By that time, I was a graduate student. Compared to the days of my early visits with Sensei, I felt myself much more an adult. I had come to know Sensei's wife quite well, and I was fully at ease in her presence. When I saw her, we talked on various subjects. However, our talk was always casual in nature, and I can't recall now what was said. Only one thing remains in my mind. Before relating it, though, there's another matter I should touch upon first.
Sensei was a university graduate. I knew this from the start. What I didn't know was that he had pursued no occupation. I learned this only after returning to Tōkyō. I wondered how he was able to do this, and why he should choose to.
Sensei was completely unknown to the world. I was, I expect, on account of the bond formed between us, the only one to appreciate his scholarship and hold his ideas in esteem. On numerous occasions I lamented this state of affairs. Sensei would merely dismiss my concerns with, "A man like myself has no business preaching to others." I found this reply excessively modest, so much so that it might, I thought, mask some form of contempt. In fact, Sensei would sometimes bring up a former classmate, who was now celebrated in his field, and level a scathing critique. I once took occasion to comment frankly on the contradiction I saw in this. I did it not to provoke him, but rather from frustration that the world should be indifferent toward him. Sensei replied in a subdued voice, "You must understand, there's nothing I can do. I'm a man unfit to answer society's call." There was a certain kind of profound look etched on his face. I didn't know if it was despondence, discontent, or sorrow, but its intensity overwhelmed me. I didn't have the courage to challenge him further.