On one occasion Sensei and I drank saké together. Sensei's wife joined to serve us. Sensei seemed in unusually good spirits. "You have one too," he said, draining his cup and handing it to his wife. She received it reluctantly, and not without some protest. Knitting her fair brows, she lifted the cup, after I'd filled it halfway for her, and put it to her lips. The following exchange then occurred between husband and wife.
"What's the occasion? You never ask me to drink."
"Only because you don't like to drink. But you should try it sometimes. It's good for the soul."
"I'm afraid it only torments mine. You seem quite jovial, though, from a little saké."
"Sometimes it does the trick, but I can't say that's always the case."
"How about tonight?"
"Tonight I'm feeling fine."
"You should drink a little each night."
"No, that won't do."
"Why not try it, if it works to cheer you?"
In Sensei's household were only the couple themselves and a maidservant. It was always quiet when I called. Never once did I hear the sound of laughter. It often felt like Sensei and I were the only ones there.
"It would be nice to have children." Sensei's wife turned to me as she said this. I politely echoed her thought, but deep down I felt nothing of the sort. Having no family of my own yet, I regarded children as an annoyance.
"Shall we take one in?" Sensei asked her.
"Adoption? Oh, I don't know." She turned my way again.
"We'll never have one of our own," Sensei replied.
His wife was silent. "Why is that?" I asked in turn.
"Divine retribution," Sensei said, and laughed aloud.