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I tried to read, but found that I could not concentrate. An hour later, I heard Sensei calling from beneath my window. Surprised, I looked out. I looked at my watch and saw that it was past eight o'clock. I had not bothered to take off my dress trousers when I returned. I left my room immediately. That evening, Sensei and I drank beer together. Sensei was not a heavy drinker.

He was not the sort of person to go on drinking if a reasonable amount did not have any cheering effect on him. I could not forget what had happened earlier that day. It bothered me terribly, like a fish bone in my throat. I could not decide whether I should tell him about it or not. Sensei noticed my anxiety.

Have you noticed? And I allowed myself to become stupidly excited. And when I tell her so, she refuses to listen. That is why today, for instance, I unwittingly lost my temper. How he suffered, my imagination then could not conceive.

On our way back, we walked for a while in silence. Then he began to speak again. I should not have left home in such a fit of temper. My wife must be worried about me. When we think about it, women are unfortunate creatures.

My wife, for instance, has no one in this world but me to depend upon. Which is laughable. Tell me, how do I appear to you? Do you think me a strong or a weak person? My reply, it would seem, was a little unexpected. He became silent again, and we continued our walk. The road leading to Sensei's house passed very near my own lodgings. When we reached the corner of my street and I was about to bid him goodnight, I began to feel that it would somehow be heartless to leave him then and there.

He made a quick, negative gesture with his hand. It's late. I must go home too. For my wife's sake Because of them I was able to enjoy an untroubled sleep that night. And for a long time after, those words stayed with me: "For my wife's sake I knew then that the disagreement which had occurred between them was not very serious. I continued to visit them regularly, and I could see that it had been an exceptional occurrence.

Moreover, he took me into his confidence one day and said:. No woman but my wife moves me as a woman. And my wife regards me as the only man for her. From this point of view, we should be the happiest of couples. I cannot remember clearly why it was that he took the trouble of telling me this. But I do remember that his manner at the time was serious, and that he was calm. What struck me then as being odd was his last remark: " Why did he not say, "We are the happiest of couples"? Was Sensei indeed happy?

I could not but wonder. But very soon, I brushed aside my doubts concerning Sensei's happiness. One day, for the first time since I met her, I had a good talk with Sensei's wife. I had previously asked Sensei to discuss a book with me, and he had kindly invited me to visit him that day for that purpose. I arrived at nine o'clock in the morning, as arranged. I found Sensei out. A friend of his, I learned, was sailing from Yokohama, and Sensei had gone to see him off at Shimbashi. In those days, the boat train to Yokohama customarily left Shimbashi at eight-thirty in the morning.

Sensei had left a message for me, however, saying that he would be back soon and that I should wait. While waiting for Sensei, therefore, I talked to his wife. By then, I was already a university student. I had also become quite familiar with Sensei's wife. Therefore, when I found myself alone with her, I did not feel at all ill at ease. We talked of this and that. I should not have remembered the conversation at all, had it not been for the fact that, in the course of it, we talked of one matter which was of particular interest to me.

Before I go on to say what this was, I should perhaps explain a few things about Sensei. Sensei was a graduate of the university. I knew this from the first. But it was only after my return to Tokyo from Kamakura that I discovered he had no particular employment. I wondered at the time how he managed to support himself. Sensei lived in complete obscurity. Apart from myself, there was no one who knew of Sensei's scholarship or his ideas.

I often remarked to him that this was a great pity. But he would pay no attention to me. Indeed, he was sometimes not above saying rather unkind things about those of his classmates who had since their graduation made names for themselves. This apparent inconsistency in his attitude, which was at once modest and contemptuous, I quite frankly pointed out to him once.

I did not do this in a rebellious spirit. I simply regretted the fact that the world was indifferent to Sensei, whom I admired so much. In a very quiet voice, Sensei answered me:. I do not have the right to expect anything from the world.

I did not know whether what I saw was despair, regret, or grief. I had not the courage to say any more. As Sensei's wife and I sat and talked, our conversation drifted naturally to the subject of Sensei. But I doubt that that is the reason. I am sure he would like to do something, really. But somehow, he can't.

I am very sorry for him. Do you think that I would be worrying so much, if I did? I feel so sorry for him. Her tone of voice held a great deal of sympathy. Her lips, however, were smiling slightly. As far as our outward manner was concerned, I must have seemed the more anxious of the two.

I sat there, silent and serious. She looked up, as though she suddenly remembered something, and said:. He was quite different. He has changed so. She was a Tokyo woman. Both Sensei and she herself had told me this before. Her father had actually come from some such place as Tottori, while her mother had been born in Ichigaya, when Tokyo was still known as Yedo. For this reason, she once said, half-jokingly, "I am, as a matter of fact, of mixed blood.

It was clear to me, therefore, that her place of origin could not explain how she had come to know Sensei when he was a student. But seeing the blush on her face when I touched on the subject of their youthful acquaintance, I asked no more about it. In the years between my first meeting with Sensei and his death, I came to know much of what he thought and felt, but, concerning the circumstances of his marriage, he told me almost nothing.

I was inclined, sometimes, to regard this reserve on Sensei's part in a favorable light. After all, I would tell myself, he quite naturally would consider it indiscreet and in bad taste to speak of his early courtship to a youth such as myself. But sometimes I was inclined to regard his reserve unfavorably. I liked then to think that his reluctance to discuss such a matter was due to timidity born of the conventions of a generation ago.

I thought myself more free, in this respect, and more open-minded, than either Sensei or his wife. Whatever my thoughts regarding Sensei's reserve might have been, they were, of course, only speculations. And there was always, at the back of my speculations, the assumption that their marriage had been the flowering of a beautiful romance. My assumption was not proved entirely wrong.

But I was imagining only a small part of the truth that lay behind their love story. I could not know that there had been in Sensei's life a frightening tragedy, inseparable from his love for his wife. Nor did his own wife know how wretched this tragedy had made him. To this day she does not know.

Sensei died keeping his secret from her. Before he could destroy his wife's happiness, he destroyed himself. I shall not speak here of the tragedy in Sensei's life. And, as I have said before, Sensei and his wife told me almost nothing of their courtship, which had come into being as though for the sake of the tragedy.

Sensei's wife said little about it for modesty's sake, but there was a far profounder reason for Sensei's silence. One day, during the flower-viewing season, Sensei and I went to Ueno. I remember that day well. While we were going there, we happened to see a good-looking couple walking close together, beneath the flowering trees.

The place being rather public, they, rather than the flowers, seemed to be the object of interest for many people. There was not even a trace of a smile on Sensei's face. He began deliberately to walk away from the couple. He then said to me:. But actually, you sounded to me like a person who is dissatisfied because he has not yet been able to fall in love, though he wants to.

A person who has been in love himself would have been more tolerant and would have felt warmer towards the couple. But--but do you know that there is guilt also in loving? I wonder if you understand me. There was a large crowd around us, and every face in it looked happy. We had little opportunity to talk until we reached the woods, where there were no flowers and no people. In fact, you ought to know already. Your heart has been made restless by love for quite some time now. If you could fall in love with some particular person, you wouldn't be so restless.

The friendship that you sought in me is in reality a preparation for the love that you will seek in a woman. But being the kind of man that I am, I cannot help you to rid your heart of that feeling of want. Moreover, peculiar circumstances have made me even more useless than I might have been as a friend. I am truly very sorry. That you will eventually go elsewhere for consolation is a fact I must accept. Indeed, I even hope that you will. But such a thought has so far never crossed my mind.

You may not derive much satisfaction from our friendship, but at least, there is no danger in it. Do you know what it feels like to be tied down by long, black hair? I could imagine what Sensei meant, but inexperienced as I was, his words held no reality for me. Also, I had no notion of what Sensei meant by "guilt.

Otherwise, please let us not discuss this matter again, until I have myself found out what this 'guilt' is. I had intended to make you aware of certain truths. Instead, I have only succeeded in irritating you. It was wrong of me. Sensei and I walked slowly in the direction of Uguisudani, past the back of the museum.

Through the gaps in the fencing, we could see dwarf bamboos growing thickly in one part of the garden. There was about the scene an air of deep, secluded peace. Sensei's question was totally unexpected. He should, of course, have known that I did not know. I remained silent. Then, as though realizing what he had just said, Sensei went on:. I was trying to explain my earlier remarks because I thought they had irritated you.

But in trying to explain, I find that I have upset you once more. Let us forget the whole matter. But remember, there is guilt in loving. And remember too that, in loving, there is something sacred. I was more mystified than ever by Sensei's talk. But I never heard him mention the word "love" again.

Being young, I was rather inclined to become blindly devoted to a single cause. At least, so I must have appeared to Sensei. I considered conversation with Sensei more profitable than lectures at the university. I valued Sensei's opinions more than I did those of my professors. Sensei, who went his solitary way without saying very much, seemed to me to be a greater man than those famous professors who lectured to me from their platforms.

Sensei, however, refused to take me seriously. When that fever passes, your enthusiasm will turn to disgust. Your present opinion of me makes me unhappy enough. But when I think of the disillusionment that is to come, I feel even greater sorrow.

He seemed vexed as he turned his face towards the garden. Not long before, the garden had been full of camellias. But now, the flowers, which had brightened the scenery with their rich, red color, were all gone. It had been Sensei's custom to look out from his room and gaze at them.

I could hear the cry of a goldfish vendor from the lane on the other side of the hedge. There was no other sound. The house was some distance from the main road, and we seemed to be surrounded by a complete calm. All was quiet, as usual, inside the house itself. I knew that Sensei's wife was in the next room, busy at her sewing or some such work. And I knew also that she could hear what we were saying. But I momentarily forgot this, as I said:.

And not trusting myself, I can hardly trust others. There is nothing that I can do, except curse my own soul. It is what I have done that has led me to feel the way I do. At first, my own act shocked me. Then, I was terribly afraid.

I wanted to pursue the conversation, but we were interrupted by the voice of Sensei's wife, calling him from behind the door. What is it? I had hardly begun to wonder why Sensei had been called to the next room when he returned. You will learn to regret it if you do. And if you ever allow yourself to feel betrayed, you will then find yourself being cruelly vindictive. I do not want your admiration now, because I do not want your insults in the future. I bear with my loneliness now, in order to avoid greater loneliness in the years ahead.

You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves. After that day, I used to wonder each time I saw Sensei's wife whether Sensei's attitude towards her reflected his inner thoughts and, if so, whether she could be satisfied with her condition.

But I could discern neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction in her manner. Of course, I was not close enough to her to know what her real feelings were. I rarely saw her away from Sensei: besides, in my presence, her behavior was always that of the conventional hostess.

I wondered also why Sensei felt the way he did towards mankind. Was it, I would ask myself, the result of a coldly impartial scrutiny of his own inner self and the contemporary world around him? And if one were as naturally reflective, intelligent; and as removed from the world as Sensei, would one inevitably reach the same conclusions?

Such tentative explanations, however, which suggested themselves to my mind, did not completely satisfy me. Sensei's opinions, it seemed to me, were not merely the result of cloistered reflection. They were not, as it were, like the skeleton of a stone house which has been gutted by fire.

They were more alive than that. True, Sensei, as I saw him, was primarily a thinker. But his thoughts, I felt, were based firmly on a strong sense of reality. And this sense of reality did not come so much from observation of the experience of others removed from himself, as from his own experience. Such speculations, however, added little to my understanding of Sensei. Sensei, as a matter of fact, had already given me reason to believe that his thoughts were indeed forced upon him by the nature of his experience.

But he had hinted only, and his hints were to me like a vast threatening cloud hanging over my head, vague in outline and yet frightening. The fear within me, nevertheless, was very real. I tried to explain to myself Sensei's view of life by imagining a love affair in his youth--between Sensei and his wife, of course--involving violent passion at first, and perhaps regret later.

Such an explanation, I liked to think, would more or less take into account the association in Sensei's mind of guilt with love. Sensei, however, had admitted to me that he was still in love with his wife. The cause of Sensei's pessimism, then, could not reasonably be traced to their relationship with each other.

It seemed that Sensei's misanthropic views which he had expressed to me applied to the modern world in general, but not to his wife. The memory of the grave in the cemetery at Zoshigaya would come back to me from time to time. That this grave was of some profound significance to Sensei, I knew well.

I, who had come so close to Sensei and yet understood him so little, regarded the grave as something that held, in a sense, a fragment of his life. But whatever was buried in it was dead for me, and I knew that I would not find in it the key to Sensei's heart. Indeed, the grave stood like some monstrous thing, forever separating us. Meanwhile, it so happened that I had another occasion to have a conversation with Sensei's wife.

It was at the time of the year when the days grow shorter and there is everywhere a feeling of restless activity. There was already a chill in the air. During the previous week, there had been a series of burglaries in Sensei's neighborhood. They had all taken place in the early hours of the evening. Nothing of great value had been stolen. The houses had been broken into nevertheless, and Sensei's wife was uneasy. Unfortunately, Sensei was obliged to be away from the house one evening.

A friend of his from the same part of the country as himself, and who was a doctor in some provincial hospital, had come up to Tokyo. Sensei and two or three others were taking him out to dinner that evening. Explaining the situation, Sensei asked me to stay with his wife until he returned. I agreed to do so willingly. It was dusk when I reached the house. Sensei, who was a punctilious man, had already left.

He left only a minute ago," said Sensei's wife, as she led me to her husband's study. The study was furnished partly in the Western style, with a desk and some chairs. A great number of books, bound beautifully in leather, gleamed through the glass panes of the book cases. Sensei's wife bade me sit down on a cushion by the brazier.

I could not help feeling ill at ease, rather like a chance visitor waiting for the master of the house to return. I could hear Sensei's wife talking to the maid in the morning room, which was along the same corridor as the study.

The study, however, was at the end, and was therefore in a very quiet part of the house. When Sensei's wife stopped talking, I was surrounded by complete silence. Expecting the burglar to appear any minute, I sat very still and listened for any suspicious sound that might break the silence. About half an hour later, Sensei's wife appeared at the door, "Well! She seemed both surprised and amused when she saw me sitting there, stiff and serious like a strange guest.

I brought you some tea, thinking you must be bored. You can have it there. I followed Sensei's wife out of the study. An iron kettle was singing on a handsome, long brazier in the morning room. There, I was given black tea and cakes. Sensei's wife refused to drink tea herself, saying that she would not be able to go to sleep if she did. It seems that, of late, he has become less inclined than ever to see people. You might as well have reasoned that he cannot be fond of me, since I am a part of the world that he dislikes.

You men certainly will argue about anything, and with such obvious pleasure too. Her words, I thought, were a little harsh. But they did not seem offensive to me. Sensei's wife was not so modern a woman as to take pride and pleasure in being able to display her mental prowess. She valued far more that thing which lies buried in the bottom of one's heart.

I wanted to say more. But I was afraid of being taken for one of these argumentative men, and so I became silent. I quickly handed the cup over to her. She had picked up a lump of sugar with a strange instrument, and was looking at me when she said this. She was not exactly trying to be ingratiating, but she was undoubtedly trying to eradicate the effect on me of her harsh words by her charming manner.

Why don't you ask Sensei? It would be more sensible to ask him. You mustn't try to evade my question so frivolously. I wish you would be more honest with me. You are very fond of Sensei, aren't you? And with such a grave face, too! He seems to take little enough pleasure in this world as it is. What would he do without you? I don't want to know how he would answer this question. I want to know what you honestly think. Would he be happy, do you think, or unhappy?

Though Sensei might not think that I do. Sensei would be far more unhappy without me. Why, he might not even want to go on living, without me. It may seem very conceited of me, but I do really believe that I am able to make him as happy as is humanly possible. I believe that no one else would be able to make him as happy as I can. Without this belief, I would not be as contented as I am. There is no reason why I should be. But you see, he seems to be rather weary of the world. Indeed, it would be more correct to say of Sensei these days that he is weary of people.

And seeing that I am one of those creatures that inhabit this world, I can hardly hope to be regarded as an exception. I was deeply impressed by her capacity for sympathy and understanding. What also impressed me was the fact that, though her ways were not those of an old-fashioned Japanese woman, she had not succumbed to the then prevailing fashion of using "modern" words.

I was a rather simple-minded young man; women, for example, were total strangers to the kind of world I knew or had experienced. True, being a man, I felt an instinctive yearning for women. But the yearning in me was little more than a vague dream, hardly different from the yearning in one's heart when one sees a lovely cloud in the spring sky.

Often, when I found myself face to face with a woman, my longing would suddenly disappear. Instead of being drawn to the woman, I would feel a kind of repulsion. Such, however, was not my reaction to Sensei's wife. I did not even feel, when I was with her, that intellectual gulf which so often separates men from women.

Indeed, I soon forgot that she was a woman, and came to regard her as the one person with whom I could share my sincere and sympathetic interest in Sensei. There was hope and strength in him then. I am embarrassed to admit this, but no matter how much I think about it I don't seem to be able to find the answer.

You have no idea how often I have begged him to tell me the reason for the change. He says that it was simply in his nature to change so. I said nothing. Sensei's wife also became silent. Not a sound came from the maid's room. I forgot all about the burglar. The thought that you might secretly think me responsible is unbearable," she said.

Believe you me, Sensei knows. She leveled off the cinders in the brazier and poured more water from a jug into the iron kettle. The kettle stopped singing. His reply was that I had no faults and that it was himself that was to blame. His answer made me very sad. It made me cry and made me want to be told more than ever what my faults were. At first, I thought of Sensei's wife as a woman of understanding. But in the course of our conversation her manner began gradually to change, and I found that she had ceased to appeal to my mind and that she had begun to move my heart.

There was no ill-feeling between her and Sensei. Indeed, there was no reason why there should be. Yet, there was something that separated her from Sensei. But no matter how hard she tried, she could not find what this thing was that separated them. This, in short, was her predicament.

She claimed that since Sensei disliked the world so much, it was inevitable that she should become a part of the object of Sensei's dislike. But she could not convince herself that this was the correct explanation.

The poor lady could not avoid thinking that perhaps the very opposite of this was true: namely, that Sensei had become weary of the world because of her. But again, she could find no way of confirming her suspicion. Sensei's manner towards her was that of a loving husband. He was kind and thoughtful. Such, then, was her secret which she had kept in her heart all these years in gentle sorrow, and which she revealed to me that night.

Please don't hide anything from me. I had no intention of hiding anything from her. But since I knew that there were things in Sensei's life that I did not understand, I could not, in my ignorance, hope to comfort Sensei's wife. I am only repeating what he himself has told me. And you know that Sensei never lies.

If it was indeed the cause, then I was not responsible. There would be at least a little consolation in knowing that much, if l could be sure If I do, Sensei will be very angry. I will tell you only those parts of the story which he would not mind my telling you. Just before this friend was due to graduate, he died. He died suddenly. Then almost in a whisper, she added, "Actually, his death was not natural. At any rate, it was after this friend's death that Sensei began to change gradually.

I don't know why he died. I doubt that Sensei does either. On the other hand, when one remembers that the change came after the death, one wonders if Sensei really doesn't know. But can a man change so because of the death of one friend? I should very much like to know. That is what I want you to tell me.

I tried, as far as I was able, to comfort Sensei's wife. And it seemed that she was trying to find some comfort in my company. We continued to discuss the death of Sensei's friend and the change in Sensei that followed it. However, I knew too little about the matter to be of much help. Sensei's wife did not seem to know very much about it either, and her uneasiness concerning it amounted to little more than a few grave doubts. Moreover, she was not free to tell me all that she knew.

In a sea of uncertainty, then, the comforter and the comforted floated about helplessly. At about ten o'clock we heard Sensei's footsteps approaching the front gate. Seeming to forget all that we had been taking about, Sensei's wife quickly stood up and rushed out to meet him. I was left behind, as though my presence had been completely forgotten. I followed Sensei's wife. The maid, who was probably dozing in her room, failed to appear in the front hall to greet her master. Sensei seemed to be in a rather good mood.

But his wife was in even better spirits. I remembered the tears in her eyes and the anxiety in her face, and I could not but notice the quick change in her mood. I did not really doubt her sincerity. But had I been so inclined, I might with some justification have thought that she had been playing on my sympathy during our conversation, as is the way with some women.

I was not in a critical frame of mind, however, and I was, if anything, rather relieved to see her so cheerful. There had been no need, I thought to myself, for such concern on my part. Sensei grinned at me and said, "Thank you for your trouble. So the burglar didn't come after all? She seemed not to be apologizing for having taken up so much of a busy student's time, but rather to be apologizing, in a joking fashion, for the fact that the burglar did not appear. She then gave me the rest of the cakes, wrapped in a piece of paper, to take home.

I put them in my pocket and went out into the cold night. I hurried along the winding and almost deserted alleys towards the busier streets. I have written in great detail of the happenings of that evening because now, I see their significance. But that evening, by the time I had left Sensei's house with the cakes in my pocket, I attached little importance to the conversation I had with Sensei's wife. After lectures the following day, I went back to my lodgings, as usual, for lunch.

On my desk was the package that Sensei' s wife had given me. I opened it and, choosing a cake covered with chocolate, I began to eat it. I thought of the couple that had given it to me and decided that they must surely be happy with each other. Autumn passed uneventfully. I began to take my clothes to Sensei's wife to be mended, and it was then too that I began to be more careful in my dress.

She was even kind enough to say that being childless, she welcomed such work as a means of occupying her time. But it's awfully difficult to sew. I have already broken two needles on it. That winter, I was obliged to go home. A letter had come from my mother, saying that my father's illness had taken a turn for the worse, and that though there was no immediate danger, I should come home if possible.

As the letter reminded me, my father was, after all, an old man. My father had been suffering from kidney trouble for some time. As is often the case with people who are past middle age, my father's disease was chronic. But he and the rest of the family had believed that with good care, the disease could be held in check, and my father had often boasted to his visitors that only through careful living had he managed to survive so far. His condition, however, was worse than we had imagined.

According to my mother's letter, he had fainted while pottering about in the garden. At first, it was believed that he had suffered a mild stroke, but the doctor, who later examined him, decided that the fainting fit had been brought on by his kidney disease.

The winter vacation was not far off and, thinking that there was no need for me to return immediately, I decided to stay on till the end of term. A day or two after the arrival of my mother's letter, however, I began to worry.

I thought of my father lying in bed, and of my mother worrying, and I decided that I should return at once. I did not have enough money with me for the train fare and, in order to avoid the inconvenience of having to write home for it and wait for its arrival, I decided to go to Sensei for a loan.

I wanted, in any case, to pay him a farewell visit. Sensei was suffering from a cold. As he did not wish to come out into the sitting room, I was asked to see him in his study. Soft sunlight, such as we had rarely seen that winter, filled the study. Into this sunny room, Sensei had brought a large brazier. A metal basin, filled with water, had been placed on it so that the steam rising from it might ease Sensei's breathing. I am sure you will feel the same way about it as I do, Sensei, when you yourself have been really ill.

As a matter of fact, my feeling is that if I must be ill, then I should like to be mortally ill. I did not pay much attention to Sensei's words. I brought out my mother's letter, and I asked him for a loan.

Sensei called his wife and asked her to bring the money. She returned and, politely placing the money on a sheet of white paper, said, "You must be worried. Does he suffer from nausea? My father was not as ill as I had expected. When I returned, I found him sitting up in bed.

I'm really well enough to get up. But it did not seem to me that he was putting up a brave front for my sake. My elder brother worked in distant Kyushu, and therefore could not visit my parents, unless he felt that there was a pressing need for him to do so. My elder sister was married, and lived in another province. She also could not easily come home. I, being a student, was therefore the only one of the three children that my parents could call home freely. My father was nevertheless very pleased that I should have returned so soon after receiving my mother's letter, without waiting for the end of term.

Your mother writes too many letters. I shall be all right so long as I look after myself as I always have done. Indeed, my father seemed well enough. He wandered about the house with no sign of strain whatsoever. He looked very pale, it is true, but since this was not a new symptom, we paid little attention to it.

I wrote to Sensei, thanking him for the loan. I said that I would be returning to Tokyo in January and that, if he did not mind, I would wait till then to repay him. I told him that my father was better than I had expected, that there seemed little cause for immediate anxiety, and that he had suffered neither fainting fits nor nausea. I concluded the letter with a polite inquiry about his cold, which I was inclined to regard as a matter of little concern. I wrote the letter with no expectation of receiving a reply from Sensei.

After I had posted it, I told my parents about him. And as I did so, I found myself thinking of Sensei in his study. I was rather surprised when a letter from Sensei arrived. I was even more surprised when I read it, for it seemed to have been written for no particular purpose. Sensei had kindly written, I decided, in reply to my letter.

That he should have troubled to do so made me very happy. In case I have unwittingly given the impression that there was much correspondence between Sensei and myself, I should like to say here that in all the time I knew Sensei, I received from him only two pieces of correspondence that might strictly be called "letters.

My father, not being allowed to be very active, hardly ever left the house after he got up. Once, on a rather sunny day, he stepped out into the garden. I was worried, and kept close to his side. And when I tried to persuade him to lean on my shoulder, he laughed, and would not listen to me. To help my father forget his boredom, I often played chess with him.

We were both by nature very lazy. We would sit on the floor with a footwarmer between us, and a large quilt. We would then place the chessboard between us on the frame of the footwarmer. After every move, we would put our hands back under the quilt, determined not to sacrifice comfort for the sake of the game. Sometimes, we would lose a pawn or two and not discover the loss until we were ready to start another game.

It amused us all when once my mother found the lost pieces among the cinders in the footwarmer, and had to retrieve them with a pair of tongs. The trouble with go [note3] is that the board is too high--and it has legs too--and we couldn't very well put it between us on the foot warmer and play on it How about another game of chess? Whether he won or lost, my father always wanted to play another game. It seemed that he would never tire of playing chess.

At first, I was willing enough to play with him. It was a novel experience for me to while away the time thus, as if I were an old man in retirement. But as the days went by, I began to weary of this inactive life. I was too full of youthful vigor to be contented with the role of playmate for my father. At times, in the middle of a game, I would find myself yawning heavily. I thought of Tokyo. And it seemed that with each heartbeat, the yearning within me for action increased.

In a strange way, I felt as if Sensei was by my side, encouraging me to get up and go. I compared my father with Sensei. Both were self-effacing men. Indeed, they were both so self-effacing that as far as the rest of the world was concerned, they might as well have been dead. They were, from the point of view of the public, complete nonentities. But while my chess-loving father failed even to entertain me, Sensei, whose acquaintance I had never sought for amusement's sake, gave me far greater intellectual satisfaction as a companion.

Perhaps I should not have used the word "intellectual," for it has a cold and impersonal sound. I should perhaps have said "spiritual" instead. Indeed, it would not have seemed to me then an exaggeration to say that Sensei's strength had entered my body, and that his very life was flowing in my veins.

And when I discovered that such were my true feelings towards these two men, I was shocked. For was I not of my father's flesh? At about the time that I began to feel restless at home, my father and mother also began to tire of me. The novelty of having me was wearing off. This kind of situation is probably experienced by most people who return home after a long absence. For the first week or so there is a great deal of fuss, but, when the initial excitement is over, one begins to lose one's popularity.

My stay at home had passed the initial stage. Moreover, each time I returned, I brought back with me a little more of Tokyo. This, my father and mother neither liked nor understood. As someone in days gone by might have put it, it was like introducing the smell of a Christian into the home of a Confucianist. I tried, of course, to hide whatever changes Tokyo might have wrought in me. But Tokyo had become a part of me, and my parents could not but notice that I had changed.

I ceased to enjoy being at home. I wanted to hurry back to Tokyo. Fortunately, my father's condition did not seem to grow worse. To reassure ourselves, we had an eminent doctor, who lived some distance from us, come and examine my father carefully. The doctor was as well satisfied as we were.

I decided to leave a few days before the end of the winter vacation. Human nature being the perverse thing that it is, my parents opposed my decision. When I returned to Tokyo, I discovered that all the New Year decorations had already been taken down. I detected little of the New Year spirit as I walked about the cold, windy streets. Soon after my arrival, I visited Sensei to return the money I had borrowed.

I also took with me the dried mushrooms. I thought it might seem odd to produce the mushrooms without some explanation, so, as I put them down in front of Sensei's wife, I carefully explained that my mother had wished me to present them to her and Sensei.

The mushrooms had been put in a new cake-box. Sensei's wife thanked me politely, and picked up the box as she rose to go to the next room. She was probably surprised by its lightness, for she said to me: "What kind of cake is this? But he must be careful and not forget that he is a sick man. An officer I used to know died of it quite suddenly in his sleep.

His wife, who was sleeping next to him, had no time to do anything for him. He woke her up once during the night, saying that he was not feeling well. The next morning, he was dead. The unfortunate thing was that his wife had been under the impression that he had gone back to sleep. One can't say that it won't happen, can one? But he says also that there is no need to worry for a while. Show all files. Uploaded by Kosmos on November 28, Search icon An illustration of a magnifying glass.

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