In My Six and a Half Tatami Mat House, Lives a Silver-haired, Blue-eyed Junior - Chapter 53
Things To Do During Obon
“Eh? Did you have plans to go somewhere, Minato-san? You don’t have a part-time job today, right?”
“Yeah, I don’t have a part-time job, but I’m going out for a bit. I think I’ll be home in the evening.”
“Could I ask where you’re going?”
“Hmm? I’m going to visit a grave.”
Airi was wondering why Minato was getting ready to go out.
Today was the fifteenth day of the eighth month. It was one of the days during the period known as Obon in the world, and he had planned to take the day off from his part-time job properly, not accidentally.
Minato had decided to visit the grave on the first day of Obon and the anniversary of his father’s death.
He wasn’t bothered by the question, but it wasn’t something he would actively say, so he had kept it to himself until now.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had something so important to do?”
“It’s important to me, but not to you, right? So I didn’t think I needed to tell you.”
“…Are you leaving me out?”
“No, it’s not that. You’re not interested in visiting someone else’s grave, are you?”
He thought it would be awkward to be taken to visit the grave of someone she’d never met, but Airi’s eyes grew stern.
As Minato tilted his head and wondered if he had said anything to make her unhappy, Airi began to prepare to go out.
“What are you doing?”
“Can’t you see? I’m coming with you. I’m going to change my clothes, so please don’t come over here.”
If she told him she was going to change her clothes, he wouldn’t be able to go to the door. He also had no intention of leaving a grumpy Airi alone.
He had no choice but to call out to her through the curtains of the front door while keeping his distance.
“Why are you going too, Airi? You know you don’t have to, right?”
“Because I want to go. Can I not?”
“Not that you can’t, but there’s no need for Airi to co–“
“Shut up. If I say I’m going, I’m going.”
Without listening to Minato’s restraint, Airi crisply said and finished changing.
She returned to the living room and slipped past Minato, who was stunned by the sudden turn of events, to pick up her belongings before heading back to the front door.
“Come on, what are you doing? Let’s go.”
Minato stopped to think about it, thinking that it had become a common pattern lately that no matter what he said to Airi, it would be useless.
It took about 40 minutes to reach the destination after leaving the house. In the sweltering summer sunshine, they arrived at the grave of Minato’s parents.
It had been more than half a year since his last visit last autumn, so weeds were growing around the graves and the headstones were a bit mossy.
As he was getting fed up with how hard it was to clean the grave, he noticed Airi staring at the grave in a daze.
“Airi, what’s wrong?”
“Minato-san, why are there two names on the grave?”
Maybe because she was shaken up, Airi stammered out her question.
Her face was contorted as if she was about to cry, so he stroked her head and told her she didn’t need to worry about it, and her tear-stained ice blue eyes stared at him.
Come to think of it, he had told her about his father, but not about his mother, so due to her gentle nature, she might have been worried about it.
“Oh, I never told you. My mom’s dead too.”
“Why are you apologizing, Airi? You didn’t do anything wrong. Just wait a minute while I clean up.”
He couldn’t just say hello and leave in this state, so he gave Airi a pat on the head to comfort her and then grabbed a cleaning kit from nearby. At that moment, she snatched the cleaning tools from Minato’s hands.
When Minato tilted his head at Airi’s sudden action, in a voice as if saying “I will never give in,” she said,
“I’ll clean it too. Wouldn’t it be better if we both did it?”
“I don’t feel comfortable asking you to do that much, and it’s enough that you came. Besides, you’re going to get your clothes dirty, you know?”
“It’s rather uncomfortable to come all this way and not do anything. Besides, I brought out these clothes in case they got dirty.”
Airi was dressed in a light shirt and jeans she had taken out of her carry-on bag, which seemed rough and easy to move around in.
She had been wearing rather fashionable clothes lately, so plain clothes felt strange on her. That said, he thought she looked strangely good in it. Was it just a weakness of love, or was it simply because Airi was beautiful?
“I know it sounds strange to talk about those clothes now, but I see you have some rough clothes.”
“I never went outside before, so I only had to wear plain clothes.”
“I hate to break it to you, but you look good.”
“…I’m not sure I’m happy about that.”
“Well, I guess that makes sense.”
Perhaps he should have stopped praising the clothes she had chosen because they were easy to move in, without giving any thought to what others would think of them.
They chuckled to each other at the indescribable atmosphere and began cleaning.
Cleaning under the blazing sun in the middle of summer was harder than Minato thought it would be, and when they finally finished, they were both drenched in sweat.
“Thank you for helping me. Honestly, I think it would have been hard for me to do it alone.”
“If so, please just say it directly next time.”
“I’ll try my best.”
Even though Airi was a complete stranger, it made him happy to think that she would be coming along again next time.
The two of them put their hands together at the graveside and closed their eyes. He told Airi that she didn’t have to do it, but she refused to give in, saying, “We cleaned it together, so please let me do it.”
Dad, I’m doing fine.
Minato had nothing in particular to wish for, so he reported his health and immediately opened his eyes. However, Airi’s eyes were still closed and she seemed to be seriously thinking about something.
He wondered if it was possible to think about someone you have never met, but it would be tactless to ask.
After a few moments, Airi opened her eyes.
“Thank you for coming to visit the grave. Really.”
“No, I wanted to give my greetings as well, so thank you very much.”
“Why give your greetings?”
“…Because Minato-san is really Minato-san.”
He didn’t think there was any need for her to give a greeting, and he let out a grand sigh.
There was nothing more to do at the grave, so they quickly headed home.
On the way home, Airi did something she had been doing a lot lately. She grabbed the hem of Minato’s clothes, and asked him timidly.
“Minato-san, I know this might be hard to talk about, but can I ask you something?”
“It’s about Dad, right?”
“Yes, is that okay?”
“It’s fine, but it’s really not that big of a deal. I wonder where to start…”
“Then, what kind of person was he like?”
When Minato was unsure of where to start, she gave him a helping hand.
He opened his mouth, remembering that several years had passed since then.
“He was a quiet man. He didn’t talk about anything other than what was necessary, and we didn’t go out together much. So to be honest, I don’t have many happy memories of my father.”
His father was never a cheerful person who told jokes, and he was not an outdoors type either. That’s why he didn’t have many memories of doing things together.
Perhaps not expecting this, Airi’s eyes widened in surprise as she looked at him.
“But the fact that you came to visit the grave and insisted on using the surname ‘Kujo’ means you have some kind of attachment to him, right?”
“Right, my dad used to tell me, ‘learn to take responsibility for your actions,’ and, ‘be considerate of others.’ I don’t think I could do that right now, but hopefully someday I will.”
“…He sounds like a good person.”
Airi muttered to herself enviously and sadly. Minato wondered if she was comparing his parents to hers. He didn’t think there was any point in comparing the two, so he lightly tapped Airi’s head a few times to distract her.
At first, Airi’s eyes widened in surprise, but then, she smiled softly, as if she could understand his feelings.
“He was a bit of a nag, though. And there were some circumstances that left him no choice but to accept.”
“Circumstances? Is that perhaps about Minato-san’s mother?”
“Yeah, I heard my mom, not stepmother, died right after I was born, so he had to raise me by himself.”
Airi gulped. Minato hadn’t explained the details of his situation there to her, so he might as well do it now.
“I heard that my mother was a weak person. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was pregnant with me, and she had to choose between having me and dying, or not having me and getting treatment. …The result is…well, as you can see.”
To be honest, Minato didn’t know what a mother’s love was like. It was only obvious since she wasn’t there.
That’s why he visited their grave on the Bon Festival and the anniversary of his father’s death. He wasn’t very filial to his parents, but he didn’t feel like coming to thank someone he didn’t even have any memory of meeting.
Now that he thought about it, he realized that maybe it was because he grew up that way that he didn’t get along with his stepmother.
“That’s why I’ve been alone most of my life since I can remember. My dad had to work, so I couldn’t complain. Maybe since he couldn’t take care of me, he tried to at least communicate with words.”
Minato still couldn’t understand everything that his father wanted to tell him, and there was no telling when he would.
Nevertheless, his father’s love was conveyed to him, and except for the problem with his stepmother, he thought he was able to show his parents filial respect in his own way.
“Um, was the reason for his passing due to overwork or something?”
Airi asked fearfully. She must have been concerned about Minato.
Her concern warmed his heart.
“No, he was remarkably healthy. He was the kind of person who almost never got sick. The cause of his death was a simple car accident. It was nothing, just a drunk driver who hit him and he died on the spot.”
When he found out that his father had been in an accident, it was already too late.
He couldn’t remember his last words to him. It was probably just a casual conversation.
He noticed that Airi had fallen silent. When he looked next to him, he could see that her shoulders were shaking, as if she was crying.
“…Thank you, Airi. I’m glad you feel that way.”
“I’m so, rry… Even, though, it must, be, har, der for Mi, nato-san.”
“No, I’ve got it all sorted out. I’m fine.”
He couldn’t see his father or mother anymore, and there was no point in dwelling on it.
Besides, Minato didn’t think his father would like him to be depressed. He tried to remember them at least during the Bon Festival and the anniversary of their deaths, but he had already made his peace with them.
Therefore, there was nothing for Minato to cry about now. It was rewarding enough to have Airi cry for him.
As Minato walked slowly with a squirming Airi, something soft and warm touched his hand.
“We’re together. I’m here with you, so you’re not alone.”
“I’m not alone, huh…”
Minato, who lost his parents and did not get along with his stepmother, and Airi, who was abandoned by her mother and did not get along with her father, were perhaps similar to each other in some way.
Ah, I see. So that’s why Airi’s doll-like expressionless face bothered me.
Minato could see the loneliness hidden behind that expression, which was probably why he was so conscious of it.
In addition, unlike Minato, Airi didn’t have any childhood friends like Kazuma or Momose, and she didn’t get along well with others.
Despite the differences in appearance and circumstances, the things they were dealing with were similar, if not the same.
When it became clear to him why he had been so concerned about Airi from the beginning, the warmth of her hand holding his was once again sinking into his heart.
“Thank you, Airi.”
Once again, he found himself more in love with Airi, who could cry for others and told him he wasn’t alone.
Donation chapter (8/10)
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