It was after ten when I left Sensei's place. In several days I would return to the country, so before rising I offered parting words.
"I won't see you again for some time."
"Will you be back in September?" Sensei's wife asked.
Now that I'd graduated, there was no particular need for me to return in September. I was sure, though, that I was not going to spend the dog days of August in Tōkyō. Nor was I compelled to come back early to seek a position.
"I suppose around September."
"Well, take care then. We may do some traveling this summer ourselves. It looks to be hot here this year. If we do go, we'll send you a postcard."
"Where did you have in mind?"
Sensei was grinning as he listened to this exchange. "We don't even know yet that we're going."
Sensei suddenly stopped me as I prepared to rise from my seat. "By the way, how is your father's health?" he asked.
There'd been no updates on my father's health. No news, I'd figured, was good news.
"It's a serious condition. Renal failure is the end of the road."
I'd never heard the term "renal failure," and I had no idea what it was. Back home during winter break, when we'd talked with the doctor, he hadn't voiced any such term.
"Do take good care of him," Sensei's wife added, "Once the poison reaches his brain you've lost him. It really is serious."
I had no experience in such things, and I floated an awkward grin to mask my disquietude. "His disease, they tell us, is incurable, so we'll just have to take things as they come."
"As long as you're resigned to what's coming."