Mother and Father began to talk about inviting guests for a red-rice banquet in my honor. From the day of my return, I'd been secretly dreading such a thing. I immediately begged off.
"Please, you mustn't go to any great lengths."
I hated these country guests. Their purpose in coming, betrayed by their behavior, was solely food and drink, never mind the occasion. Even from my childhood, I'd cringed at the thought of serving them at our table. Far worse this time, they'd be coming on my account. I couldn't tell my parents point blank to dispense with this vulgar horde. All I could do was insist that they shouldn't put themselves out.
"But we're not putting ourselves out. Not in the least. How many times will our son graduate from college? Don't be so modest - it's only natural to celebrate."
My mother took great pride in my graduation. To her, it was no less an occasion than marriage.
"We don't have to invite guests, but if we don't then folks will talk."
This was my father's view. He was concerned what people might say. It was indeed true that, on occasions such as this, unmet expectations would invariably lead to whispers among the neighbors.
"It's not like Tōkyō. Folks around here are set in their ways."
"Your father has his reputation to consider," my mother added.
I could argue my case no further. I decided to let them do as they best saw fit.