"I was afraid for a moment he'd finally lost it," my brother told me later.
"I was caught off guard too." My sister's husband expressed a similar sentiment.
The newspaper in those days was a lifeline for us in the country. Each day we anticipated its arrival. I would sit at my father's bedside and read it through. When there wasn't time, I'd quietly carry it to my room and scan each article. The image of General Nogi in uniform, with his wife beside him in courtly dress, stuck in my mind for a long while.
The winds of sorrow carried to the farthest corners of the countryside, rustling our sleepy woods and fields. In the midst of this, a telegram from Sensei arrived unexpectedly. In a place like this, where dogs bark at a man in Western dress, the arrival of a telegram was always a big event. My mother, who had been the one to receive it, called me away from the others with an air of due gravity.
"What is it?" She waited at my side while I broke the seal.
It stated simply that Sensei wanted to see me and asked if I could come. I was unsure what this meant.
"It must be about your request for a position," my mother surmised.
I thought she might be right. At the same time, there was also something odd about it. At any rate, I was in no position, having summoned my brother and my sister's husband, to abandon my ill father and head off to Tōkyō. On consulting my mother, I wired back that I couldn't come. I added a few words to the effect that my father's illness was nearing a critical juncture. Unsatisfied to leave it at this, I followed up that same day by posting a detailed letter explaining our circumstances.
My mother, fully convinced it was about my requested position, consoled me with a disappointed look. "I'm afraid it's just come at a bad time. What can we do?"