I'd once remarked to Sensei's wife how meticulous he was. She'd pointed out that he was not so meticulous when it came to his attire.
Sensei, who was listening nearby, had added with a grin, "To tell the truth, I'm psychologically meticulous. That's why I always suffer so. It really is an absurd condition."
It was unclear to me what he meant by "psychologically meticulous." Did he just mean that he was fussy in the common sense, or did he mean that he was morally unrelenting? His wife, too, seemed unsure of his meaning.
That evening, I sat opposite Sensei with the signature white tablecloth before us. Sensei's wife sat between us, one on either side, with a direct view of the garden.
"Congratulations." Sensei raise his cup of saké in my honor. I felt little sense of joy at this gesture. One reason, of course, was that there was little joy in my heart for this word to unleash. At the same time, Sensei's manner of speaking instilled none either. There was nothing in his voice that lifted my spirits. He smiled as he raised his cup, and while there was no trace of ill temper or irony in his smile, there was also no sign of sincere happiness. His smile merely conveyed the fact that in this situation, this is what people are wont to do.
"It's splendid," Sensei's wife said to me, "your mother and father must be quite proud."
I suddenly thought of my father and his illness. I thought that I should go to him soon and present my diploma.
"Where does Sensei keep his diploma?" I asked.
"Where did we put it? -- Do we still have it somewhere?" Sensei asked his wife.
"Yes, I believe we've saved it somewhere."
Neither seemed to know where it was.