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“Bee Honey” by Banana Yoshimoto

“Bee Honey” by Banana Yoshimoto

We read and discussed “Bee Honey” in the class today.

The story unfolds itself in Buenos Aires. The protagonist flees Japan not to face sorrow. She walks, walks and walks so that she doesn’t have to think. One day, she bumps into the procession of “mothers wearing white scarves” in the Plaza de Mayo. They do the procession for the sake of their sons and daughters who were killed by the military junta in the late 1970s.

Being in the plaza, watching that procession, the protagonist thinks about what are mothers, family, and sorrow. Regardless of countries, she finds universal qualities of mothers. Those characteristics can be epitomized in a drink “bee honey” that her mother used to make when she was sick.

“Something heavy, sweet, endlessly deep”.

The juxtapositions of her mother and husband; Japan and Argentina; and her and “mothers wearing white scarves” are beautifully interwoven in the story. With the help of encountering something exterior and external, the protagonist becomes a bit stronger and grows.

This story reminds me of when I used to live in Paris. Whenever I wanted to face myself and reflect on my life, I would frequent Le Jardin du Luxembourg. Doing nothing on a bench, or reading a book, I just saw the sceneries changing in front of me. Somehow, it gave me strength.

“Bee Honey” has become the best short story of Yoshimoto for me. What is yours?

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