I wrote to Sensei to thank him for the loan. I told him I would repay him in person after my return to Tōkyō in the new year, and I asked for his patience until that time. I followed with news from home - father's condition was not as serious as I'd feared; at this rate we could rest assured for a while; there were no further spells of vertigo and no signs of nausea. In closing, I added my wishes for Sensei's recovery from his cold, which I knew to be nothing severe.
I posted my letter, with no expectation of receiving a reply. After I sent it, I talked with my mother and father of Sensei. As we talked, I pictured in my mind his distant study.
"When you return to Tōkyō, you should take him some mushrooms."
"I could, but I wonder if he eats dried mushrooms."
"They're nothing special, but I've never known anyone to dislike them."
Somehow Sensei and dried mushrooms struck me as incongruous.
I was caught by surprise when a letter arrived from Sensei. I was especially surprised to find that it contained nothing of particular importance. Sensei had written me solely out of kindness. Looking at it in this light, this single short letter warmed my heart, even more so since it was the first letter Sensei wrote me.
In stating that this was my first letter from Sensei, I don't mean to imply that we were frequent correspondents. Quite to the contrary, in fact, I received only two letters from Sensei during his lifetime. The first was this brief reply that I've just mentioned. The second was a lengthy piece that he wrote to me shortly before his death.
My father, due to the nature of his illness, was limited in his activities. Even after getting out of bed, he seldom ventured outdoors. On one afternoon, when the weather was unseasonably mild, he did go down to the garden. I stayed at his side the entire time, on the off chance that something should happen. I asked him to keep his hand on my shoulder, but he countered with a grin that he could manage just fine.