Sensei's wife was a native of Tōkyō. I'd heard this through Sensei, and I'd also heard it directly from her. "I'm actually a child of mixed blood," she'd told me. She'd said this half jokingly, as her father hailed from the Tottori region, and her mother was born in Ichigaya, back in the time when Tōkyō was still called Edo. Sensei, for his part, was a native of Niigata, an altogether different region. Any knowledge she had of Sensei's student days was clearly not through mutual hometown connections. Having blushed a bit at my question, she seemed reluctant to expound further. I refrained from pressing the matter.
From the time I met Sensei until the the time of his passing, I was exposed to his thoughts and sentiments through discourse on myriad topics. However, I learned very little of the circumstances surrounding his courtship and marriage. At times I credited him for his exercise of discretion. As an older man, he knew to spare a younger listener from amorous reminiscences. At other times, though, I faulted him for it. Sensei, and his wife too for that matter, had both come of age in an earlier time whose social conventions differed from those of today. Their generation, it seemed, was incapable of acknowledging romance. These were both, of course, nothing more than conjecture on my part. Behind both conjectures was my supposition of an impassioned courtship, one that still lent its warmth to the heart of their marriage.
My supposition, to be sure, was not in error. However, the romance I imagined in my head was only half the story. Beneath the beauty of their romance lurked a dreadful misfortune. Completely unbeknownst to his wife, this misfortune was tearing at Sensei's soul. To this day, she still doesn't know. Sensei carried his secret to the grave. Rather than destroy his wife's happiness, he chose to destroy himself.