I moved in right away. I rented the room that the widow and I had talked about during my initial visit. It was the best room in the house. This was at a time when they were building upscale boarding houses in the Hongō area, so I was familiar with the finest of rooms that could be had by a student. This room I now presided over was better by far. For a while after moving, I thought it too much for a student such as myself.
It was an eight-mat room. Next to the alcove was a rack of staggered shelves, and opposite the veranda was a large closet. There were no windows, but the veranda was south-facing and received ample sun.
On move-in day, I found in the alcove an arrangement of flowers with a koto propped next to them. Neither of these were to my liking. Having grown up with a father who fancied poetry, calligraphy, and the art of tea, my tastes from a young age were tuned to Chinese tradition. Likely due to this same influence, I'd grown to disdain frivolous adornments.
My father's curios collection had largely been laid to waste by my uncle. However, some small number of articles remained. Before leaving home, I'd had my old middle school friend take them into his charge. From the collection, I'd then chosen the several scrolls that I liked best and brought them with me, packing them loosely in the bottom of my baggage. As soon as I moved in, I'd planned to hang these in the alcove where I could appreciate them. On seeing the flowers and koto, though, I suddenly lost my resolve. When I later learned that the flowers had been placed there on my behalf, I smiled a bitter smile to myself. The koto had always been kept there. There was no other place for it, so there it had to remain.
As you read this, no doubt the notion of a young lady will be playing in your mind. My curiosity on this matter, even before I'd moved in, had already been aroused. Perhaps the anticipation of her had worked to unsettle me, or perhaps it was a general discomfort with strangers, but my greeting on our initial encounter was far from composed. The young lady too, for her part, blushed.