Seeing me buy only books, Okusan suggested I should have some clothes made as well. All I owned, in fact, were my country-woven cottons. Students in those days did not wear silk. A friend of mine was from a family of merchants or whatnot in Yokohama who lived the lavish life. On one occasion, he received a fine silk vest by courier. We all made sport at the sight of it. He became self-conscious and tried to defend it, but in the end he tossed this vest, procured at some expense, into the bottom of his trunk. A bunch of us then pressured him into putting it on. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the vest had attracted lice. My friend, playing this in his own favor, wadded up the offending article and tossed it into a large ditch in Nezu while out walking. I was with him on his walk and watched this all from the top of the bridge with amusement. Nowhere within me was the least tinge of regret at the wastefulness of his act.
I'd matured a good deal since that time. However, I was still not so discerning as to feel the need for visiting attire. Until much later, when I'd finished my studies and was sporting a mustache, I retained the eccentric view that clothes weren't worth my worry. I replied to Okusan that books were a necessity and clothing was not. Okusan knew how many books I was buying. She asked if I'd read them all. Among my purchases were dictionaries, and there were also some books that I'd intended to look at but whose pages had never been cracked. I struggled for an answer. It occurred to me then that since I was buying things I didn't need, clothes were no worse than books. I also wanted, on the pretext of return for kindness received, to buy the daughter something nice - an obi or a length of fabric that would be to her liking. I entrusted all this to Okusan.