I went to town for some black silk. I wrapped the ball on the end of the flag pole, tied a trailing strip just below it, and mounted the pole on the gateway pillar angled out toward the road. Both flag and black strip hung loosely in the still air. The roof over that gateway of our old house was thatched in straw. Wind and rain had buffeted the straw over time and faded its color. It was now tinged an ashen gray and was noticeably uneven in places. From outside the gate, I surveyed the black strip and the white woolen flag with its red-dyed sun circle. I also viewed them against the weathered straw of the gateway roof. I recalled how Sensei had once asked me about the construction of our house, wondering if it differed much from the houses in his own home town. I'd wished I could show him this house where I'd been born. At the same time, I'd felt I might feel shame in doing so.
I went back inside. Returning to the room where my desk was, I read the paper and let my thoughts drift off toward to Tōkyō. I conjured in my mind an image of the great metropolis. I imagined it dark and somber, yet fluid with restless motion. In that city that couldn't stay still, that was steeped in anxiety, I imagined Sensei's house as a fixed point of light. I was yet unaware that this light would be swallowed in a silent maelstrom, that this lamp was confronting its fate and was soon to shine no more.
I took up my pen to update Sensei on recent events. I wrote ten lines and then stopped. I tore up my draft and tossed it into the trash. (There was no point writing such things to Sensei, and there was no reason to think that this time he'd write me back.) I felt forlorn. That was why I wrote. I was holding out hope for an answer.