When I returned home, I shared this with Okusan and her daughter. Okusan laughed. Then, however, she looked at me and asked if I hadn't been annoyed. This, I thought to myself at the time, is how women sound out men for their feelings. Okusan's eyes held a look that confirmed as much. I perhaps should have told her candidly, then and there, exactly what my feelings were. There was a lingering lump of suspicion, though, that I couldn't shake off. I started to speak and then stopped myself. I proceeded instead to deflect the conversation onto a tangent.
I extracted my all-important self from the picture, probing for Okusan's thoughts on her daughter's marriage. Okusan did not hide the fact that there'd been several suitors. She explained, though, that she felt no need to rush things. After all, her daughter was still young and still in school. While she never stated it, she seemed to place great faith in her daughter's beauty. When the time came, she told me, she could certainly find a match. At the same time, she only had one child, and she was loathe to give her away. She seemed undecided between marrying off her daughter or taking in a son-in-law.
I felt I'd learned much from this exchange. In doing so, however, I'd effectively squandered an opportunity. I couldn't slip in a single word more on my own behalf. I sought a suitable stopping point to break off and retire to my room.