Kurumaya no Kuro has gone lame. His coat, once so glossy, has faded and thinned. Those eyes of his, which I'd described as finer than amber, are now tainted by discharge. What strikes me most of all is his loss of vigor and lessened physique. When last I met him in the tea grove, I asked how he was. "Stinking weasels. The fishmonger's pole. Enough is enough," he lamented.
The autumn leaves, their patchwork of crimsons stitched among the pines, have fallen and are now but yesterday's dream. The sasanqua flowers have shed their petals by the basin, reds and whites, one by one, till none remain. Along the length of the south-facing veranda, the winter sun sets early. The cold winter wind rarely subsides, and my naps, of necessity, grow shorter.
The master heads to school each day. On returning, he shuts himself up in his study. When visitors call, be bemoans the lot of a teacher. Only rarely does he paint. Taka-Diastase, he says, is worthless, and he's stopped taking it. The children, to their credit, go faithfully off to kindergarten. Back home, they sing songs, bounce balls, and once in a while swing me up by the tail.
I don't eat lavishly and haven't gained weight. At the same time, I pass my days in good enough health, and I haven't gone lame. I never chase rats. Osan is still my nemesis. They've yet to give me a name, but one mustn't hope for too much. I intend to live out my days, here in this teacher's house, ever a nameless cat.