Mémoire Du Jour

Rain Chudori's Mémoire Du Jour, or Memory of the Day, is a monthly column
in The Murmur House that records small, intimate, and eternal memories in the form of philosophy,
film, music, art, literature, and love. It is something new, something old, something you.


welcome home, starling

you are safe now

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

“She would live now, not read.” 
― Alice Munro, Dear Life: Stories

I am sitting in the sunlit kitchen, listening to opera from the radio with the windows open. On the table is a black leather journal, a pen, and a pile of books. There are a lot of things that I have yet to finish: a column for this month (yes, this one), an essay for a magazine, a new chapter for my novel set to come out in 2017, and yet, I couldn't find the words to complete any of these tasks. I looked at the sunflower my partner had bought. We don't have a vase, so we had placed it in a Coca Cola bottle by the window. It is a beautiful day in Essen. There is sunlight, and that should be enough for me.  

"I want to be so happy that I will no longer be able to write." I told my partner once, breaking our promise of quietness.

"Well, then you need to learn how to love quietness." He said. 

The kitchen is my favorite part of the apartment. There is something that I absolutely love about the space, small and all in white, with everything you could ever need for a warm, gentle day. Morning time is quiet time, we promised to each other. I prepare tea for us – mint or ginger tea for my partner, Sariwangi for me – and we have a light breakfast, consisting of toast, marmalade, cream cheese, and sometimes, an omelette. Occasionally, my partner heads to the bakery and buys us fresh bread, coffee, and flowers. But for the most part, we stay quiet. 

“She hoped he wouldn’t ask what she was doing at the party. If she had to say she was a poet, her present situation, her overindulgence, would be taken as drearily typical.” 
― Alice Munro, Dear Life: Stories

In the beginning, the empty hours were bewildering. Most afternoons, we spend in the city together, but on hours that my partner has work or class, I spend alone in the apartment. In my own city, I was accustomed to occupying myself with classes, project meetings, media interviews, writing deadlines, and film shootings. My career was a way for me to escape reality. If I found enough things to occupy myself with, I would not have to think about, or better yet, feel anything about the conflicts in my life. If I gathered enough money, I would one day be able to escape. If I found enough respect, I would not need love. I would come home, exhausted, hungry, with no more hours to spare for anything but sleep. Most of the time, I would even dream about the work that I had to do. A career, something that should be driven by passion, that should fill your life to the brim, that should be so wholesome (and they were, sometimes), became my entire identity. And because of that, I was completely empty. 

And then, I fell in love with the kitchen. It was a strange, unsuitable love. I grew up far away from the kitchen. Throughout my entire life, I had always lived with a cook in the house. My parents, who imparted in me their ambitions and work ethic, did not visit the kitchen except on special occasions. Whenever I was ill, my mother would stay home and make me my comfort food: soft omelettes, mashed potatoes, spaghetti bolognese. Sometimes, my father would feel nostalgic for his childhood in Paris, and head to the kitchen to make us rabbit steak with mushroom sauce and belgian fries. This distance extended to other rooms beyond the kitchen. We do not open our own windows, we do not change our own sheets, we do not feel the warmth of our laundry because we do not fold it ourselves, we do not arrange the things inside of our house. Our home depended on the talent and labors of other hands. 

What was, in the beginning, merely a household routine, became a pleasure to me. There was something calming about placing the groceries where they belong, arranging the jars of jams and spices, cooking for hours and hours, sharing a meal, and then feeling the cold water as I wash the dishes. This pleasure extended to other rooms beyond the kitchen. I woke up looking forward to opening the windows, airing out the sheets, folding the warm laundry, arranging everything inside the apartment. Before this, I had never felt or understood, what it meant to take care of a home, to have a mutual understanding with the person you love in order to maintain it, and to have a home depending on the talent and labors of our own hands. 

“The thing is to be happy,” he said. “No matter what. Just try that. You can. It gets to be easier and easier. It’s nothing to do with circumstances. You wouldn’t believe how good it is. Accept everything and then tragedy disappears.” 
― Alice Munro, Dear Life: Stories

The kitchen is my favorite part of the apartment. There is something that I absolutely love about the space, small and all in white, with everything you could ever need for a warm, gentle day. Morning time is quiet time, we promised to each other.  We read our newspaper – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung for my partner, Deutsche Welle for me – and tell each other what we've read on politics, economics, culture. Occasionally, we make plans for the day and divide our household chores. But for the most part, we stay quiet. 

"I want to be so happy that I no longer want to write." I told my partner, breaking our promise of quietness. 

"Look," My partner said, "Your flower is turning to the sun." 

I am sitting in the sunlit kitchen, listening to opera from the radio, with the windows open. On the table is a black leather journal, a pen, and a pile of books. There are a lot of things that I have yet to finish: a column for this month (finally, almost finished), an essay for a magazine, a new chapter for my novel set to come out in 2017, and yet, I still can't find the words to complete any of these tasks. I looked at the sunflower my partner had bought. We don't have a vase, so we had placed it in a Coca Cola bottle by the window. It is a beautiful day in Essen. There is sunlight, and that should be enough for the world. 

A Sense of An Ending

A Sense of An Ending

Always Asleep

Always Asleep