The Thirteenth Night
Ordinarily, Oseki rode in a handsome black rickshaw, and, when her parents heard the
sound of it approaching their gate, they would run out to greet her.
Tonight, however, she had
hired a rickshaw on the street corner.
She paid the driver, sent him away, and stood dejectedly at
the door to her parents’ house.
Inside, she could hear her father talking in the same loud voice as always.
say I’m one of the lucky ones.
We have good children. Never a speck of trouble when they were
People are always praising them.
And we’ve never wanted for a thing, have we?
Don’t think I’m not thankful.”
He would be talking to her mother, then.
It gave Oseki pause.
How was she going to
broach the question of divorce when they were so happy, so unaware of things?
What a sermon
there would be!
She was a mother herself, and it wasn’t easy leaving little Tarou behind.
a bit late now to be bringing her parents such startling news.
The last thing she wanted was to
destroy their happiness, as if it were so many bubbles on a stream.
For a moment, she felt the
urge to go back without saying anything.
She could go on just as before—mother to Tarou, wife
to Isamu—and her parents could go on boasting of a son-in-law with an imperial appointment.
So long as she was careful, nothing would have to change.
The little gifts of food they liked, the
spending money now and then, all the filial courtesies would continue.
But if she had her way
and went through with the divorce, it would be the end of everything.
Tarou would be miserable
with a stepmother.
In a single instant, her parents would lose the only reason they had to hold
their heads high.
There was no telling what people would think of her.
And her brother’s future
—any basis for his success in life—would be swept away by her selfishness and caprice.
go back home to her husband.
He was inhuman, and she
trembled at the thought of him and reeled against the lattice at the gate.
Inside the house they heard a noise.
“Who’s there?” her father called out.
at the wrong house, I suppose.”
But the sound outside turned to laughter.
“Papa, it’s me.”
It was a lovely voice.
“Who is it?”
Her father pushed the sliding door.
What are you doing here?
without a rickshaw, or your maid?
Hurry up—come in.
What a surprise!
No, we certainly
weren’t expecting you.
Don’t bother about the door, I’ll get it.
Let’s go into the other room.
can see the moon from there.
Here, use a cushion.
No, no, use a cushion, the mats are dirty.
told the landlord, but he says we have to wait till the matting people get around to making new
Don’t be so polite with us—you’ll get dirty if you don’t take a cushion.
Well, well, it’s
awfully late for you to be visiting.
Is everyone all right?”
Her father treated her with the usual courtesy, and it made Oseki feel uncomfortable.
disliked it when they deferred to her as the wife of someone important.
“Yes, everyone’s fine, in spite of the weather.”