The words "after I'm gone" were linked in my mind to another occasion. On the evening of the day of my graduation, prior to my departure from Tōkyō, Sensei had used these words repeatedly in conversation with his wife. I remembered the light grin on Sensei's face, and I remembered his wife's refusal to engage, warning that he was inviting misfortune. On that occasion, "after I'm gone" had been purely hypothetical. As I heard it now, it was imminently real. I couldn't brush it aside as Sensei's wife had done. All the same, I did what I could to take my father's mind off the matter.
"Don't let yourself get down. Didn't you say that as soon as you're better you'll go see Tōkyō? And that you'll take Mother too? You'll be amazed at how much it's changed. There are new rail lines everywhere. Once a line comes through, the city transforms itself. Urban renewal programs are underway as well. In the course of a day, you won't see Tōkyō at rest for even a moment."
I may have felt compelled to say too much, but Father, for his part, listened appreciatively.
With an invalid in the house, a natural succession of visitors appeared. Nearby kinfolk would stop by in turn, one every day or two. There were also distant relatives whom we saw only rarely.
"We were wondering how he is. He seems all right. His speech is coherent, and his face is hardly gaunt."
With such remarks they would make their way back home. Our house, which upon my return had been quiet to a fault, grew livelier by the day with this traffic.
Father lay still in the center of it all, his condition slowly deteriorating. I consulted with my mother and uncle and finally wired my brother and sister. My brother replied that he'd come at once. My sister's husband also confirmed an immediate departure. My sister's previous pregnancy had ended in miscarriage, and her husband had informed us already that he thought to take no chances this time. We expected he might come alone in her place.