom would need someone of sound mind to rule the country giving the Prince the perfect opportunity to take over. The Prince knows Devadatta has done this for a reason and asks him what it was, it being for the Prince’s support to Devadatta to take over control in Venuvana. The Prince is so desperate to get out of the tower he’s willing to help Devadatta in his endeavor and so awaits the good news of his release to come. We next see the effect of Devadatta’s plan and he soon arrives in Venuvana after the disciples hear of the news about Prince Ajatasattu.

Devadatta brings the highest ranking monks together to blast them with the news of his take over of their group as well, showing the proclamation. Sariputta found a way around the proclamation due to how it was written and in the end let the monks decide whether they’d like to follow Devadatta or not; only a few, including Tatta decide to go with him. Tatta’s reason being Devadatta promised him his revenge. Meanwhile Ajatasattu has locked his father up in the tower and his mother pleads with him to be reasonable, confiding in him of Devadatta’s part in his father’s poisoning, but the Prince strips her of her title and has her removed. Devadatta arrives to inform the Prince of his success, but the Prince isn’t impressed with the number of Samanna he’s convinced to follow him. Devadatta requests needing a little more time and the Prince gives him some gold to fund his ability to show he has the biggest sect in India, but Devadatta declines being able to use the money in such a way, opting to give it to charity in the King’s name, Ajatasattu acquiescing.

Then we see Migaila is still trying to figure out why Tatta has decided to betray Buddha like he has. Tatta plans on going to Kapilavastu for Buddha’s permission and Migaila has misgivings, confessing to him she feels like she won’t ever see him again, but he’s set on going and thinks she’s got nothing to fear, believing he won’t be gone long at all, but we’re to learn Migaila’s feeling had merit. Then Sariputta and Moggallana are seen heading to the mountains where Devadatta’s monks are to bring them back in a not so honest way, as Sariputta puts it. When they arrive Sariputta share with the monks how a divine being has told him they need to reunite and come back, even showing it’s form with the fog has developed over the night, which does its job in convincing them to return. When Devadatta returns to the mountain to discover everyone gone, he’s vowed to do anything in his power to win what they’ve “stolen” from him, even if he has to kill Buddha to do it.

Meanwhile Buddha, Ananda and Visakha were heading back to Kosala with Rahula, Bhaddiya, Aurudha and Kimbila when Bhaddiya mentions to Buddha of Naradatta who was not quite on the way, but well-known for being an ascetic since Siddhartha was a baby. Buddha decides to make the side-trip, soon they see prints only one who was walking on all fours could make. They locate a cave, which Ananda offers to enter first to make sure there weren’t any dangerous animals inside, but Buddha senses there wasn’t and decides to go in first, noticing Naradatta lying on a palette, hot with fever. Upon trying to give him medicine to help, Naradatta shows his refusal and Buddha accepts this, instead staying and watching over him, until late speaking with Naradatta. He learns something of Buddha before dying and Buddha goes back out to his group informing them of how moved he was by spending Naradatta’s last moments with him. He realized then how he wanted to die when the time came and we are told Buddha, from then on thought often of the way he would go.

We then see a merchant trying to get Prince Jeta to sell his park to him for monks to reside in, but the Prince refuses. As he’s returning to the castle, he discovers his father has returned from Kapilavastu, believing once Buddha comes to visit and speaks with the King his mind will change as well, the young Prince laughs at the thought and wonders how his father’s mind would ever be changed. The King, meanwhile doesn’t take the news of Prince Crystal’s withdrawal of their troops very well at all. The King threatens Prince Crystal by taking his successorship if he doesn’t go back and kill the Shakya, so he obeys begrudgingly. Meanwhile the merchant, Sudatta is trying to fulfill the young Prince’s requirements in order to buy the park, stemming from his time when he’d met Buddha and wanting to fulfill this dream of his, then we get a flashback of his meeting with Buddha. Buddha explains to Sudatta what he needs to know to lose his fear of death and continues they will meet again, since Sudatta wanted him to share more.

After their meeting Sudatta had figured out his life’s work will be to make a temple for Buddha and so puts all of his finances into it, but upon seeing how much of the park was covered by all of his money and still needing more, he begins losing heart when the young Prince comes to see how well he’s held up his end of the bargain. Soon Sudatta’s staff is beginning to believe he’s truly lost his mind and try to call a doctor, but in their haste almost cut off his breathing themselves, then Prince Jeta is informed and told by his mother he should leave the man alone, but the Prince believes it shouldn’t matter since they are royalty and bullying the lower castes should be acceptable. The Prince believes Sudatta will come begging for his forgiveness soon enough, then we see Sudatta has sold his house and hasn’t made much larger of a dent on covering the land, soon being flitted upon by birds and getting an idea after, wondering why they’d be so happy. Then Prince Jeta ascertains where Sudatta has started living and senses he’s quite happy and content, but not believing the truth in his words, he tests him by flipping a gold coin to him and follows him to see what he’ll do with it, which was to set it in the park with the others, so the Prince gives in and donates the park to him instead.

Next we catch Prince Crystal making his way back with troops to Kapilavastu and when his soldiers detect some Shakya, the Prince maintains they must kill them, but they resist once they realize Buddha’s among them. When the Prince perceives this out he goes to Buddha and gets more advice on how one should respect their parents, if it feels right to do so. We then see the Prince confronting his father once he’s returned, expressing to him he’s decided against obeying his orders. His father, in return calls his favorite wrestler in as a threat, revealing to his son he’ll give him succession. Prince Crystal in return, gets his soldiers to come in and physically extricate him off the throne to get him to a doctor for fear of being mad. The doctor, after seeing the King, gives his diagnosis and the Prince gets it in writing so as to have a reason to take over the throne.

Then we get the viewpoint of a local ascetic who also fears having Buddha dismantle his group, so one of his disciples makes known he can stop Buddha with powder to stop him from using “black magic”, but Pokkarasati has his own plan, bringing in a woman named Sundari, one of his other disciples to use as bait for Buddha. Then we see Prince Crystal greeting Buddha to his kingdom and Buddha has doubts to his reception being taken well by the people due to his background. Then Prince Jeta brings Sudatta forward and describes what had gone on and what he plans on doing with the park. The monastery was built and Buddha stays there to preach to the people of Kosala. This is when Pokkarasati and Sundari come in and try to lure Buddha with her wiles. After Buddha finishes a sermon he decides to rest for awhile, wondering if he’s truly giving the Kosalan people enlightenment. Then he hears a lady’s voice calling his name and upon investigating who and where it’s coming from, we recognize it’s the “harlot” trying to woo him with wine, which he declines. She gives away her bit of the plan, which doesn’t resonate with Buddha, but she’s killed and the murderer runs off spreading the rumor Buddha has killed a woman. Buddha takes the turning of people’s loyalty in stride and waits it out. Upon the fifth day of harrassment, King Crystal steps in and informs Buddha he has the police looking into the matter, since he doesn’t believe the rumors and suspects local Brahmin as the source.

When Buddha asks after the King’s father, he’s reticent with his answers and his father’s death, requesting Buddha to take care of himself. Buddha is then led to where the former King is supposedly being held. When he approaches and introduces himself to the man inside, he begins to remember who Siddhartha is and isn’t happy about his presence. Buddha confides what his son had said about him and the former King gets agitated to being helped to escape his prison, instead Buddha inquires to how he was put there in the first place. He’s adamant in declining and tries to bribe Buddha, which is when King Crystal shows up. When Buddha tries to get him to release his father, he reminds him of why he’d taken it into his own hands to stop his father’s charade of a threat to making his favorite wrestler his successor. He then escorts Buddha back to Jetavana, commanding him not to return there and warning his father if he tried to escape he’d stick him in the dungeon. The King’s father then notices a message written in the dirt for him, leading him to a plant, which now he tries to figure how it will be useful in his escape. Then we see what Tatta is up to, which consists of him trying to figure out where Buddha’s gone to. After getting steamed up about how much he hates the Kosalans, a man approaches him to let him know he isn’t the only one and introduces him to others like himself. After accepting their invitation to go to war with them, Yashodara shows up, asking if Tatta is serious about making war. Then she tries to show Tatta must be reasonable and think of the consequences which involves all the Shakya people, but Tatta is set on his resolve to join his compatriots and points Yashodara to speak with their General, Bharanda.

King Crystal comes to Buddha with the culprits of the young woman’s murder, which shocks Buddha. The King then confesses he won’t have long to wait before they capture the guilty party, then we see the soldiers who think they’ve found the murderer, which is Tatta who’s not taking kindly to anyone who’s Kosalan. He has a waking dream, which involves his horse becoming Buddha, trying to make him see what he’s doing is wrong, amusingly, but not in time before more Kosalan troops come to stop him. When a soldier comes back to King Crystal to share what had happened to their band, he is enraged to learn a Shakya, not relating to whom they were searching for, has gone and killed those he’d sent out for the killer, instead he sends out a battalion to stop Tatta, who seems ready for them. Bharanda then sends out his men to help Tatta. Meanwhile, those who didn’t want to be part of the war, left Kapilavastu for Kosala including Siddhartha’s mother and father, whom he meets at the entrance, trying to turn them away, but Yashodara explains why they left. Buddha holds firm to his belief they should have confronted the uprising head on, trying to get them to return and deal with the problem. Then Buddha senses Tatta is involved, not believing what he heard, then King Crystal makes sure Buddha isn’t going to try to stop him from taking out the Shakyan people which he doesn’t, resigning to their fate. King Crystal leaves to wage war and Tatta still faces it head on, soon facing King Crystal who recognizes him as a disciple and gives him the chance to retreat. Tatta refuses, making King Crystal kill him and then he orders everyone’s death. When King Crystal gets back Buddha is under the tree he’d left him and explains what happened, upon questioning. Once the King had gone back to his castle, Buddha walks to the war-zone, noticing Tatta among the dead, now making him think his teachings were pointless.

Buddha’s family is saddened by the terrible news of their country and people as well, but Buddha seemed to feel the worst about it to the point of calling out to Brahmin for guidance for what he should do next for not getting anyone to truly understand his teachings. Then Ananda sees Buddha at his worst moment and is plagued by the evil presence he’s been fighting against, speaking in his ear about Buddha’s failure and weakness, but Ananda goes to Buddha’s aid and reminds him of all the people he has helped. Ananda then begins wondering why Tatta was searching for Buddha, thinking something may be starting in Venuvana. We see Prince Crystal going back to the cage he’s left his father in, being told it’s been a year since he’s been there last. He confesses to his father of what he’d done and agrees to let him out if he agrees to retirement and not to exert any authority over King Crystal, which surprises his father for some reason. Then King Crystal believes his father is too mentally ill to be released and leaves him there since he seems too obsessed with giving up the throne, curses trailing after him. The former King comes up with a revenge-based plan to get him back on the throne, then hearkens back to the note Buddha had left him. We then skip forward a year and see Dhepa has come to deliver a message to Buddha. He then is heard by Buddha himself about the fates of Ajatasattu and his father. He goes on to describe of the fall of Devadatta’s claim to leadership and then the rise again, more monks deciding to join him after Sariputta had convinced them to leave. When Dhepa asks for Buddha to help them by returning, he agrees and requests Dhepa to go ahead, giving a speech to the people before he departs. King Crystal offers his assistance in any way to Buddha’s journey and he asks him only to release his father, which he delivers the orders for to one of his guards. We then see the former King speaking to a hallucination which stemmed from the weed he’d been fostering to survive. Then he realizes the door had been opened and he leaves the place at once, heading for Magadha. When he gets there he asks for King Bimbisara and is told there’s a new king. He waits there, lying in the mud overnight and dies at the door, not seeing Buddha again.

Buddha arrives to visit King Ajatasattu to ascertain what happened and Ajatasattu begins laying down the law, forbidding him to go to Rajgriha indefinitely. Then Devadatta appears to show off how he’s become leader of Buddha’s sect, angering Ananda, but when Buddha replies for him to stay calm, he confesses to Devadatta what he thinks of his abilities, making him feel inadequate, so then he puts Buddha to the test to prove he’s actually chosen. After Buddha chooses and his plan goes awry, he determines his accomplices had chickened out, due to to the possibility of poisoning a great man like Buddha. Then Devadatta decides they should let the disciples decide and lead the way to Venuvana. On the way there it seems Devadatta had a back up plan involving a boulder, which failed again. Ananda figures out Devadatta’s plan and warns Buddha to watch out for anything suspicious, they then run into another trap, but Buddha helps the creature involved before it endangers itself or him. They then finally reach Venuvana where the disciples are pleased to see him, hoping life will go back to peacefulness. Buddha then sees the conditions of Sariputta and Moggallana brought on by the King, Migaila enquiring after about how Tatta had died and Buddha expressing of his single-mindedness to do what he thought was right. Devadatta then comes up with his new plan on killing Buddha, set to go down in the evening as Buddha slept, but his plan turns on him when he falls like a klutz, he still set on taking Buddha down with him. Buddha perceives Devadatta as he’s about to be taken out and shares how he was his own worst enemy, even though he hated Buddha for not being able to emulate him.

We start the next chapter with the Duchess requesting to see her husband, who is up in the tower. She eventually gets what she wants and we hear through the guards how it seems Ajatasattu is trying to starve his father to death. King Ajatasattu then learns about Devadatta’s death and grieves privately for the man was like a brother to him. After two weeks of solitude, the staff becomes worried and breaks in to see what’s going on with the King and they view him in an interesting condition: his forehead developing a lump. The King believes it’s Devadatta’s doing somehow, but the doctor believes it to be a tumor and knows how to cure him, but Ajatasattu doesn’t believe him, he soon falls into a state of pain though and pleads for help. The King still threatens the doctor, even though he’s certain he knows how to cure him. Then we see Buddha arrive and requesting to visit Bimbisara, but the guards let him know they can’t give him access, which is when the Duchess steps in, letting him accompany her on her visit.

We soon realize this day is when Bimbisara is supposed to die, when a guard rushes out saying Bimbisara isn’t breathing, they all run to his cell and observe him to be conscious and speaking to his wife of how he doesn’t blame Ajatasattu for doing what he did, then sees Buddha and is glad to have him there, asking him to take Ajatasattu as his disciple and mentioning his regret of how he treated his son, hoping Buddha would be able to save him as his final request. Buddha then goes to see Ajatasattu and sees how far the tumor has grown, which the doctor explains was done by Devadatta who prepared the drink for the King, so once Devadatta had died, the King started experiencing withdrawal and now they contemplated how they could possibly concoct the same potion for the King, but since they don’t know the ingredients necessary, Buddha figures out a more simple method to trying to heal Ajatasattu. The doctor is skeptical, but sees the effects as soon as he touches Ajatasattu and continues this method for three years. Then after reducing the King’s swelling a bit, he comes to another realization about man and God, deciding he will tell every Human of his discovery. We see Buddha stay on Eagle Peak to preach and meditate, then seeing him sharing a story about a man who was too weak to go on, the animals in the area helping him to survive. The rabbit in particular sacrifices himself so the man could go on, Buddha then describing the person who sacrificed himself to some wolves in the same manner. After this sermon, which Ajatasattu hears, he honors his father and requests to become Buddha’s disciple.

We then see Buddha receiving terrible news about Moggallana and Sariputta, who didn’t survive their travels. Buddha is so shocked he believes it to be a lie, but then he is shown a letter written to Buddha by Moggallana. Buddha is stricken by his heirs deaths and develops physical stomach pain during the night, then thinks he’s hearing Mara asking him to accept death. Buddha then confides in Dhepa, once daylight comes, he’s planning on making one last trip, due to Moggallana’s prophecy. Buddha then mentions to Dhepa he wants him to give sermons in his absence. Buddha begins his journey with Ananda by his side, Migaila also bids farewell before they depart. We are then given the route Buddha and 500 of his disciples took so he could teach the people of all castes.

Three months before Buddha’s fated death, he gives Ananda some wisdom on the subject of death. Buddha stops at a poor man’s house and they serve him mushrooms, due to having nothing else, but of course Buddha is grateful and is even given directions before moving on. After walking for some time, Buddha began feeling ill, and soon showed signs of sickness, his disciples cared for him and upon sunset, he felt good enough to rest. At night, Buddha is again visited by Brahman and told when they will be making their journey together, which is also around the same time a monk appears to visit Buddha, but gets turned away by his followers due to his feeling ill, Buddha though decides to let him come and ask him what he would, giving him advice on the three facts he needs to follow in order to awaken his soul. After giving Suhbadda his answer, he falls back, seeing it’s time for his end. When Brahman arrives to accompany him on his journey, Buddha asks what will become of his teachings, being led by Brahman to show him the answer. We are then given the closing as to where Buddhism had spread to throughout the years. This was one epic comic and I’m glad I read it, eye-opening and enlightening indeed.

Buddha, Vol. 7: Prince Ajatasattu (Buddha #7) Part 5 cont. and Part 6

For the 6th volume in the series. We begin with a horse and rider coming to inform King Bimbisara of Buddha coming with a thousand monks. Yatala, Bimbisara, and Tatta are all excited to hear from Buddha again. Tatta shows off his triplets and Yatala boasts of his new career as part of King Bimbisara’s soldiers, then Bimbisara has his mind eased by Buddha which upsets Prince Ajatasattu who doesn’t understand Buddha’s reverence and feeling hurt his father could believe he would kill him because of what Buddha told him. Devadatta starts sharing his plan to the monks of starting an organization for Buddha’s disciples, which is agreed upon, but not so much as to who will lead it. Ananda runs into Ahimsa who informs of how Buddha could be disrupted by an assassination during his sermon the next day, which the Prince is confronted by his mother since she’d heard from a maid, the Prince does not deny it and supplies it’s for his father who is so much worse for Buddha’s “lies”, he sets up his plan and hatches a diversion for the guards who follow him, waiting for Buddha to appear at the appointed place.

Even though Buddha is warned of the assassin before starting his sermon, he still goes through with it and it does happen as the Prince planned, but he doesn’t expect Buddha to survive, which he doesn’t know for 3 months due to being locked up in a tower by his father once he’d heard of what he’d done. Devadatta comes up with a plan for Ajatasattu to try and get his father to abdicate the throne and leave, making it possible for the prophecy to not be filled, whether the King wanted to or not. Then we see what’s become of Ahimsa, who’s waiting to hear of Buddha’s death and being interrupted by Yatala grabbing him and bringing him to Buddha. At the end of the meeting Buddha unveils wisdom in Ahimsa’s words and makes another rule for his disciples to follow, naming it after Ahimsa and only making him angrier and discovering why Ananda is following him at all. The chapter ends with Ahimsa still trying to enlist Ananda to become what he was once again and join him, but Ananda is adamant in his new role and trying to stay vigilant, leaving Ahimsa once again with the fact he didn’t want anything to do with him ever again.

Ajatasattu is shown still in the tower, but at least missing the cholera taking over the city after a drought. A guard captain eventually takes pity on him and leads him to a part of the tower where he can rest for a little while, soon seeing a woman whom he becomes infatuated with. He learns of the place the woman he’s found interest in, had emerged from were the kitchens and slaves worked there to prepare food for the prisoners and serve them, but not for he, since the honor is reserved for the guards. He makes a deal with the guard and gets him to let the girl he saw serve his next meal. She’s too intimidated by his royalty to talk to him more than giving her name, it being Yudelka. Meanwhile Ajatasattu’s mother is given a potion by Devadatta to help calm the King by ingestion through his meals, without his knowledge, of course. The Queen soon takes offence to Devadatta’s plan in the slow mind changing drug to get him to agree to step down from his throne to let Ajatasattu take over. Then we see what Ajatasattu is up to with Yudelka, who is making a bit more conversation about where her family is, which makes Ajatasattu hope to make amends with her terrible story by eventually getting her out of slavery.

After almost a week going by and Yudelka’s visits stopping, he enquires a guard about where she’s gone, percieving she’d gotten ill from the plague going around, making him break out of his tower and rescue her from the boarded up Shudra house of plagued slaves. When the King is told of what Ajatasattu had done, he at first wants to take a drastic measure and instead decides to give the Prince a doctor as he wished, but only if they got the girl back into the Shudra house for treatment. The doctor does end up helping the girl get better and gets a mind-opening conversation from the Prince. After talking with Yudelka about her country the Prince, aching to get away from their torment thinks of a plan to get them both away in an impromptu escape plan. He asks her to think it over and by the next morning she’s been given a death sentence, surprising the Prince. Devadatta shows up after the Prince is convinced Yudelka has been killed, accusing him of treachery, not believing his father could go through with such a heartless sentence. Ajatasattu vows not to forget what his father has done, waiting out his own sentence in the tower, ending the chapter.

The next chapter begins with Buddha still recovering and how the illness in Maghada did impact his life in some way during his convalescence, also making him age rapidly with the effort healing is taking. Buddha asks Ananda to go search for a man like Assaji after some of the disciples worry over his ability to get better, confiding in him he’s the only one who can do this task and he’ll become a Sotapanna when he succeeds. We then see later Buddha has given him a robe, his own robe from years before and he goes to locate the man Buddha wished him to seek, running into people in a village who recognized him and accosted him, but he passes through without fighting back. After making it back to a river, he sees Assaji in the water, who apparently shows up at certain times to Ananda, he stating he won’t give up his search for the man, despite all the trouble he’s confronted thus far. On the almost deserted path, Ananda meets a man whom could be the one he’s been searching for, he introduces himself as Sariputta, but then we are introduced to Moggallana who seems to have more powerful seeing powers when he observes Sariputta on the road with Ananda. They go back to their master to update him about what Ananda told them of Buddha, to which he doesn’t believe anything of and eventually all of his disciples leave him to go follow Buddha, which makes him angry, understandably. When they’re on their way, Ananda learns his future which surprises him. Buddha sees of Ananda and the group returning from whispers from Assaji and requests Dhepa to prepare to greet them; when they do arrive Buddha introduces Sariputta and Moggallana as his successors, ending the chapter.

The beginning of the next chapter shows nobody is happy about Buddha’s unexplained decision to have Sariputta and Moggallana take over his cause. Especially Tatta, another monk whom dissolved his sect and Devadatta who immediately decides he must go to Buddha to share what needs to be done. Buddha listens and Devadatta is firm about how Buddha’s sect, which could be a lucrative business, must be run by someone who can manage everything, believing it should be Buddha’s main priority, rather than it being about helping people realize peace and happiness. Devadatta goes overboard with his rambling and flirtatious case though and Buddha puts a stop to it, giving the desired affect of scandalous comedy. Sariputta and Moggallana then deduce how dangerous of an enemy Devadatta will become, which won’t be far away. After which we see a woman barge in, fat with child claiming Siddhartha knocked her up and to beware of his true nature, soon confronting Buddha himself. He’s taken aback by her forward accusations, but soon Moggallana uncovers her ruse and who was behind it. Moggallana predicts accurately this was only the beginning and rumors begin to spread of Buddha which were in bad taste. Ananda then shares with Lata of what Moggallana had predicted about him, after Tatta had commanded he stand sentinel to make sure no one attacked Buddha, what with all the protesters about.

They soon both fall asleep and Ananda is woken by his old demon who offers him the fantasy of being able to marry Lata if he leaves Buddha, which he refuses and so she sends a snake to attack Buddha, but Lata tries to save him and gets bitten. She doesn’t survive her courageous act and they lay her body to rest in the tradition of the times. Buddha then informs Ananda they must continue to do more for the cause in honor of Lata’s sacrifice and then, Buddha gets a visit from Brahman to remind him he hasn’t been as vigilant to his vow he’d made 10 years before as he claimed and when awoken by Ananda and he confides his plan to go to Kosala which he asks whether he would join him, he of course accepts. The other monks soon hear of the rumor and ask Buddha if he does plan on leaving them, which he confirms. Ananda and Buddha have begun their journey and it starts to look hard-going on Buddha once they get to the swamp Buddha is now revisiting since his first trek across it with Dhepa, which took five days. Ananda thought they would be able to rest, but Buddha told him how Dhepa, Assaji and he had to rest the last time around, which didn’t seem possible this time with Buddha’s condition, so Ananda was about to be relieved by spotting a log, but it was already being used by some spiders, which he would’ve disposed of, but Buddha refused letting him, for all living things being connected and the possibility of one of them being Lata reborn, so they keep moving and it begins to rain, like the first time Buddha had made the journey. It doesn’t seem Buddha will have the strength to make it, but they soon see the wall to the town he’d stayed in before. Buddha leads Ananda to the same spot he’d stayed in before and began speaking of his memories of the first time he’d been there until Ananda had prepared their supper, but Buddha soon notices himself alone whilst Ananda had gone off exploring and detecting fresh footprints in the dust, which he follows. Soon he discovers a woman in a hidden wine cellar who seems to have gone mad, Ananda wondering out loud if she is Visakha.

We next see it’s morning and Ananda is anxious to leave, relating to Buddha he’d constructed a raft for them. He gets Buddha to follow, until Visakha appears and Buddha starts wondering whether the town is still inhabited after all, whilst Ananda tries to get him to ignore her and leave, but once Buddha recognizes her, even after being told she’s gone crazy, he tries to make sure it isn’t her by going to Visakha’s home after the woman had run off. Buddha, even though they don’t know whether it is Visakha yet, decides he must help her, first disposing of all her dream potions. Ananda meets her outside and she soon realizes what he’s up to and runs back to the stash, Ananda trying to warn Buddha she’s caught wise. Buddha soon is met by her and senses she must be holding on to a small bit of sanity, since she hadn’t tried to kill him with the knife she was wielding, which he relays to Ananda. Visakha, after being quite upset with the knowledge she had no more drugs, comes down and is able to communicate for only a short time and after they must leave without her, but Buddha refuses to let her stay there alone since it would be the death of her. She doesn’t want to leave though, and fights until getting her on the raft, where she slowly descends back into her fogged mind, which includes getting fresh with Buddha, Ananda percieving it hard to watch and is told he can look elsewhere, Buddha believing she couldn’t do anything much about it anyways. He turns out to be right, since she descends further into her madness and withdrawal of the drugs, tipping the raft over instead and everyone going to the shore to spend the night. They move on to another town, Buddha delivering a sermon since requested to do so, but is soon cut short by Visakha’s madness interrupting with her “kissy kissy” talk. They then travel farther and Ananda is having trouble gathering enough food for all three of them, gathering only enough for one, which Buddha offers to Visakha, but she’s getting weaker and can’t drink the water Ananda tries to give her. Soon he believes she’s died and convinces Buddha to leave her body to the vultures, but after a few miles he’s overcome with the idea she hadn’t died yet, he decides to go back for her, which he realizes he had been right, being met by her on his way back, her now knowing who she is and they continue their journey to Kosala.

As they get closer to Buddha’s country, Kapilavastu, he has been targeted by an arrow, shot by Ahimsa. He still believes if he takes Buddha out, Ananda will want to rejoin him in his criminal activities, Ananda threatening to end him if he tries to harm Buddha any further. Buddha tries to end their fight to the death before it begins, but Ananda is adamant in defending him. Ahimsa is bested, but not for a good run, soon being trapped in a hole, Ananda wanting to leave him for dead, but hearing his cries. Visakha offers to try and see if she can help him since she is able to fit in the hole, realizing Ahimsa had been trapped by rocks falling after him. Ananda offers to go for help whilst Buddha and Visakha await his return. They don’t make conversation with Ahimsa until he begins wondering why it’s so quiet above him, so Buddha begins asking about his reasons for wanting to kill the world’s greatest monk, in Ahimsa’s words. We then see Ananda arrive at the soldiers base and they instead take him for questioning once they discover why he’s there. Soon Prince Crystal discern Buddha is near and so gets his soldiers to go and bring him back. We skip back to see Ahimsa accepting Buddha’s help to change his outlook, due to being so near death and he accepts him as his disciple before Ahimsa stops speaking altogether. Prince Crystal’s soldiers soon arrive after, Buddha and Visakha being greeted by Prince Crystal himself, the Prince arrogant and reminding Buddha where they’d met before. He then shows Buddha all the people he’d given hard labor to and how terribly they were being treated. The Prince then showing him a man in a jail, quite old and unrecognizable to Buddha until the Prince reveals the man being the King of Kapilavastu.

The Prince is quite eager to anger or upset Buddha into goading him to fight, but Buddha reveals to him he only pities the Prince, soon explaining the reason he pities him, which makes the Prince lash out for Buddha deducing correctly. Then he decides to detain him with Ananda since he saw the usefulness of keeping him alive because of the King of Magadha having his back, hoping to teach Buddha a lesson or two. When Buddha is brought to the cell of Ananda he gives him the 411 on his brief encounter with the Prince. Ananda offers to break out his family but Buddha is against this, for it isn’t the reason he brought him, then “The King of the slaves” shows up, being a citizen of Kapilavastu and having the permission of the Prince to visit Buddha. Bhaddiya, the King of slaves, requests Buddha to speak at their assembly and states if he agrees, he will take care of getting Prince Crystal to agree to their gathering, which the Prince readily does, expecting a riot and planning to be ready for one to condemn all to death. Then we see Yashodara expressing to Siddhartha’s mother he’s returned and how they’ll enjoy seeing him at the assembly. We then see Buddha being led to the assembly area for his sermon and wonders if he’ll see his mother, wife and son; they of course, watch him as he goes to his place to begin, everyone falling silent, Prince Crystal keeping his soldiers at the ready for any sign of disorder.

Buddha wonders how he will keep their spirits up, upon seeing their worn and defeated countenances and physical appearance. His long pause is starting to confuse the people, but then Buddha begins, apprehending inspiration in the clouds. When Buddha mentions his son’s name, the boy is so excited he runs up to Buddha on the platform. Parts of Buddha’s speech  stirs up first Prince Crystal’s guard and then himself, because Buddha begins speaking of Prince Crystal’s terrible acts which hit close to his heart. The guard wishes to put Buddha to death immediately, but the Prince holds him off and retreats for a nap, soon wondering if he regrets any of the deaths he’d caused through the years, denying he does, upon listing them. Then we see Buddha’s son asking to join him to be taught by him, but Buddha informs him he must undergo the trials given him where he was and learn from them, then he is called upon by the Prince and a guard shares how much he’d gotten from his sermon, he and a few other guards wanting to become his disciples and he accepting them. After, the Prince states to Buddha how the “lies” he’d said of him had kept him from his nap and he would kill him also for the fact there wasn’t anything to stop him now, he would be able to go through with it, but is overcome with such pain he asks Buddha how he can be rid of it, letting him stay for over five hours. The Prince doesn’t get anything useful from his preaching and adds he expects him to be gone by noon, Buddha confessing to him he hadn’t told him everything required to rid him of the pain and to meet him at a certain spot.

The Prince goes to the designated area and asks Buddha why he’s stayed, in return being asked why he showed up, which the Prince told him he had to come see him because it bothered him he was sitting there. He then sees Rahula, Siddhartha’s son and commands him to get back to work, despite being a new disciple of Buddha’s. Buddha then lists what is required to end the Prince’s pain, but the he is affronted by Buddha’s answer confirming his first statement stands, if they stay there, he will send his troops to kill them. Meanwhile, a rebellion is still being planned to go down in 12 nights when there isn’t a moon, then the King of the slaves walks in and threatens of they being caught if they don’t disperse, then realizing Anurudha planned on an attack again, continually suggesting for him to give it up, but he believing it too late to stop what he’d started. Then the lookout advises of the night-watch coming and Bhaddiya makes up a reason for why they were all out.

We then go back to Buddha who is still sitting where the Prince left him and some of his guards come to inform him of his banishment being revoked and to go back to the castle, which Buddha agrees to, but in the morning. The Prince sees them coming and when Buddha arrives, the Prince explains why he’d requested his return. The Prince agrees to have a service for his mother and Buddha will lead it, but he mustn’t mention his mother’s slavery. Buddha shares with the Prince what he planned won’t help him, because he’d still be ashamed of her caste. We then see Rahula getting a beating to make sure he realizes, whether he’s royalty or the great monk’s son, at this moment it doesn’t matter, because he’s a slave. His mother sees the condition he’s in and hopes Buddha is praying for his son, knowing how bravely he’s facing his fate. Meanwhile, Buddha and the Prince argue constantly for 12 days until making a decision his adviser was surprised and hesitatant to carry out, but the Prince commands it and notifies Buddha of when he’d gone through with his command. Then we see the rebellion is about to begin, when one of them spreads the news: of their freedom. The Prince, upon hearing the cheers, asks Buddha if he will come to Kosala to preach more to him and his father as well, Buddha accepting the offer. The fact the Kosalan army was withdrawing would bring a tragedy, but no one could know of this, ending the volume. This leaves me in the dark wanting to uncover the final bit, so now, on to the concluding installment!

Buddha, Vol. 6: Ananda (Buddha #6)


For the fifth volume in the series. This volume begins ten years before when Kosalan soldiers were killing the people of Kapilavastu. We see Ananda’s parents trying to escape the soldiers by fleeing to a little island which is inhabited by some kind of spirit who saves the family only for Ananda, which the father had pleaded any force to have if he were saved. After denying his words, he’s attacked by a plague of leaches and the mother and child escape the island. After his mother discovers a place to stay for some years, the soldiers catch up to them and try to finish the job they’d started, leaving Ananda and his mother stabbed, but Ananda hadn’t been killed and so avenged his mother’s death appropriately, but from then on hated humanity and became a renowned bandit by the age of seventeen. He began to target schools for tuition money with his crew to fund his plan to steal the tax money which was recently collected, coming up with an ingenious plan to get them into the office overnight. They are caught red-handed and whilst Ananda escapes, he doesn’t unscathed. Then the officials that gave chase try to come up with a plan that will rid them of Ananda once and for all, due to his ability to cheat death repeatedly. One of them has a plan that he believes will work and the chapter ends.

We next see the man with the plan training a dog and the chief making it known he doesn’t believe it will be enough to take down Ananda, but as the detective shows him, these dogs will shred a body to bits and so Ananda’s regenerative ability may not work. Meanwhile, Ananda was setting a trap for a rich boy on a horse and planning to use him as a hostage. Ananda then dresses like him and steals the boy’s identity, making the townspeople believe his guards had been overtaken by a rock-slide and needed to be left alone to rest. After they leave, he’s left to discover the jewels underneath the jeweler’s son’s room and is soon attacked by the son’s bird and not long after is discovered as a thief, trying to make a hasty retreat and having dogs sicced on him, getting thrown from his horse and the detective catching up to confront him, but when he tries to have the dogs he trained to attack Ananda, they are afraid to for some reason and he tries to attack him himself and is struck in some way I will not disclose, retreating. Ananda then questions the ether as to why it keeps protecting him from his enemies. The deity appears not long after explaining why he’s in “her” debt. She reports of Buddha being his ultimate enemy and how he must remember the name. We then see what’s become of the detective, who is still determined in killing Ananda in three days, ending the chapter.

Ananda is still up to no good and after killing a merchant for money and leaving his daughter to live, he is then followed by her until he threatens to kill her. The detective tracks Ananda’s crime and continues to try and catch him. Then we skip back to see Ananda relaxing in a pond and the girl watching him again and he goes and chases her down, catching her this time, realizing she was a slave rather than the murdered man’s relative, still not knowing how to get her to move along. She collapses and when he has every intention of leaving her, turns back and carries her along instead, the detective soon identifying him, but deciding to wait and see where he’ll go. Ananda notices an inn and pays for the girl to stay until rested, but soon returns to defend her honor. He kills the innkeeper and commands the other bandits to watch her or they’ll be in trouble.

When Ananda leaves, the detective tries to snipe him out and fails repeatedly, whilst Ananda is deep in thought over the girl he’s left behind, soon heading back toward the detective and the inn. The detective still tries to shoot Ananda, failing and he makes it back to the inn where the slave-girl is bathing. Once he brings himself to her attention, he figures out her name is Lata and likes she can’t speak so she couldn’t repeat all his bad deeds. After she saves his life from the detective still trying to kill him, he relents in taking her along until he gets tired of her. She steals a chicken and when Ananda learns of her crime and how she hadn’t done it properly, they go to a stream and are met by another thief seeking Ananda out to help him lift 30 sacks of gold. They go off to see where it’s kept, Ananda not trusting the bandit, leaving Lata to await his return and soon being surrounded by wild dogs. When Ananda goes back to where he left Lata and sees she’s missing we see Pampas the detective has to do with it and his trick to make Ananda disappear for good is shown. Ananda happens upon Lata and the trick does its duty, leaving Ananda stuck and asking for help from the deity, who agrees if he ditches Lata. He is saved, Pampas flees from the impossible sight and the chapter ends with Ananda revealing to Lata of the money he’s soon to have and his plans to get a house and marry her.

The next chapter begins with Ananda meeting up with the bandit to put his plan to action. Ananda’s part in it becomes much more difficult when he doesn’t seem to have the power used to make animals cower before him. They retreat and the bandit starts to insult Ananda’s pride, goading him to fight. Ananda comes to the realization this “drifter” bandit, is not ordinary and asks to hear where he comes from. What Ahimsa discloses to him sets his resolve in hating Brahmin ever since. After sharing, he asks Ananda where he’d gotten his power from and Ananda finally explains, after which Ahimsa deduces the reason his power seemed to have left him. Ananda comes down with an infection from the wound the tiger left him and Ahimsa convinces Lata to go away in order to save him. When she leaves, his infection leaves him and even though he tries to go after her, nature seems to get in his way and so they continue with the trail of the men who have the gold sacks and Ahimsa realizes they’re heading to the Kassapa brothers, who have the power of controlling fire, ending the chapter

We begin with the gold-sacked men begging Kassapa to help him keep Ananda away, offering seven sacks of gold if he’s able to help and after showing him his plan in killing Ananda, someone sees Ananda’s approach and he starts a fire which could have killed them, but the deity protects him. After the fire is out, Ananda and Ahimsa go to expose the tigers, succeeding and about to kill them when Uruvela Kassapa comes in requesting Ananda to fight him instead, he accepting the challenge. The monk’s psychic power is overcome and he leads them to the fire chamber, trapping them inside with the idea all the gold sacks are there. Ananda and Ahimsa are suffocating when the deity returns at Ananda’s call. Meanwhile the monk is teaching his students about fire and how it suffocates when a sentry comes to inform him of a man with a halo coming in their direction. We learn Buddha has been led by Lata to help Ananda. When he approaches the shrine of Kassapa, he’s scoffed at yet again when providing his name, but is still let in. Buddha explains why he is there and he’d like to spend the night in the dome with Ananda, knowing Mara, the devil is in there. Buddha is finally approached by Mara in disguise, which doesn’t fool him and finally has her show her true form, starting the next chapter.

Buddha succeeds in getting Mara to leave Ananda in his care, but refuses to give up trying to kill him or make him suffer relentlessly. When they all leave unharmed, Kassapa wishes to test Buddha’s powers still more and instructs he must cut some logs without touching them, which he does, making Kassapa fear being undermined by Buddha’s power. He demands he then must light the fire, which Buddha refuses and Ananda takes into his own hands in doing, now making it impossible to put out due to spreading and the reservoir being dried out. Ananda, after hearing Buddha’s response to his belief of being the son of a devil, wants to become his disciple and then he sees Lata, who can now say his name. After, Kassapa also wishes to join Buddha and shares with his disciples they are welcome to follow him and have Buddha teach them instead or can leave of their own accord. Kassapa then mentions to Dhepa of his two brothers of which he wishes for they to join them and they goes to ascertain whether they’ll agree, ending the chapter.

We next see Ahimsa getting to Kassapa’s brothers and breaking the news their brother has become a disciple of Buddha’s, which one brother refuses to believe. We next observe Ananda having bad dreams of the people he’s killed and Lata offers to get him herbs to help him sleep dreamlessly, going into the crocodile-infested water and getting trapped. Ananda hears her cries and Buddha goes after her to see if he can reason with the crocodiles. He leads them off to another part of the island and proceeds to lecture them with a sermon, leaving them there to see Kassapa confessing to his brothers why he’s dissolved his sect. After his brothers state they’d consider following Buddha if he came out of the midst of dealing with the crocodiles in one piece, Kassapa leaves and returns to the other disciples still waiting for Buddha’s return, also distinguishing Ananda had run off with Lata and they had found Buddha with Ahimsa, set on dealing out revenge upon Buddha. Ananda defends Buddha until being told to stop due to their conversation being interrupted, regardless of how it was perceived by Ananda. Ahimsa tries to go through with his planned torture of Buddha, but can’t go through with it every time he tries and so Buddha expresses he can speak of the thoughts on his mind, Ahimsa resisting at every opportunity, eventually running off, leaving Ananda, Lata, and Buddha to try and make their way back to their group. Buddha goes back on the backs of the crocodiles to ask for a boat from the Kassapa brothers, who are amazed how they see him crossing the water. One brother decides to grant Buddha’s request with the invitation of giving a sermon to their disciples to see whether they’d like to join him. Buddha accepts and the brother describes his plan to the brother that was shocked about how kindly he was acting towards Buddha, who he’d planned on trying to make look a fool.

The disciples see the notice and head to the mountain to hear the sermon. They try to direct Buddha’s sermon to be about fire and he proceeds by getting one of the Kassapa brothers to close his eyes to “put out” the fire, then shares the story of some ducks and how they were starving in their small pond and so started branching to other sources of survival until we uncover what happens to each in their new area and revealing the ducks decided to stay, survived. Then it goes straight into another story about a bright city and how a poor boy burn’s with the desire to live in the city and partake of the best in life only to have it go wrong in the end and ending where he began. Those stories and Buddha’s advice to one of the Kassapa brother’s disciples finally convince first one then the other to join Buddha and learn from scratch his teachings, upsetting Ahimsa’s plan, whom we see leave them in bad spirits by the end of the volume. Still quite good, but I’m hoping to get to get better in the next volume.

Buddha, Vol. 5: Deer Park (Buddha #5)


For the fourth volume in the series. The next volume begins with Devadatta scouting for warriors to compete for the palace competition, which eventually leads him to Tatta and offering him a slightly different opportunity to join the royal guard. Tatta isn’t interested, but Devadatta doesn’t give up easily. Tatta weighs his options after he realizes he can invade Kosala, agreeing after. They immediately begin training which is more detailed than Tatta bargained for. Devadatta also gives him etiquette techniques he must follow as well, which doesn’t sit well with Tatta at first, but soon enough they’re on their way to visit the King to put Tatta to the test. He impresses the prime minister and Tatta is hired with Devadatta staying on as his manager. Devadatta soon learns of the King Bimbisara’s distress over being killed by his son at the age of forty-one and soon gets the chance to ask the Prince his opinion on the subject, which makes the eight-year-old steam with anger before riding off on his horse. Devadatta believes he and the boy would get along famously due to the lad’s intelligence, but right after those thoughts, they discover the Prince has been attacked by a killer elephant.

Bimbisara soon dispatches a reward to any one man who would go to the mountain to kill the elephant and return the Prince safely. Devadatta elects Tatta, who declines immediately, but Migaila has already gotten his belongings ready for him to go and convinces him to agree with it by suggesting he use his power to enter animals, which he’d not done in years, but couldn’t argue. Soon after getting to the mountain, he locates the elephant trying to bust a tree the Prince had climbed. Tatta goes a safe distance away to try and possess the elephant, which doesn’t work in time for the wind changes and the elephant notices his presence. After getting chased, Tatta gives the animal a killing blow and then almost gets hit with his own blade, but the beast still doesn’t die and so Tatta informs the Prince he is safe and he’s going to follow the elephant. When the Prince reports what happened to Bimbisara, the King orders his soldiers to go track the man down. Meanwhile Tatta detects where the elephant was heading and why the elephant tried to kill any human who got near. When he requests the King to let the elephant alone to die how he wants, at first Bimbisara doesn’t want to comply, but soon Tatta confides them why he should allow it, convincing him to be compassionate.

When Tatta is back home, Devadatta seems almost disgusted by Tatta’s inability to finish off the elephant since he’d been a thief and brigand before. Migaila explains the reason for Tatta’s change in character being due to Siddhartha and how he’d saved her life and Tatta wanted to emulate him. Devadatta has trouble following the point of his endeavor talking with Bimbisara about the subject and getting the advice to go see Siddhartha for himself. When Devadatta goes to look for Siddhartha, he’s annoyed to see he isn’t at the tree the monk said he was, but after speaking to a couple of Siddhartha’s followers, detects he’s in a cave. Devadatta was expecting to be intimidated by Siddhartha, but upon seeing him loses his fear and requests an hour of Siddhartha’s time, which he is reluctant to give and after asking why he’s in the cave instead of outside, Siddhartha confesses of Mara bothering him for the last week at the tree and how he’s been trying to rid himself of it since all it’s doing is making him ascertain a way to die in blissful enlightenment. Devadatta maintained feeding off the weak is the only way to survive and this is why Siddhartha is being plagued by his thoughts, to which Siddhartha denies, but in the end, Devadatta claims he will show him he is right, ending the chapter with the narrative of expecting a tragedy to soon occur.

We begin the second with the Prince not wanting to continue riding his horse due to the thoughts of the elephant coming to mind and when told to study on the subjects which will help him be King, he spots Devadatta and asks to play cards with him. After the Prince loses his King card, he gets upset and is told he will be able to master the game in a year, they move on to pitcher-batter. The King and Queen see how their son is becoming more light-hearted from Devadatta’s influence and whilst the Queen is reluctant to his changing her son, the King believes Devadatta could become a great advisor to him. Then a message from Kosala comes about wanting to have a duel between the two to abate the border conflict once and for all, so the King enlists Tatta’s skill as a fighter. After first declining and then being tricked into accepting by Devadatta, Tatta goes to see what the fighter from Kosala looks like, since he happened to be close by. Upon seeing the man he was to fight was a giant, he then overhears a soldier describe to the giant what kind of man Tatta is, which was mythological in description. After hearing the giant had seen and gotten advice from Siddhartha though, he approaches him after the soldier leaves and they begin bonding over each knowing Siddhartha and Tatta tries to relate to the giant what Siddhartha was like when he was young. Then we get their introductions, Tatta officially meeting Yatala. Tatta goes his seperate way when they both agree to the fate which will befall them the next day when they fight and when Migaila asks why he’s feeling oddly about the match the next day, he confides in her of how he’s feeling insecure about the fight and not having felt this before, to which Migaila states for him to try and let it go, to rest for the coming competition. The next day the rules of the duel are given, making it official the loser must fall and death must follow. The fight is officially begun and the chapter ends.

When they begin, Yatala has the upper hand, but then Tatta gets a blow in to be given another, as well and the fighting continues. They make it to the first break and the Prince wants to supply Tatta with a better weapon, but is told by his father the rules allow only for the weapon he already has, making the Prince go off and talk with Devadatta about it, who says they should wait and see what happens, thinking Tatta will come up with a plan if he lasts the half hour to defeat Yatala the next day. The next round, Tatta makes better headway and is saved by the end of the timed duel, due to resume the next day. Tatta is getting a verbal lashing by the royal priest when the Prince gives him a token of luck. When he gets home to Migaila he shares his plan to extend the game so he can request the next day’s continuation occur in Kosala and go through with his revenge. Migaila reminds him of his promise to Siddhartha to become his first disciple and she professes they will be their together, to confirm Tatta will survive his mission in Kosala. The second part of the fight is shown after and Devadatta is seen with two masked hired men who will help fix the fight. When Tatta and Yatala start, Tatta makes good headway, but then gets into trouble, getting cocky and putting himself in a metaphorical corner, when Yatala falls inexplicably and shouts for Tatta to finish him, but Tatta refuses to comply, knowing foul play is at hand and voices his thought. The King steps in and allows the match to be scored a draw on account of the suspicion and gets Yatala the best medical examiner to diagnose him.

They discern Yatala was poisoned and hasn’t been overcome by this deathly discovery. Devadatta then goes to the same assassin and requests a different sort of potion. After it being provided, he tests it out through sneak attack upon the supplier, being satisfied with the results. We then see the King declaring he will have the assassin be searched for when Devadatta reveals he knows who it was and would like some time to catch him, but the King refuses wanting a name so he can have him brought to him to be judged. Then we see Tatta and Migaila asleep when she gets up to drink some water and Tatta learns what she drank was the poison Devadatta had acquired. Devadatta shows up after Tatta figures out what had happened and fills him in on the reason she was treated with so little regard and lies to him about what “she had done”. In the end, Devadatta has her arrested after showing Tatta the planted poison she had used against Yatala. Devadatta then reveals what will happen to her and how he can save her, which is to travel to Kosala, where they will judge her. The plan was for Tatta to intercept them on the way and retrieve Migaila without killing her captors. He proceeds with his plan, taking them out one by one and leaving a couple to go and inform of their captive being dead. Tatta then decides to flee to the forest of trials as a safe-haven for them.

Tatta tracks him down to some ruins and Devadatta perceives Tatta’s plan, deciding he would see what Siddhartha would do. Tatta locates Siddhartha and congratulates him on his enlightenment, they retreat to his cave and Devadatta curiously looks in on them trying to decipher what Siddhartha could possibly do for them, enjoying the hopelessness of their situation. After Siddhartha is told of Migaila’s poisoned throat, he tries to meditate to identify the truth of her missing voice. Siddhartha helps her unearth her voice again, surprising and devastating Devadatta’s “master plan”. Then Siddhartha notices Devadatta in eye-sight and asks Tatta who it is after he was thanking him for helping Migaila speak again. When Siddhartha gets closer and hears Devadatta’s awed speech, he remembers him, to Tatta’s surprise and then Devadatta asks to become his disciple. Siddhartha asks some preliminary questions and makes Devadatta consider his actions up to this point and whether they were for himself or others. His questions remind Devadatta of Naradatta from his youth and upon Tatta, Migaila and his return home, he starts to consider making an organization to widen the publicity of Buddha’s teachings, becoming more firm with his idea of becoming Buddha’s “manager”.

Siddhartha starts the next chapter in his cave when a deer appears inside and Siddhartha believes the deer wants him to follow him out, but it’s raining and Siddhartha tries to reason with the deer to stay until the weather clears. The deer tries biting Siddhartha’s robe to bring him forward and eventually persuades him out into the rain among other animals, soon realizing the Niranjana River is flooding. Siddhartha then understands the deer had saved him from drowning to stand among the animals in safety. When the weather clears up he allows the deer to show him where he should go next, soon running into a man named Upaka who doesn’t believe Siddhartha when he informs him he’s attained enlightenment and doesn’t have a master, then enquiring where he’s going. Upaka seems to sneer at the idea of Siddhartha following a “beast” on where to head to next and planning to enlighten those there. After Upaka wanders off, Siddhartha continues his journey four hundred miles to Sarnath. When they reach the “Deer Park”, Siddhartha is content with the area and observes other Samanna there including some old “friends” who negatively take the news of Siddhartha’s enlightenment. When they leave, the deer leads him to a comfortable spot to sit and then has the deer as his first official disciple, talking of situations the deer would get in and how to be unafraid of death when it comes. A parable is told, ending the chapter of a deer king whom sacrificed his life to save his kin-folk, impressing upon the human king who hunted them to stop hunting in their forest ever again.

The next chapter begins with the other Samanna wondering who Siddhartha will teach when no one is there, Dhepa being told Siddhartha is teaching the deer. Dhepa doesn’t believe it and goes to see the truth to the ascetic’s words. Dhepa butts into Siddhartha teaching the deer and stops him from continuing by accusing him of sorcery. When they go back to their area, Dhepa begins wondering where all his group had gone, realizing they’d gone to listen to Siddhartha’s sermons. Then we are told a story of an ox who wants to become human. When Siddhartha finishes, the ascetics who left Dhepa ask him to continue and when they return Dhepa chastises them for getting “seduced” by Siddhartha’s words and they in return advise him to try listening to one of his sermons sometime. When Siddhartha was going to continue to give sermons to the deer, he hears a baby deer which was caught in a slope near an ant hill and tries to save it before it gets killed, which Dhepa takes advantage of by convincing himself it’s the perfect trial for Siddhartha to endure. He and the baby deer get bit, but the deer survives and he does as well, but needs more time to heal, the two ascetics having changed their minds to how Dhepa trained them, deciding to go off to the other side of the forest with only one ascetic left to accompany Dhepa. Before making it there though, they see men lying dead, arrows sticking out of them, and Dhepa realizes a war must be going on not long before he ends up getting hit as well, after which, we see an army marching and the chapter ends.

The next begins with Tatta going against the Kosalan army trying to get to the General. When the General shows himself atop an elephant and refuses to fight fairly, Tatta brings him down to his level by force. When he gives Tatta information about Prince Crystal’s sleeping habits, Tatta spares him even though the General is now disgraced and wants death, but Tatta runs off not caring to grant the General’s request. We then see Prince Crystal discover Siddhartha among the deer. Once introductions are given, Prince Crystal takes offense to Siddhartha’s name of Buddha and commands his elephant to crush him because he was blocking his path and ignored the command for him to move. The elephant refuses and Prince Crystal tries to shoot an arrow at Siddhartha, which deer kept leaping in front of to protect him. Prince Crystal then retreats in fear and we go on to see where Tatta’s headed. He had spied on the Prince and noticed he’d been cooped up in his camp for a couple days, upon letting the soldiers know, they wanted to raid them as soon as they could. Tatta stops them, wanting to kill him by himself and deciding to wait until Thursday, which the general agrees to after Tatta allows he attack on Friday. Before Thursday arrives though, the Prince goes off at night on his horse and Tatta follows, still planning on his attack.

The Prince though, has gone in search of Buddha, not caring about anything else. We then see Siddhartha with the group of ascetics who are with Dhepa and what had happened to him in the last chapter. Siddhartha is still trying to figure out a way to help him as the rest of the ascetics focus on the negative qualities and actions Dhepa had done to Siddhartha and he is defending Dhepa by sharing the one thing which was positive. Siddhartha then begins trying to elicit a compatible blood type to transfuse Dhepa’s with and recognizes the only one which works is his own. Then Prince Crystal shows up, commanding Siddhartha to rise and he refusing due to the transfusion, which he explains and the boy not caring, bringing out his sword, adamant in getting Siddhartha to obey him. When the Prince threatens to stab Siddhartha, Tatta comes out and clashes swords with him. Siddhartha stops him and Tatta retreats, torn with how he’ll complete his revenge if he can’t kill the Prince. Then Dhepa begins coming around as Prince Crystal retreats in shame of Tatta getting the best of him, ending the volume. This one was a bit harder to get through, but still pretty good with the Yatala part of the story; I’ll be glad to start the next.

Buddha, Vol. 4: The Forest of Uruvela (Buddha #4) Part 2 of Part 3

For the third volume in the series. This portion begins with Bimbisara brooding on his impending death and his people celebrating his birthday. Siddhartha arrives not long after and Bimbisara reports his impatience in waiting to talk with him, Siddhartha explaining he’d been training elsewhere and hadn’t known of the urgency. Bimbisara confides in Siddhartha of his tortured thoughts and Siddhartha responds by describing to him the ascetics he’s met on his travels. One master accepted them to train with his disciples and harshly disciplined them if they didn’t follow his instructions. The ascetic soon notices of Siddhartha’s uniqueness and offers him a partnership in teaching his disciples with him. Siddhartha declines since the ascetic didn’t know how to teach him what he wanted to learn. The next ascetic was angered at Siddhartha’s conduct towards the master he had gone to before him, Alara, and Siddhartha tries to explain his reasons.

This master, Uddaka gives him a task he thinks Siddhartha will fail, but soon Siddhartha figures out Uddaka’s technique and he as well tries to keep Siddhartha with him, but Siddhartha believed there was an answer to what he was seeking when Dhepa insists their only other option is to undergo another ordeal. Dhepa describes a forest they could travel to start the trials and Siddhartha still can’t comprehend value in damaging one’s body to uncover answers, but agrees to go. When Bimibisara tries to advise him of the risk he’s taking in agreeing to go, Siddhartha replies in return of no one but God decides whether he will survive and so Bimbisara vows to build him a temple with the precious stones Siddhartha couldn’t accept from him upon his return from his trials. When they arrive at the forest, Dhepa is in ascetic trial heaven, seeing many others torturing themselves to enlightenment. Siddhartha then runs into the ascetics who had tested him during his stay atop his tower and noticed one wasn’t present, realizing he had not made it through an ordeal. They also saved some spots for them in case they wanted to start in a certain area, but before beginning, Siddhartha asks Assaji if he will survive through these trials and the answer he gives surprises him.

Siddhartha meets a girl who informs him of the usual time the monks bathe, whilst he’s bathing, making it difficult to come back to shore to dry off. She then shares where she lives and how she knows all the monks who go there so he shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Siddhartha takes her advice and she gives him bug repellent before leaving him. Siddhartha then goes to a village nearby the forest and learns they give to the ascetics, also learning of a house on a hill which doesn’t participate in charity for being pariahs. Siddhartha goes to investigate despite an acetic’s words to stay away and is noticed by another monk before meeting any of the occupants.

They go back to the forest and Siddhartha begins, putting on the repellent and during his meditation, notices large predators are gathering around him rather than bugs. When they retreat, Siddhartha tries to stop breathing and is awakened by Dhepa, giving support to his efforts, also needing to remind Siddhartha of why they do trials in the first place. Then he tries the idea of becoming a tree, stop smelling like a human, so animals wouldn’t bother him and to stop breathing. Then Tatta comes to end the ordeal and to eat something, going so far as to barbecue some meat, but Siddhartha sticks to his resolve and Tatta goes home to care for Migaila, who’s sick after giving birth and not even getting any good results from it. Then we are taken back to the woods where Sujata, the girl asks after Siddhartha and discovers he’s still going through a trial and after being told to let him be, still checks and is shocked by his condition. Thinking he’s died, she goes back to notify Dhepa and he confirms the opposite, requesting her again to let him go through his trial in peace. When she doesn’t and goes so far as to bring him home with her, she’s told by her father she must put him back where she found him, even though she reminds him he taught her to help those in need.

Her father, meanwhile decides to focus on going off with some other locals to deal with the pariah and Sujata takes Siddhartha to a shed to nurse him, reviving him, but in the end he still deciding to go back to the forest to finish his trial, even though he’s ruined his first for being fed. We then see the locals going to the house on the hill and we see it’s Tatta and Magaila who are the occupants. When Tatta tries to defend himself from them with rocks and it escalates to him using a sword on one of the group, which in turn makes them decide to go to the lengths of burning the house down for saying the occupant must be a devil. They bring Tatta to the shed which Siddhartha was brought to, and he’s surprised to see Tatta in his condition. After hesitating to disclose to Siddhartha of his breaking his side of their deal, he relents so he could hopefully help him get loose to protect Magaila, still in the shack on the hill. Tatta gets there in time to get Magaila out, but the house was still burning. Then we see Siddhartha back in the woods and Dhepa berating him for not sticking with the trial and giving in to eating the soup he was given. Siddhartha tries to show how there are plenty of other ways one can suffer in life, pointing out Assaji’s situation for one example.

Then another ascetic expresses of the pariah who’s moved into the forest in a cave and Siddhartha goes to speak with him, with Dhepa warning of his dangerous nature. When Siddhartha locates Tatta and he insists on seeing Magaila who is still sick, he is surprised to see her condition and then, the next scene we see is of Tatta hunting and a group of the locals are back to flush out the pariah, not doing it sooner for Siddhartha’s obvious nobility, but coming to the end of their patience. When the townspeople come to drive Tatta, the pariah out of the woods and is eventually supported by Dhepa, Siddhartha must convince them Tatta and his wife, Migaila are going through one of the most serious trials, regardless of doing it by choice, like the ascetics were, which was Dhepa’s position for one to be in the woods at all and the townspeople try to get him to move on solely because he wasn’t like them. Siddhartha goes to Tatta to update him of what was happening and Migaila began to suggest Tatta killing her being the easiest way to relieve all’s burden, letting them leave and he not being stuck caring for her, which of course, he denied and vowed to help her get well, even though she told him she didn’t seem to be getting any better. After leaving some medicine for Tatta to apply to Migaila’s skin disease, Siddhartha spots Assaji in the woods nearby marking trees for each day they stayed in the forest. After talking about whether Assaji was afraid to die and then determining vaguely how he, Siddhartha would die, he asks if Migaila will survive and discovers he must help her the same way he helped Assaji when he was about to die. When he reflects for courage for what he must do, he goes back to the cave and begins the process, Tatta thinking the lengths he was taking weren’t necessary. By the end of the chapter, Siddhartha and Tatta take turns in the process of ridding Migaila of the poisons in her body, making her feel better, but guilty for having them do what they must to her body, which wasn’t in an attractive state.

After leaving them, Dhepa confronts Siddhartha as to where he’s been going, thinking he’s going to town, which of course Siddhartha denies, but later in the evening when he goes off into the forest again, Dhepa follows to observe. When he sees Siddhartha has been going to the cave, but misunderstands what he’s doing there, Tatta defends him almost to Dhepa’s death, but Siddhartha stops him, even though Dhepa still won’t listen to reason. Tatta is ready to fight Dhepa over his narrow view of pariahs, but Siddhartha reminds Tatta of his wife, who’s too sick to handle the stress and stands down, agreeing to leave, but also changing the agreement he had with Siddhartha, wanting to be his first disciple after he finished his training to his standards. Dhepa meanwhile, decides Siddhartha must repent for his “sinful” acts to Migaila and so begins his punishment. Dhepa begins confiding Siddhartha he’d be better off dying to cleanse his soul and Siddhartha can’t believe and won’t succumb to his giving up on his “treatment”, pleading to be let out of his torture. Assaji helps him at last and Siddhartha thinks it would be better to train with him over Dhepa, who’s beliefs have strayed so far from his own. Siddhartha learns how Assaji has lived and his sleeping quarters seem to suit only for a small body, fortunately for Siddhartha, after falling, Assaji had the sense to make it easy to have a safe landing. Siddhartha soon engages Assaji on how to ignore imminent death, comparing other species tactics. The chapter ends with Siddhartha contemplating those thoughts and the next begins six years passing in the Uruvela forest.

Sujata comes to the forest to have her fortune told by Assaji like many other townspeople and discovers she will have her love but for a day, because the next day he will be unlike any other human. After, Assaji shares with Siddhartha how he will die and Siddhartha must look after his body after Assaji’s death. Then it skips back to Sujata and her father, who is trying to figure out who she’s love-sick for. Eventually he guesses who the culprit is and we are left seeing her yearn to be with him. We go back to Siddhartha and Assaji in the forest and the happenings of Assaji’s last night on Earth. Siddhartha falls asleep on his watch to make sure Assaji didn’t come to harm in the night and when he awakes Assaji has disappeared. Siddhartha takes off trying to detect his whereabouts, seeing him across a field and then realizes how he came to be eaten by animals, giving his life to save them from starvation. Siddhartha is understandably upset by the sight and runs back to the tree he spent the night with Assaji in, going back to the site of Assaji’s sacrifice to retrieve his bones, ending the chapter.

The next begins with Siddhartha seeming to continue his trials where he left off, beginning on the fire made for Assaji’s remains and ending with him in the street getting knocked about by some rocks thrown by villagers. Once he crawls to a place of death and awaits birds to peck at him, some other ascetics, who have followed him, ask him if he’d rather come back to the forest with them to finish his trials properly and how Dhepa would accept him back. Siddhartha goes off on them, confessing to them what they practice is nothing compared to what he’s seen Assaji do, deciding to continue alone and try to emulate Assaji’s selflessness. After training by himself for a bit, Siddhartha sees something happening with the ascetics, who are fighting with each other. He runs into Dhepa and discerns they’ve had a fight and he must choose a side, which Siddhartha refuses and vows to not have anything to do with the forest of trials thenceforth. He goes back to the place he first met Sujata and is surprised to meet her there again. Siddhartha talks of what his plans will be next and Sujata throws herself at him, wanting him to stay with her. He, of course, breaks her heart with his rejection and she runs back home. She soon leaves again the same night and when her parents follow her, they realize she’s met a terrible fate. Her father goes to find Siddhartha and inform him of what’s happened and how he blames him, but bidding him to come back to save her. After being told she’s passed on, Siddhartha tries to use his psychic powers like he had on the animals in his youth, even seeing Sujata for a moment before losing her to something he believed he shouldn’t be seeing. When he thinks he’ll be absorbed into it’s mesh, he then hears the old man he knew in his childhood, he revealing who he is and explaining where they are, also revealing to him what the universe is. After unveiling what he must do to attain enlightenment, he asks him how he can save Sujata and take a soul back with him. In the waking world, Sujata’s parents see her start to breathe again and her father is shocked to see Siddhartha was able to succeed, but realizing he was nowhere to be found, ending the chapter.

We see Siddhartha walking and coming to terms with what he’d seen and whether he believed it was real. Siddhartha decides to locate a tree to reminisce about his enlightening dream on such a beautiful day. He begins sharing his experience to the animals in the forest like they could understand him and upon finishing his tale, meditated until hearing the crickets. Then Dhepa notices him to share news which was given in the forest which involves Siddhartha about his kingdom falling under siege and not knowing the fates of his parents. Siddhartha ponders why Prasenajit would suddenly attack his realm when Dhepa revealed Prasenajit became violently furious to learn the humble beginnings of his queen. We then discover how it occurred, beginning with the King wanting to send his son to Kapilavastu for his education, due to being cheap and having capable teachers. His wife tries to dissuade him, but he insists and once the prince begins school, he is mysteriously a black sheep. The children reveal his common blood and he leaves for home to confront his mother, she concedes it’s truth and the boy wants to kill her, but his father stays his hand and blames the royals of Kapilavastu, leaving his wife out of the trouble. The prince still has her moved to the slave quarters and is mournful of it. They siege upon Kapilavastu on Siddhartha’s sixth year in the forest. His parents and wife stand trial and Prasenajit vows to have all of the Shakya tribe pay for their deceit. He decides to have the King executed and the families exiled out of the country and if anyone has a problem with it, the King swiftly kills them. Then his son requests the lives of the boys who tormented him in school, which is carried out. Meanwhile the royal family is imprisoned and Siddhartha senses Yashodara yearning for his aid and is torn between staying for his training and leaving to help them, ending the chapter with Siddhartha tormented by his position.

The next chapter begins with an event which happens about a year before what we ended on in the last. We see a man tear apart a beast in the water who turns out to be Yatala, the title of the chapter, and some men are deciding his fate because of Yatala’s actions. One man comes out saying he is the one who can succeed in the deed. We discover Yatala’s humble background whilst the warrior reveal where he comes from. We then ascertain Yatala having an uncommon upbringing due to his father being quite clever and teaching his son to be the same, also giving him a drug made up of herbs which would make him stronger than any whip or assault of any kind could damage him by adulthood. After having this conversation with his son, a man comes into their home, pointing a sword at his father and delivers an odd death to him and his wife, leaving Yatala with the warning he’d better not turn out like his father since he was letting him live. Yatala buries his parents and takes the medicine his father had given to him and then grew taller and stronger each year, but also losing his humanity. He runs into the beast whom dealt the deaths of his parents years later and bestowed his vengeance upon it, after which being driven out of Anga coming back once in awhile delivering death to whomever got in his way.

After the townspeople update the warrior to Yatala’s history, he cuts them short to determine where he is, his horse sensing danger well before he, threatening the beast to continue on, is found by Yatala. The warrior introduces himself and then shows him what his gun can do. Yatala is injured and then taken for dead by the warrior, he deciding to take a nap for some reason, but is woken up by Yatala giving as good as he had taken. Yatala continued to instill fear into anyone who saw even his footprints and only drew fearful reactions from those who would actually run into him. The townspeople would try repetitively to kill him and fail. Yatala travels some distance away after their latest experiment and we see a young royal traveling with entourage and being told of a demon whom was terrorizing the area and they should retreat, which only perks the boy’s interest and deciding he wants to stay the night, only to have his horse bristle with fear and they then meet Yatala. After laying out everyone in his group, he takes the Prince and tries to speak to him. Yatala tries to understand why the Prince isn’t afraid of him and he gets around to letting the Prince realize he’s his hostage. The Prince puts bribery on the table for his release, then offers him to be his wrestler for a tournament held in his kingdom each year, with all the luxuries it comes with, but before Yatala decides anything, it seems the Prince’s army has come to his rescue and leaves his offer as a way for Yatala to come out of the probable death which was walking towards him. Yatala faces the crowd and threatens he will kill the boy if they come after him; he gets arrows shot at him. Yatala threatens the Prince with them and the army asks what he wants in order to keep the Prince safe. Yatala explains who he is and what happened to his parents, hating the world and it’s class system. He declares he will fight until castes are eradicated, then the Prince shares his own background, but Yatala doesn’t believe him.

In the end, Yatala goes on good faith and lets the Prince go with a warning if he’s lied to him he won’t forgive him for it. The Prince still offers him a position in his employment and hopes to hear from him as he parts company with him. Once he’s back on his horse, he announces to the guard of his plans on taming the giant and expects to see him the next day, which Yatala fulfills. When Yatala goes inside he states to the Prince of being his servant rather than joining the Kosala guard, which was also an offer, but still maintaining he will not forgive the Prince if he betrays him. He gets fitted for his outfit and the Prince has already gotten comfortable giving out orders as to the conduct of when and where he’s to wear the mask he’s been given and where he will sleep, as well as staying out of the palace unless requested otherwise, after he goes to his “quarters” and sleeps. His father talks to the Prince about how the giant’s foot is making cracks on his wall for kicking it in his sleep and the Prince explains he’s hardly a concern with how much good they’ll get from training him. He relents, feeling bad for the boy’s unfortunate breeding and deals with the knocking of Yatala as he tries to go to sleep.

The next time we see Yatala he is training, after some time he takes a rest and sees a young woman gathering water from a well, ending up scaring her and trying to introduce himself with his mask askew on his face. He continues to try and calm her, noticing she’d been crying and soon her features hit him as being familiar and asks how her son could put her in slave quarters, revering his mother and putting mothers on a pedestal regardless of their class. He ends up wanting to mention to the Prince to let his mother out of the slave house, but she would rather him let it alone, leaving. The next time Yatala sees the Prince he’s as good as his word, bringing up seeing the Prince’s mother and expressing to him he didn’t forgive him for his conduct towards her after his explanation to why he’d put her there. The Prince considers Yatala’s display insolent and decides punishment is in order to teach him the lesson he deemed necessary.

Then we see the Prince’s mother in her quarters and Yatala is trying to give her some leftover food from a banquet he’d been to, she’s trying to get him to leave because what he’s doing is not allowed, of course and in the process he ends up spilling the food he’s trying to hand her through the bars, after which he’s discovered and gets his head stuck, putting a hole through the wall, getting more lashes for his “crime”, the Prince scoffing at Yatala’s kindness to his mother. Soon they have the problem of the plague passing through the slave quarters and the Prince needing to decide to allow it to be burnt down, with the rest of the slaves in it. His father comes to him after hearing about his agreement and tries to reason with his son. The Prince still goes through with it, showing only slight regret and when Yatala sees the smoke from the fire, he goes to save the Prince’s mother. He runs to the outside of the castle and claims her as his “Mama”, the Prince following him, overhearing what he confesses of the fire to her and then reveals himself and what he’d done. The Prince then orders Yatala to take her somewhere far away to die and to come back to the castle. He takes her a long way off, but can’t leave her since she’s displaying signs of sickness, so he decides to keep going and take her to a doctor, but on the way she doesn’t make it and the Prince was following him, seeing him mourn his mother’s death.

After Yatala walks away, the Prince goes to where he’d buried her and mourns her death as well, finally displaying sadness, saying he hadn’t before because of being watched by his guards. Yatala meanwhile, is wishing for death so he can be close to “Mama” again. He walks a bit more and notices Siddhartha sitting under a tree and asks him why there are fortunate and unfortunate people. Siddhartha asks in return what Yatala’s story is. After being told he reports to Yatala how unfortunate the Prince sounded as well, not being able to show his affection for his mother all those years. Yatala then has the realization there aren’t any fortunate humans upsetting. After Siddhartha gives him hope, Yatala asks to become his disciple, but Siddhartha declines due to training still and Yatala announces he’ll wait forever if need be for when Siddhartha is ready to teach, which Siddhartha didn’t see as being in his future. When Yatala leaves, feeling better, back to Kosala, Siddhartha is soon shocked by the declarations he’d told him, not knowing where he’d come up with them or why he’d even spoken in the first place. After, the Brahma comes back to congratulate Siddhartha on his enlightenment. Siddhartha still doesn’t believe he’s able to teach anyone of what he’s learned, but the Brahma gives him a holy sign and proclaims he will from then on be called Buddha and the book ends on a bright light. A pretty interesting and entertaining volume. Until the next.