Chapter 1. Autumn: Autumn in Hot Spring
Morning in Tokyo
The sky was blue. No, it probably just looked blue. In order to make the sky look beautiful as if on a clear day, a color control system was installed in windows of the high-rise condominium in Roppongi. The sky looked clean, without smoke and smog. Tsubasa lived there comfortably. It was neither too hot nor too cold. There were none of the bird droppings and bugs that Tsubasa disliked.
It was the sixth morning since his return from Takafu-cho.Tsubasa had cereal with yogurt for breakfast. Recently, he had been attended matchmaking parties quite often, and had therefore increased his calorie intake. He was trying to keep his other eating and drinking to a minimum. His father had already left home for work and mother had gone out for her morning Tai Chi practice, her daily routine before work. He remembered her saying how relieved she was at no longer having to prepare breakfast since the grandparents had left for their hot spring treatment. When Tsubasa bit half his apple, the telephone rang. It was his grandmother.
"Grandma, this is Tsubasa. Are you enjoying your stay there? Are you coming back tomorrow? What? Can you say it again? You won't? How come? Are you sick?" His grandmother said firmly, "I do not want to come back home. I would like to live here." The morning sun shone softly on the dining table and the rest of the apple made a shape like an objet d'art. For some reason, Tsubasa recalled moments when he and his grandparents had walked around Takafu town holding RUICA. What did his grandparents see and what messages did they leave in their devices?
Tsubasa hung up. His grandmother had kept saying that there were no specific reasons why she wanted to stay in Takafu-cho. She just wanted to live there. Tsubasa thought it best to call his parents right away. His father sounded disappointed and angry when he heard the news. "That place is not a granny dumping spot. I do not know much about it, but I cannot leave them there, although they want to stay. I had planned to play golf this weekend, but I will cancel my game and go there to pick them up. Can you buy a train ticket for me?"
Tsubasa could not miss the delight in his mother's voice when he called her mobile phone and told her the news. But when she returned from Tai Chi, she looked gloomy. "Were they uncomfortable living here with us? I had taken care of them. Our relatives will blame us." Preparing to leave home for work, she seemed worried about what lay ahead.
Tsubasa made a reservation for three train tickets and left home. He remembered how very delighted his grandparents were in the log house. He felt sorry for them because his parents seemed mainly concerned about themselves. He called Ryoko when he arrived at the university. Even though this was a family matter, she might know something about his grandparents' desire to stay.
"This is Ryoko." The quiet but dignified voice reminded Tsubasa of the fresh green of trees in the Village of Wind and Forest. On the noisy campus, Tsubasa felt the wind blowing from the forest.
"Yes, I heard about it. Your grandparents are fine and look happy. I think they want to live here rather than go back to Tokyo. Why don't you come with your parents to see what their lives here are like? It is up to your grandparents to decide whether they stay here or not after discussing the matter with family." Tsubasa was at a loss for words. Ryoko seemed to think it was not bad at all for them to live there. It was true. His grandparents were not dependants of his family; they could afford to live on their pension and the money they had made from selling their house in Kyushu. Since they had been so quiet and submissive since their move to Tokyo, Tsubasa had simply assumed that they would continue to live with him and his parents. They could live as they wanted; however, Tsubasa wondered what would happen if they fell sick. Who would nurse them? In Tokyo, his family was fully prepared to arrange emergency medical treatment for them. Well, maybe they would be happier in a place where there were people like Ryoko.