One to two sub chapters per week will be the pace I'll be working on for now. Realized I can only dedicate roughly 1 hour, or less, during weekdays to do translations.
Edit: Added in the image which I had forgotten.
"Parents must allow their children to walk on their own, while children must learn to be separated from their parents. In the same vein, a younger sister must learn to live without her elder brother."
That's Nikaido-kaichou's plan put in simple terms.
"To conclude, the root of the problem is the fact that you are together with your sister for the full twenty-four hours a day. That can't be helped if both of you are at home, but you guys are together in school as well, right? Not only at the students council, but even during lesson breaks and lunch. Needless to say, you siblings are together when you are going back home as well. It's kind of lucky that both of you are not in the same class, but that doesn't really change things."
Kaichou's analysis had no room for disagreement.
She was totally spot on. I am together with my sister for the whole day, from morning till night.
After we were reunited, we siblings have been living together as though we were of one body and soul. The only times when we weren't together are during things like going to the bathroom or showering.
"I can understand your feelings, seeing that you two have reunited only after six years. However, don't you want to try a little harder on this?"
The conversation had changed to whether I can try to reduce the amount of time that I spend with my sister.
After some discussions, the suggestion "after school, Akito shall visit the homes of the student council members" had been approved.
As compared to just simply reducing the time spent with my sister, this suggestion doubles as the chance for me to be closer with the students council members, which is great for me - though that is what it seems. It somehow feels like Kaichou's was hatching up some sort of plans - or rather, the fact that she had some other motives were a little too obvious.
Then again, instead of questioning the effectiveness of the plan, this should be considered an emergency measure - that was what I had thought.
Though I had said that, I don't really have a reason to object it strongly. Moreover, Kaichou had said things like "it's better than doing nothing" and "I'll come up with a more solid plan during this period of time". Not to mention, it was originally my intention to pay an official visit to Ginbe's house as well.
If so, I should use this chance to visit the houses of the other students council members as well - as such, the plan had been approved.
Due to these reasons, I am standing outside my friend's house right now. However.
"............ What a wreck."
I had accidentally let out my overly honest thought.
The hostel which I am living at with my sister is not much better. But the place in which my friend from Kyoto is living at had easily surpassed that of ours.
How long has this thing been existing for?
A shabby two-story wooden apartment, with its roof slanted the walls filled with holes. It will take a lot of effort to find a place that has no insect cavities. Forget about the winds, this place will probably collapse with a mere puff of air.
Ginbe...... I know you are tight on cash, but don't you think this is just pushing it?
"Hi. You are here, Akito."
I turned my head upon hearing that voice.My friend was already standing at the entrance waiting for me without me knowing. All my attention had been focused onto this apartment, resulting in me not noticing that.
"...... Gin. Yet again, you have gotten for yourself quite an impressive place."
"No no no Akito, it may not look like it, but this is actually a bargain. The exterior is just as it looks, but the frame of the house is surprisingly sturdy. It is slightly old, but the inside is not as bad as how the exterior looks. The most important thing is, the rent suits me just fine. You can't find another place that comes with a toilet/bathroom at such a price."
"No, even so...... Well, it must have been a real bargain if you say so."
"Well, it's no good for us to be talking outside, so come on in."
I see, it was indeed as my friend had said.
Upon stepping past the entrance, it feels more like an old temple instead of a shabby old apartment.
The black floor that had been polished till it's bright.
Even though the sunlight was not that great, there was not much dampness either. The air felt slightly cooling.
It is similar to our apartment in that aspect. I should put it this way - it is shabby, but it is not dirty. I see, she must have been lucky to get this apartment. It must have been constructed by a really skillful artisan; lots of high quality wood was used for its construction.
"We are here. It's this room."
We walked up the creaking stairs and opened the first door we saw. It's a simple room that is roughly four tatami-size big.
A slightly old and round short-table.
A similarly old Japanese-styled wardrobe.
Those are the only furniture in the room. Just like before, the room of my friend was extremely bare and empty.
"Your house is still the same as before, huh?"
"Well, simplicity is best. Take a seat. I had bought some tea in preparation for your visit."
As I accepted her offer and sat down on the cushion, Ginbe began to brew the tea rather skillfully.
Her sole interest is reading, but she is somehow really skilled at brewing tea.
"Here. Please drink it while it is hot."
"Oh, thanks. Here I go."
I took a sipped of the thick tea. Despite not using high-quality tea leaves, the tea which Ginbe brews are always delicious.
"Mmmmm. It's really good."
"Is that so? That's great."
A huge smile.
A huge smile.
Ginbe was smiling rather contently as she watched me holding onto my teacup. That was quite rare of her, since it was normal for her to smile cynically.
"You're feeling really great huh."
"Of course. I've been waiting for so long, and you are finally here."
"Ah-...... You see, I have been busy with all sorts of things. I am really sorry."
"Forget it. Hiding from me the fact that you are moving here and not inviting me over after you had shifted - all these are things of the past. Compared to the past or the future, the present in which we are together like this is much more important. I'll not dwell much on your disloyalty."
"That really helps...... Ah, can I have another cup of tea?"
"Mmm. As much as you like."
Sawatari Ginbe Haruomi.
My precious friend.
I had met her not too long after the separation with my sister. It goes back to our elementary school days.
If I am not wrong, Ginbe hasn't changed much since the first time we met.
Back then, her honest way of speech was just like how it is now. Even her mocking smile, which had left a deep impression on me, was the same as before.
From her body size, it seems like she is growing rather slowly. There's the impression that time around her had stopped.
There's only one thing I can say for certain in regards to 'the point where she is different from when we first met'.
She is currently sitting with a feminine posture. Just that.
"That's right...... I had a huge shock when I first come to know this."
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, it's about the time when we first met. I was really shocked when I knew you are a girl."
Ginbe's expressions became gloomy,
"You do know that my family has all sorts of weird rules. Like how I have to live a poor life or how I was given the name 'Ginbe Haruomi', which is something not fitting of the modern era - plus I was raised as a boy when I was young."
"Mhmm, I did hear you saying that before. But still, I was really shocked back then. I had no doubt that you were a boy."
"I wasn't deliberately trying to hide it from you. I apologize if you are unhappy about it."
"No no, I am not. I just suddenly recalled on how shocked I was back then."
"Well...... thinking about it now, I guess the reason things are going wrong right now is because of how I had left you with the wrong impression since we met. This is just like realizing I had buttoned up the shirt wrongly only towards at the end, but the mistake happened at the very first button."
"Hmm? What are you saying?"
"Nothing, just some stuff about myself."
She took a sip of tea and ended the topic just like that.
But this person here.
She is in a good mood, but ever since we entered the room, it feels like she could not settle herself down.
She was constantly looking around nervously and correcting the posture of her seiza. She seemed restless.
"Are you meeting someone later?"
"Meeting someone? No, I do not have plans with anybody else other than you."
"Or how about you are about to be late for your work - there is nothing of that sort?"
"I am currently barred from earning my own cash. That's the rule of the Sawatari family. Akito do know this, right?"
"Ah-...... perhaps you need to visit the bathroom very urgently?"
"No way. You are really rude."
My friend pouted her lips,
"What are you trying to say? You had been asking all sorts of weird questions for a while."
"Ah- no. It's just that you are behaving a little strangely. Yeah...... it's as if you are really nervous."
I can guarantee on how oblivious my respectable friend can be. To be truthful, I had seen plenty of those sort of scenes ever since we had been friends.
She is the sort of person who can speak as though she is giving a speech even though she is at the Carnegie Hall that is packed with people. Her unique mocking smile seldom changes as well, as if it is normal for her to be teasing me all the time.
"I am just slightly curious. It is normal for me to be thinking that you have something on, no?"
I asked her seriously, but then.
Ginbe's huge eyes blinked. She then let out a sigh.
"Akito, you really have no idea why?"
"Eh? Ah, mmm, I don't understand. Eh? Is it that strange? It's normal for people not to understand, right?"
She shook her head weakly,
"Use your common sense and think for a moment...... A girl has invited a guy to her room, and she is currently alone with that guy...... No, I do know you have never seen me as a woman...... But even so, I am still holding some expectations......"
"Hmm? What? I can't quite catch you."
"You an irritating idiot. It doesn't matter if you did not hear that properly."
She twisted her head to the side with a "hmmph",
"It just felt awfully silly for me to be nervous about this. I will never be nervous due to Akito ever again."
"Eh? Why? What's with your sudden anger?"
"Shut up, how irritating. There is a saying that goes, 'to play the lute to the cow'. But it is a waste to play a single note to a stupid cow like you. You should just have an auditory hallucination about some sort of new and upcoming religion till the day you die."
For some strange reason, Ginbe was looking down on me.
There will be times when she is like that.
When she mutters to herself something that I could not hear, then became angry all of the sudden.
But forget it.
That is nothing compared to the the years of our friendship as well as the grace that I had gotten from her.
Also, I have prepared with my ultimate attack.
"Ah- right, right. I had nearly forgotten."
I clapped my hands in a rather deliberate manner,
"Ginbe, I have a present for you."
With that said, I took something from my bag and placed it on the table.
Upon seeing the small box with the handles, her eyes shone, but just for a moment.
Ginbe immediately stared at me,
"Akito. You are a really despicable person."
"Ahaha, don't say that."
There's cake inside the box. The thing which my good friend loves the most, having a sweet tooth.
"I've long planned to take this to your house for a visit. It's true."
"Hmmph, really...... ah!?"
Ginbe opened the box with a snort, but her eyes shone once again when she saw the contents.
"Uwa, this is Mont Blanc, isn't it!? You remembered my favorite?"
I do treat her to some food occasionally, and thanks to that I remember her preferences in tastes. I mean, we do know each other for so long, despite my incompetence.
"You like it?"
"There is no one on this planet who hates Mont Blanc."
"That's great. Savor it slowly."
"Hmph...... I do know this is your attempt to win me over. But having received such a gift from you, I have no choice but to forgive you."
"That will be great."
Though my friend's stare was still slightly sharp. I'll take the opportunity to change the topic.
"I say, Ginbe."
"I did talk about this earlier on, but how's your financial status right now? Can you still handle it after moving to here?"
"No, I am still a little short on money."
She closed the cover of the cake box and shrugged,
"The rent of this apartment is almost the same to my previous one. Luckily for me, they did not request for any deposit or intermediary fees. So the only cash I spent on are the cost of moving the furniture over. As you can see, I possess only the bare minimum when it comes to the furniture, so that is not too costly as well. But......"
"Well, there are a lot of other places to spend on. I know that much, since I had just moved as well."
"Mhmm. Transferring schools is especially costly. A huge amount of my savings are spent on the uniforms and the textbooks. This is quite painful for someone as poor as me."
I talked about that a while ago.
Ginbe's family is a merchant family for generations. The Sawatari family has a huge influence behind the scenes in the financial world.
Their education policies are rather unique. The children of the Sawatari family, are made to live a life of poverty since young, so that they can 'see for themselves the value of money personally'.
This rule is implemented very thoroughly - if they are to overspend, there will not be any extra cash given to them. Not only that, they are banned from working as well. If they spent all their money, they will have to live the rest of their days without a single cent on their body.
It's said that this is for them to 'learn how to manage their cash under the constraints'. Though if you ask me, I am not too sure of how effective these policies are.
But that's just me. The Sawatari family are holding on to this tradition rather stubbornly, so Ginbe had to go along with it as well.
Said Ginbe as she flashed her mocking smile once more.
"My financial situation is as tough as usual. For now, I have barely enough of food to eat. I cannot spend too much if I wish to live healthily."
"What about you, Akito?"
"It's roughly the same for me as well. It's still a little tight. My income is not really stable, so I can only buy you Mont Blanc as my apology. I had originally wanted to buy a whole cake for you."
"What about your work?"
I stuttered when she asked me that.
"Well...... I'll love to say things are going smoothly, but I can't. I am even wondering if my employer is satisfied with my work."
"Can you still carry on?"
"I guess so. It's not to the stage where I am close to getting fired, so I can still continue my work. Honestly speaking, the income is currently...... yeah, it doesn't look like my income will increase at the moment. Considering what may happen in the future, I do need to have a decent amount of savings.There is not much left after subtracting away my savings."
Ginbe crossed her arms,
"Needless to say, I was the one who introduced you to the place to look for work You're lucky that I have quite a few contacts."
"That was really all thanks to you."
"Even so, all I did was to link you to 'someone who can find you a job'. I have no idea what job you are doing in order to get your daily allowance. And it seems like you have no intention of telling me."
"Ahaha...... I am obliged to keep it a secret - it will be a great if you can think of it that way."
"It's fine. I am from a business family, so I have no intention of pressing on any further. Since I am the one who provides you the opportunity for your work, I am just interested in how well you are doing."
Indeed, it's just as she said. As part of the Sawatari family, Ginbe is awfully strict when it comes to trust.
"If you had done anything that embarrasses me...... You do understand, right?"
I could almost hear her saying the true meaning behind that line.
Whatever. That's really how it is.
Even so, Ginbe has always been very tolerant towards me regardless of what happens. I really cannot hold up my head in front of her.
"It's okay. Don't you worry, Ginbe. I am clear about those things as well. Frankly speaking, I am not doing an excellent job...... but even so, I have probably produced results which my employer is satisfied with. There is not a single chance for anyone to be complaining to you. And even if there is, I'll take the responsibility for it."
"...... Well, it's great you understand. Also, it's not like I don't trust Akito or anything. It's just that considering my stand, I'll have to give you some sort of preventive injection."
"Mmm. I understand."
To be honest, I am currently quite distressed about my job.
I have no time to be enjoying myself with my friend like this...... but my sister is involved in all this. The troubles that I had given to my employer are within acceptable limits.
"Are you fine over at your side? Ginbe."
"You're referring to?"
"Your life. It's rather tough, isn't it?"
"I can still manage. You don't have to worry."
"That won't do. Ultimately, your reason for moving over to here is because of me. As such, I am the culprit of your worsening financial situation."
"I did nothing like that. Don't put it to heart, really."
"How can I do that? I owe Ginbe a lot, and I have never repaid my debts."
"It's just me doing my own things. They are not matters which Akito has to worry about...... It's just me having my own motives."
"Eh? What did you say?"
"Nothing. Why do you always have to interrupt me when I am mumbling to myself?"
"It can't be helped even if you say that, since I did hear something."
"Forget it. In any case."
Ginbe said rather forcefully,
"I am not at the point where you have to worry about me. In fact, I never thought of you'll worry about me. Even in my current situation, I still think I am much more capable than you when it comes to living alone. And in actual fact, I have lived by myself for quite a while already."
"Ahh. You're right."
"It's okay. I'll not hesitate to seek Akito's help when I really need it - in fact, that scenario may actually happen in the near future."
"That's how it is huh. Mmm, that's fine."
"I'll not allow you to say no, okay? You had owed me quite a lot, and you have treated me as a 'good friend', right? I'll be waiting for it."
"Ah, mmm, of course...... Also, why does it sound really awkward when you are saying the words 'good friend'?"
"It's nothing. Just stop asking."
"Is that so? It totally doesn't sound like that."
"Ah how irritating. I said no, so that's fine, alright? Let's set that aside for a moment and share this cake together."
"Can I? I bought that for you to enjoy by yourself."
"I do like cakes, but that is only when there's someone whom I can share the taste with. Do you want to turn the experience into something tasteless and uninteresting, when I should be enjoying my cake instead? Accompany me in eating it."
Ginbe and me ate the cake leisurely while harmoniously talking about all sorts of random things and reminiscing the past.
I managed to repay her kindness a little, and it seems like there will be more opportunity for me to do so in the future.
I had spent a rather satisfying day...... I guess? Yeah.