When it was time to eat, Sensei's wife sent the maidservant, who'd been seated at her side, off to the next room and proceeded to serve us herself. This, it seemed, was standard practice at Sensei's house with casual guests. I'd been uncomfortable with it at first, but now, after a number of occasions, I'd grown fully accustomed to being served in such manner.
"More tea? More rice? You're quite an eater." Sensei's wife had never been shy in commenting on my eating habits.
This day, however, on account of the heat, my appetite failed to impress.
"Done already? You've become such a light eater lately."
"I haven't become a light eater. It's just this hot weather."
After calling back the maidservant to clear the table, she next had ice cream and desert fruits served.
"We prepared this ourselves."
Sensei's wife, who was not so busy with household chores, had the time to make ice cream for her guests. I asked for seconds.
"Now that you've graduated, what do you plan to do next?" Sensei asked. Sensei had shifted his seat halfway onto the veranda and was leaning his back against the open shōji.
I'd been focused on graduation, but given no thought to what was next. Seeing my hesitation, Sensei's wife asked if I might take a teaching position. When I still didn't answer, she suggested the civil service. Sensei and I both laughed.
"To tell the truth, I have no idea. I've hardly given a thought to taking an occupation. I'm not sure how one choses. With no experience to draw on, it's hard to know what one should do."
"That may be true. However, it's your family's wealth that affords you such leisure. Look at those who are pinched. I would doubt they're as unconcerned as yourself."