There was some truth to what my brother said. When the locals called to wish my father well, he always insisted on receiving them. In the course of their exchange, he never failed to bemoan the fact that he hadn't been able to fête my graduation. He sometimes added that he'd set things right as soon as he recovered.
"You're lucky your graduation party was canceled. Mine was an awful affair," my brother reminded me.
Remembering the drunken disorder of that day, I forced a smile. I could still picture the scene, with Father shamelessly pushing endless food and drink on the guests.
As brothers go, my brother and I weren't very close. We'd often quarreled growing up, and I, as the younger one, had always ended up on the losing end. Our differences in character led to divergent academic interests. During my university days, and especially after making Sensei's acquaintance, I thought of my brother from afar as much more a brute than a gentleman. I hadn't seen him in a long time, and he was living in remote quarters. Both time and space precluded any sense of connection. Even so, when we finally came together now, the natural bonds of brotherhood still held firm. The current situation accentuated these bonds and drew them tighter. At the bedside of our father, a man on the verge of death, we joined hands in common cause.
"What will you do next?" my brother asked me.
I responded with a very different question.
"How much wealth do we have?"
"I can't say. Father's never told me. Apart from property, though, I don't think there's much."
Then there was Mother, who continued to fret over Sensei's response.
"Still no letter yet?" she would press me.