"After I'm gone ... After I'm gone... How many times have you said that? For Heaven's sake, please stop already. You're only inviting misfortune. If such time should come, you can rest assured that all will be done according to your wishes. Isn't that enough?"
Sensei turned toward the garden with a grin. However, in deference to his wife he spoke no more on this subject. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I immediately rose from my seat. Sensei and his wife saw me to the entry hall together.
"Take good care of your father," Sensei's wife told me.
"We'll see you in September," Sensei added.
I acknowledged their salutations and stepped out through the latticed door. Between the entryway and the gate stood a single fragrant olive tree. In the darkness, it seemed to be stretching its limbs to block my way. Taking several steps toward it, I surveyed its dark, densely foliated branch ends, and I imagined the flowers and fragrances of the autumn to come. This olive tree and Sensei's house, from my earliest memories of them, were inseparable in my mind. As I stood before the tree, thinking ahead to some day next autumn when I'd next cross Sensei's threshold, the light that had spilled from the entry hall went out. Sensei and his wife, it seemed, had retired to their inner rooms. I went out alone onto the dark street.
I didn't return directly to my lodgings. I needed to buy things for my trip home, and my stomach needed a chance to settle, so I walked toward the lights of the town, where the evening was still young. In the mass of men and women milling about, I ran across a fellow graduate. He pulled me into a bar, determined that I drink with him. Once there, I was subjected to his bluster, which the froth on my beer easily exceeded in substance. I didn't get back to my lodgings till after twelve.