Chapter 2.Winter: Gifts
Yukio emptied his cup of chilled sake. "While Takashi struggled in his new environment, he communicated via text messaging with a girl, one of his elementary school classmates. She seemed to be the only person he felt at ease with. I should have left him alone when I found out." Keigo poured more sake into Yukio's cup. The winter sake was full of spicy aroma and had the power to open people's minds.
Yukio continued his story. "My son's performance at school was below average. One night when I came back from Shanghai, I could not stop myself from scolding him for his poor performance. I told him, 'You can not enter a good university with these results. Your father and mother have been working hard for you, but you just waste your time playing around with girls. Why don't you associate with one of the clever girls in your school?" Takashi's face turned pale. "Did you check my mobile phone?"I panicked a little, but I thought it was bad to lie to him so I told the truth. "Yes, I did, because I am worried about you."
"Takashi looked stunned by my words. His parents trusted him so little that his father secretly read his e-mail. He felt hurt and angry that I had violated his privacy. Since then Takashi has closed himself off in his room, and often won't go to school."
A soft snow began to fall. It seemed to absorb all sound outside. There were probably many small hibernating animals under the stillness of the snow. Tsubasa imagined Takashi crouching on the floor in the room, afraid of being hurt.
"Since that night," Yukio continued, "Takashi no longer trusts me. He thinks I am always secretly checking the text messages on his mobile phone or hacking into his PC. Technology can do anything, so there is nothing for him to trust in this world." Tsubasa saw the sweat on Yukio's forehead when he finished talking. He noticed that when Yukio wiped his forehead, he hid the fact that he was also wiping his eyes. Tsubasa watched, but said nothing.
"If I were you, I would have done the same thing." Keigo said.
"I received RUICAs from Kanalu-san as a tool to communicate with Takeshi-kun, but I lacked the courage to talk to him directly, so I had Tsubasa establish communication with him, pretending to be me. This was an act of deception. No wonder Takashi-kun thinks adults are not trustworthy." Keigo was quite depressed. When he downed his chilled sake, Kohei gave him a sharp look of rebuke. "Keigo, your way of drinking is very rude to this wonderful young sake. Taste it with your five senses." All those at the table realized that they had been drinking the sake without proper appreciation for its qualities or gratitude for the labor of those who produced it. They took a moment to raise their cups and share a toast.
Kohei began to talk. "I remember, Keigo, when you were a high school student, you were angry that I entered your room and read your diary." "You have a good memory, Father." "All parents are the same. I read in your diary, about where and what you ate, and the sake you secretly drank. A lot of silly things, I was surprised and relieved at the same time. When you found out, you lost your temper and accused me of infringing on your privacy." "Yes, I did. I was frustrated by your action. You read my secret unhappiness when my girlfriend became cold to me. I ripped out the page from the diary and burned it. That event ruined our relationship," Keigo said.
Tsubasa listened to their idle conversation and realized that their seemingly casual chat told Yukio that history had repeated itself. Parents worried too much about their children and sometimes they violated their privacy. Though meaning well, they interfered with the development of their children's sense of self-reliance. When the children grew up, they might think these incidents were funny, but during their youth, they took it all seriously, and felt great pain.
"Let's wait a while," Kanalu calmly said. "Takashi-kun is a good boy. He may find something while he stays in this town. I think we should wait and believe in him until he finds it by himself." Yukio seemed to have something to say, but he held it back. The snowfall became heavier. Fragile, gentle snowflakes seemed to spring directly from the dark night sky.