February 18th, 2018


Chapter 2 - やまない黄砂 The Unrelenting Yellow Sand

The chapter picks up with Kouta, his 8 year old younger sister, Meme, and their mother celebrating her discharge from the hospital at a family restaurant. His mother insisted on a family restaurant because it’s cheap and with her medical expenses and Meme’s education expenses money is tight.

Kouta’s girlfriend Megumi comes to join them, bringing with her a gift for Kouta’s mother in congratulations for leaving the hospital. She protests saying that she’ll have to go back eventually anyway.

Kouta thinks about how his mother had had to leave her job at the bank in order to care for his grandmother, surviving off of only savings, the grandmother’s social security, and her goodbye bonus. She cared for her while working a side job to try and make money, never showing any signs of tiredness. Kouta himself had tried to help by increasing the amount of time he worked at his part time job, helping around the house, and taking care of his younger sister.

However when his grandmother’s condition suddenly worsened and she passed away, only 49 days later his mother’s health also declined. She wasn’t able to eat very much and because of that got sick easily so Kouta took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with mild depression.

He tried to look after her but a month ago she got pneumonia. He had tried to do what he could to protect his family, but by failing to find a job everything he had done to this point was for nothing. Though his mother is looking better now than before, she hasn’t regain all the weight she lost, the one good thing is that she was recovering from her depression.

Meme plays on her 3DS the whole time they’re at the restaurant, refusing to stop when Kouta asks her until forcibly closes it. As they eat they talk about how Megumi is working at a well known travel agency, and Kouta’s mother praises her for getting a job at such a prominent company. Megumi brushes it off as a fluke rather than because of her hard work, but Kouta still finds the contrast intolerable. Kouta understands that his mother and Megumi continue to talk about travel to try not let the mood get dark which is also painful for him.

He thinks about how the last trip he went on was when his father was still alive, they went to Guam and tried to swim despite the poor weather. However, since their father passed shortly after Meme was born, she has never been abroad let alone even out of Tokyo.

Meme asks Kouta if he got the job with the game company and he tells her that he didn’t. The conversation is saved from becoming too awkward when Meme complains that she was looking forward to getting lots of games when he worked there.

Kouta picked that game company as his first choice because he knew Meme would be happy. He applied to 7 different companies, and made it to the final round with a company called DDL, a subsidiary company of the big game maker company AIDA, that makes mainly smart phone games. They started hiring people on their own rather after making a game that was a big hit.

Since it was the only final interview he went on, Kouta remembers it very clearly, and thought that he did his best in the interview. Since it went so well, when he wasn’t hired rather than regret, he felt something closer to hatred. He remembers the interviewers who didn’t pick him every night, cursing them despite knowing that it won’t change anything.

Megumi insists on picking up the tab for all their lunches and they head back home, where Meme and the mother retire to their room and Megumi and Kouta go to his. Megumi can tell from Kouta curt responses that he’s upset about something, and when she asks him what’s wrong he asks her why she paid for the bill, saying that they should have split it. He also accuses her of ordering an expensive lunch to spite him and tells her that his family doesn’t have the money to go on trips. Megumi says she didn’t know what they had ordered, and that’s why she felt she should pay also countering that it’s fun to imagine what trips you could take in the future.

Kouta notes that this is a fundamental difference between them, while Megumi has hopes for the future, for him the future is like a road that you must clean despite yellow sand constantly falling on to it. No matter how much you clean the yellow sand continues to pile up, but you can’t rest and have no room to think of the future.

Megumi tells Kouta that she thinks he’s too negative and that Meme shouldn’t spend so much time playing games and spend more time talking with her family. Kouta explains that Meme spends a lot of time alone since he had to be at school or work and would be lonely if she couldn’t play. So he intentionally tries to let her play as much as possible. He gets angry when Megumi still protests saying she wants Meme to be happy, countering that Meme is happy now playing games, which is better than chasing after some vague future happiness and that he’s the one who worries about her and understands her the most.

Both are upset and emotional, and when Kouta kisses Megumi she kisses him back and they end up having sex. Afterwards, when they’re lying in bed and about to go to sleep, Meme knocks on their door saying that she can’t sleep with their mom there, requesting to sleep with them. They let her in and the three of them lay together in the single bed and Megumi and Meme fall asleep.

Kouta thinks back to when he met Shizuku, after eating soba they drank together until morning and Shizuku kept pressing Kouta to become a host. That night Kouta never gave him an answer, still having a hard time excepting the reality that he didn’t find a job. He acknowledges that being a host might be the best way for him to support his family now. Shizuku told him that the previous month he made 1,000,000 yen and that Kouta could reach that level quickly if he worked hard.

Kouta thinks about all things he imagines you need to be a host, such as having looks that women like, being charming, and being able to drink. The only one he has is being able to drink. He also has always looked down people who work in the night life business, though Shizuku has started to break down his negative image. With his frank and relaxed manner, and the way he walked through Shinjuku with everyone calling out to him, he appeared heroic.

Though he still feels unsure, he has no time to be uncertain and Kouta messages Shizuku saying he wants to talk more and Shizuku messages him back right away sending a stamp of a character that Meme likes saying ok!