I kept my father company and helped him pass the time, often in front of the shōgi board. Indulging our indolence, we sunk ourselves into the kotatsu, the game board placed over its frame. After each move, we'd retract our hands to the warmth of the quilting. From time to time we'd lose a captured piece, only discovering its absence when we went to start our next game. I can picture still my mother discovering a piece among the ashes and retrieving it with the fire tongs.
"The go board is too thick, especially with its feet, for play on the kotatsu. This shōgi board is just right. We can play in comfort. Perfect for a couple of idlers. How 'bout another game?"
Father would always call for another game after winning. He would call for one after losing too. In short, whether he won or he lost, he was content to settle into the kotatsu and play shōgi. This retirement-like lifestyle was something novel to me, and for a while I embraced its amusements eagerly. As the days and hours passed, though, the energy of youth made me restless for something more. I'd stretch my arms above my head, gripping a shōgi piece, a gold general or a lance, in my fist. Sometimes I'd even yawn overtly.
I thought about Tōkyō. I listened to the rhythm of my heart as my blood swelled and raced within it. Strangely, in the right state of consciousness, I could feel Sensei lending vigor to the pulse of that rhythm.
Inwardly, I compared my father and Sensei. Both lived quiet lives, the outside world oblivious to their existence. In terms of societal impact, both men registered nil. Be that as it may, I found this father of mine, who sought to engage me in shōgi for the sake of diversion, somehow lacking. Sensei, with whom I'd never shared such pastimes, touched my mind more profoundly than any companion in pleasure-seeking might have. To say he touched my mind is too cerebral. I should rather say he moved my heart. To state that his spirit energized my flesh, or that his life force coursed through my veins, by no means exaggerates my feelings of the time. When I looked about me, the obvious yet inconvenient fact that I was my father's son, while Sensei was a complete stranger, left me unsettled.