bonito with this? We’ll be using it for the onigiri.”
I handed him the tool and saw that his eyes were sparkling like a child’s.
“Oh, what’s this? How fascinating!”
It’s just a simple mandoline.
I taught him how to make the dried bonito into shavings.
As for Sara-sama, in accordance with her own wish, I had her do the preparations for the gratin.
“And how about Sara-chan make the bechamel sauce?”
While giving out instructions, I boiled water while also preparing the chicken, cutting them into manageable pieces and seasong them, from somewhere nearby.
Without forgetting to preheat the gas oven, I then disinfected the cutting board with boiling water and started on the next item on the menu.
Since Mari-sama liked western cuisine, we have a gas oven at home.
You’re supposed to adjust the flames according to the temperature shown on the alcohol thermometer on top of the oven, but since it was a tricky task to accomplish, I did the adjusting myself.
The dinner the three of us prepared together was splendidly lacking in harmony.
Onigiri, gratin, fried chicken, pickled vegetables, and deep fried artichoke.
We also had some salad prepared with the vegetables we picked from the little garden in front of the house.
We also gave the driver Suzuki-san a lunchbox filled with onigiri, fried chicken, and pickeld vegetables.
We invited him to join us but he refused so firmly.
I must also learn from this example of a professional’s pride.
“The artichoke tastes so good with just salt!”
“Fufu, I also recommend deep fried cauliflowers.”
“The gratin I made is the best! I did not know that bechamel sauce was actually so easy to make.”
“There’s a lot you can use bechamel sauce for, so it might come in handy sometime if you know how to make it.”
After finishing dinner, we did the dishes together too.
In a cramped kitchen, Souju-sama did the washing, Sara-sama did the wiping, and I put them back in place.
Even though it was the first time for Souju-sama to do the dishes, he did everything smoothly.
It had occurred to me when watching him cook too, but Souju-sama was really dexterous.
He can probably do just about anything.
I believe he has both a high capacity to learn and also the ability to apply what he had learned.
At last we moved on to the main purpose of the day: the handing over of cassette tape recordings of Mari-sama’s performances.
There was a total of 5 such recordings in the house.
“This, cassette tape? This is my first time seeing one.”
“I knew about them since they were in trend some time ago.
Rei-chan has an overall Shouwa era feel to you, don’t you?”
“Shouwa? Ufufufu, why are you cracking such a joke? Sou-kun.”
In the case that it had not been a joke, everything was Mari-sama and Fuki-san’s fault.
I had at least wanted a television.
Don’t even the Shouwa era people have televisions?
“With this, we have received the cassette tapes.
We’ll restore them and make copies.
You should use the restored ones from now on.
Cassette tapes deteriorate with time so keep the master tapes with care.”
“Yes, thank you.
Please relay my gratitude to Youko-sama as well.”
Although seemingly reluctant to, the two of them departed home.
I stood at the doorway watching them until their car went out of my sight.
Getting back in the house, I proceeded to get in the bath.
I placed some dried herbs – chamomile and rosemary for today – into a gauze packet and used them to soak in the bath with.
I think of this time as a luxury.
If I close my eyes, even this shabby bathroom can turn into an elegant one.
After getting rid of the day’s fatigue through the bath, I went to the piano.
Today, too, I went through Bach, Czerny, and equal temperament one by one.
Mari-sama told me that I should never neglect the basics.
This routine I have was not something ordered by Mari-sama, but it’s just right for me to get my fingers in nice working condition.
And according to my condition on the day itself, I sometimes practice with arpeggios as the focus, and other times with scales being the main item.
For today, I am practicing the pieces I will be playing in next month’s performance.
I will be receiving payment for this, so there are no rooms for imperfections of any kind.
Speaking of, the pieces requested were all Chopin’s.
For that reason, I have only been playing Chopin and nothing else recently.
“It’s nice to play something else once in a while too, isn’t it?”
I laughed wryly at the me who made excuses though there was no need to earn anyone’s permission.
I played Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque.
I especially liked Passepied as a child; I find the polyrhythm to be fun.
It was also a piece that Fuki-san had often asked me to play.
Little 5-year-old me played while enjoying it so.
Mari-sama watched over me while drinking tea, seated in a chair with the table placed in the living room.
Fuki-san sat smiling on a cushion on the floor next to Mari-sama.
A memory so full of affection.
A line of tears fell.
 Kappougi is a kind of sleeved smock, functioning as an apron does.
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