Chapter 12:

March 17: Traditions

One Month to Figure out my Future

Can I just say that I’m tired of taking exams? Today it was particularly tough, I can’t wait to get home and lay down as a dead body.Bookmark here

The bell announcing the end of classes had just rung and I was looking at the ceiling while sitting on my chair as if it was a deckchair.Bookmark here

A girl got close to me and peeked over to see if I was awake. I had already seen her, she was of Megumi’s “friends”.Bookmark here

“May I help you?”Bookmark here

“Oh yes, Megumi would like to see you in the student’s council room.”Bookmark here

“What does she want?”Bookmark here

“I don’t really know.”Bookmark here

“Oh maaan, I just want to go home.”Bookmark here

The girl wasn’t moving at all, maybe she was really a robot controlled wirelessly by Megumi.Bookmark here

“What are you waiting for?”Bookmark here

“For you.”Bookmark here

“And why is that?”Bookmark here

“Do you know where the student’s council room is?”Bookmark here

“No…”Bookmark here

“That’s why I’m waiting for you, so that I can bring you there.”Bookmark here

Hayato who was packing his bag jumped in the conversation: “Seems like all the girls want to stay close to you.”Bookmark here

I should have expected this from him…Bookmark here

“All for the wrong reasons…”Bookmark here

“You can’t have always everything in life, Satoshi.”Bookmark here

“I guess…”Bookmark here

“I’ll be off then, good luck with Miss. President.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, thank you, I’ll need lots of it.”Bookmark here

Once Hayato was out of the class, the girl said to me: “Shall we go?”Bookmark here

“Yes, if I really need to…”Bookmark here

As she was guiding me to Megumi I asked: “So how did you meet Megumi?”Bookmark here

“We are childhood friends, our families have known each other for quite some time.”Bookmark here

“I understand.”Bookmark here

“If you haven’t figured it out, I’m the vice president of the student’s council.”Bookmark here

Giving the fact that until a couple days ago I didn’t even know who the president was, you can imagine that I certainly didn’t know the vice president either.Bookmark here

“Well, of course…”Bookmark here

She didn’t seem really convinced but at least the conversation didn’t go any further. In the meantime I was discovering new parts of the school I didn’t know existed.Bookmark here

“Ok we are here.”Bookmark here

On the door we were standing in front of, there was a sign: “Student’s Council President Office.”Bookmark here

The word “Office” made it sound really fancy, I bet Megumi was the one putting on that sign.Bookmark here

The vice president, whose name was still unknown to me, opened the door: “She is waiting.”Bookmark here

“Aren’t you coming in too?”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

That was starting to sound a bit scary, I wanted to get the hell out of there so badly, but I was also too lazy to start running away.Bookmark here

I entered the room and Megumi was sitting at a big desk.Bookmark here

“You finally got here!”Bookmark here

Those were her first words, always really polite…Bookmark here

“Good Afternoon to you too Miss. President, what you want from me?”Bookmark here

“Are you free for next couple of hours?”Bookmark here

I had a flashback to two weeks ago when Rihoko asked me that same thing. Back then I hesitated but this time I was fully prepared.Bookmark here

“No, sorry, goodbye,”Bookmark here

“Hold it!”Bookmark here

I already turned my back when she stopped me.Bookmark here

“I knew you would lie to me.”Bookmark here

I turned back again.Bookmark here

“What makes you think I'm lying?”Bookmark here

“Before, I had a little chat with your sister, she is very cute and kind by the way, and she told me you don’t do anything in the afternoons now that there are no club activities.”Bookmark here

Why does Miyo always open her mouth when she is not supposed to!Bookmark here

“Now you are starting to go after my family too?”Bookmark here

“It’s not like I did something wrong.”Bookmark here

“Well, it would be nice if you stopped harassing me, Rihoko and my sister. Anyways I have to study so I have to go home.”Bookmark here

“Wait…”Bookmark here

Her voice sounded just like the day before when I put her in a tight spot.Bookmark here

“I promise it won’t take long, just hear me out.”Bookmark here

I sighed, and nodded a little to let her know that I was willing to listen to her.Bookmark here

“I would like to invite you at my place. I want to talk a bit.”Bookmark here

“Why can’t we do this here?”Bookmark here

“There are things you should take a look at.”Bookmark here

“Will I be kidnapped or poisoned in some way?”Bookmark here

“Do you think I would say yes if I were to do something like that?”Bookmark here

Fair enough…Bookmark here

“Alright but let’s try to make it quick.”Bookmark here

“Sure, I’ll get ready.”Bookmark here

I was going to a girl’s house for the second time, but this time I actually feared for my life.Bookmark here

It didn’t take too long to get to our destination, Megumi house was, how can I put it, weird.Bookmark here

It was really traditional, but what really surprised me, is the fact that it was completely out of place. It was surrounded by modern houses and it really popped. There was a big gate that got opened automatically after Megumi rang the bell. I guess they were modern in some way…Bookmark here

The house was surrounded by wooden verandas. Stepping in felt like going back in time.Bookmark here

While we were taking off our shoes, a maid came to welcome us. A freaking maid!! She had a maid, that’s so cool. Her outfit was amazing.Bookmark here

“Welcome home Miss. Takano, I see you brought a guest today. Welcome to the Takano’s Residence young boy.”Bookmark here

“Hi, Sakura.”Bookmark here

Even her name was so cute.Bookmark here

“Good Afternoon, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”Bookmark here

I tried to sound as formal and polite as possible, you never know with these people…Bookmark here

“What a sweet boy, shall I make some tea for you two?”Bookmark here

“Yes, good idea. Bring it in my room.”Bookmark here

After that, Sakura left us and I followed Megumi to her room. The flooring throughout the entire house was made out of tatami. The faint smell of tatami is a distinct characteristic of traditional Japanese rooms.Bookmark here

Megumi slid the door open and ordered me to wait outside of the room.Bookmark here

“Wait here, I need to get changed.”Bookmark here

“Ok…”Bookmark here

While I was waiting outside, Sakura came back with a tea tray. She entered the room and stayed inside a weirdly long amount of time.Bookmark here

After a couple of minutes Sakura came out and told me: “Miss. Takano is ready, you can come in.”Bookmark here

When I got in, and Sakura closed the sliding door behind me, I noticed that Megumi was wearing a kimono. It really felt excessively formal, but now I understand why it took Sakura so much to come out, she was helping her to get dressed.Bookmark here

“Well, you didn’t need to get all dressed up…”Bookmark here

“Do you know what this is?”Bookmark here

“A kimono?”Bookmark here

“Sure it’s a kimono but do you know which type?”Bookmark here

I didn’t even know there were different types…Bookmark here

“No…”Bookmark here

“Have a seat. It’s a furisode, a formal kimono usually worn by young women until they get married. At least that’s what they used to do many years ago.”Bookmark here

I started to drink a bit of the tea Sakura brought before. As you know I’m not really a tea fan, but that one, it was really good. Anyway, what did Megumi want to tell me buy explaining me all that stuff about her kimono? Does she want to marry her?Bookmark here

“I see… So you wear it when you have guests?”Bookmark here

“No, I wear it all the time.”Bookmark here

What? It must take some serious commitment to wear it every day.Bookmark here

“So, you like wearing kimonos?”Bookmark here

“I hate it. I hate the smell of tatami. I hate sleeping on the floor. I hate all of this.”Bookmark here

Her face was very serious, she wasn’t joking. She seemed really mad and I think my last question made her even angrier.Bookmark here

“So why you do it?”Bookmark here

Of course I could have figured out that it was her family who wanted her to do that, but I just preferred to play the part of the dumb one for now.Bookmark here

“It’s my family. They expect me to embrace all these traditions and pass them to my children one day.”Bookmark here

“Why you wanted to show me all of this?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know, yesterday you were able to read through me. I was scared but also curios. You wonder why I’m annoying and obsessed with power? This is the reason, I’m generally never happy, and to earn some respect in my family, I need to be heartless. Sure it’s easy to point the finger at my family for all my actions, but I think now I’m really embracing their way of living.”Bookmark here

I wasn’t expecting such a confession from her.Bookmark here

“But this is not the spirit of Japanese traditions.”Bookmark here

“You go tell it to my parents.”Bookmark here

They must be pretty out of their minds to impose her all this nonsense.Bookmark here

“I mean… I’m sorry for what you have to live with.”Bookmark here

“No need to be sorry, I’m the one here who needs to apologize. I know I caused a lot of trouble to the literary club, I’ll try not to interfere with your work anymore.”Bookmark here

Do I have to get my ears checked? She is apologizing? To me??? I almost choked while sipping my tea.Bookmark here

“I… I accept your apology, I think we can forget about what happened and move on.”Bookmark here

“Fine by me.”Bookmark here

To be honest, I was still feeling uncomfortable and wanted to get out of there really quick. I certainly didn’t want to meet any of her parents. So I chugged the remaining of my tea.Bookmark here

“It was good talking with you, but now I really have to go.”Bookmark here

“I understand, Sakura will escort you to the door. A couple of meters away from here, there is a calligraphy shop if you want to check it out. It’s run by my family. If you go there and say it’s me who sends you, they will write your name and frame it for free.”Bookmark here

“Oh cool, I’ll have a look then, thanks. See you at school.”Bookmark here

Once out of that creepy house, I decided to actually look for the calligraphy shop. I’m sure she would have found out if I didn’t go there.Bookmark here

It didn’t take me too long to find it, there was a big sign saying: “Takano’s Calligraphy Shop”. I got in; it was really small and there was an old man on the other side of the counter.Bookmark here

“Welcome young boy, what brings you in?”Bookmark here

He seemed kind of friendly.Bookmark here

“I was curious to see the shop, Megumi told me about it.”Bookmark here

“Oh you are a friend of my granddaughter! Please make yourself at home.”Bookmark here

So he was her grandfather, I wonder from which side, mum or dad?Bookmark here

“Thanks.”Bookmark here

“Would you like a little demonstration of what traditional calligraphy is?”Bookmark here

I was getting a bit sick after hearing the word “traditional” all those times.Bookmark here

“Sure.”Bookmark here

“Tell me, what’s your name?”Bookmark here

“Satoshi, with the single kanji for smart.”Bookmark here

“What a great name, I’m sure your parents expect a lot from you.”Bookmark here

He was right about that.Bookmark here

The old man took a brush, some ink and a piece of paper and went to town. In a couple of seconds he was able to produce a wonderful piece of art just by writing down my name. He framed it and gave it to me.Bookmark here

“This is yours, hope you like it.”Bookmark here

“Thanks a lot, it’s beautiful. How much?”Bookmark here

“Don’t be silly, it’s just a piece of paper, you don’t owe me anything.”Bookmark here

That was really nice of him, maybe he wasn’t that strict like Megumi’s parents.Bookmark here

“Thank you very much Sir.”Bookmark here

“No problem, do you know what does Megumi’s name mean?”Bookmark here

“I think it uses the kangi for blessing.”Bookmark here

“Exactly, she is the blessing of our family. Unfortunately she always looks so sad. I’m happy she found some new friends.”Bookmark here

I didn’t really know what to reply so I just said: “I understand.”Bookmark here

“You are a good young boy, I can see that. Take care.”Bookmark here

He was just too kind, I guess there was still some good in Megumi’s family.Bookmark here

“Thank you again Sir. I have to go now. I’ll probably come back again.”Bookmark here

“Sure, whenever you want.”Bookmark here

I got out. I was really planning to come back to that little shop. I wanted to get also Rihoko’s and Miyo’s names done. One for Rihoko because she is always so kind to me, and one for Miyo because as soon as she will see mine, she will request me to get one also for her.Bookmark here

Real Aire
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