Main Story 33
I faced the piano.
It’s a YAMAHA C6X.
When I put my fingers upon the keys, a delicate sound was heard.
What a fine piano.
It’s also tuned perfectly.
But my performance will only last for one minute.
How I wish I could play on this piano a little longer.
While thinking this, I unexpectedly got a large round of applause.
Was the public execution a success? Or was it a failure?
I bowed and made to go back to my seat when the music teacher stopped me.
“Kujouin-kun, if you were able to give us such a perfect, no, more than perfect performance, why did you choose to do with such sacrilegious music that time? Why did you defile music so?”
To say that EDM was sacrilegious? That it defiles music? What a thing to say!
“Sensei, while I may be stepping out of line here, I must say that music evolves.
And it will continue to do so.
Renaissance music, romantic era music, classical era music, I love them all.
And just as I love them, I love EDM too.
They are all one music that I hold dear.”
In reality, I do not know much about EDM.
Although I chose to not say anything about that here.
On my way to return to my seat, Yuuki Miu-san called out to me, saying,
“I can’t believe that you just talked back to the teacher like that.”
“I only said what I think.”
Yuuki Miu-san was sitting, and I was standing.
Thinking that it was as if I was looking down on her, I smiled wryly while taking my seat.
When the class had ended and I was making my way back to the classroom, this time it was not only Yuuki Miu-san, but Takanashi-san had also joined in on ganging up on me.
“You should have read the room and played sloppily.
It was Fuki-obaasan who let you learn the piano anyway, wasn’t it?”
“I apologize for not being able to read the room.
But I am always sincere when it comes to music, and I intend to keep it so.
Furthermore, the piano I use was my grandmother’s, and it was also my grandmother who taught me how to play.”
“You worked Takanashi-kun’s precious great-grandmother to death, didn’t you? You’re just like that old witch who bullied my mother.”
“…… Takanashi-sama, I will be sending you the kimono and tea ceremony set that Fuki-san had treasured.
As promised, I will not approach her.”
So speaking, I quickened my pace and left them.
There was no reason for me to stand to listen to Yuuki Miu-san, who had nothing to do with all this, admonish me about Fuki-san like that.
It may have been because of the mother in law’s bullying of her mother, but it was wrong of her to take it out on me and be hostile towards me like that.
Besides, I’m sure her mother had gotten married in spite of all that.
If Yuuki Miu-san had really been thinking of her mother, she should just learn manners so perfect that her step-grandmother could not complain of it.
Although it will take some time, if she had really been thinking for her mother’s sake, she should put in the effort.
I may not have the right to say anything to them, but it angered me.
They know nothing.
They know nothing!
Taking a deep breath, I got my emotions under control.
After homeroom was done, I went back to Hanaoka Town with Sara-sama and Souju-sama to pass the cassette tapes over.
“I can’t wait for Rei-chan’s cooking! I’ll pay for the groceries so get whatever you like.”
“That’s right! There is no need to be shy.”
“Really? There is something I do want.
I have been wanting some fermented dried bonito and rishiri konbu.
They don’t sell these at the nearby supermarket.”
“We had better go to the department store instead then.” (Souju)
And just like that, we went to the department store.
They have fresh food at the underground levels.
I rarely ever get excited but I am now.
Still, everything there was expensive! Way too expensive!
I was on cloud nine, finally getting the fermented dried bonito and konbu I had so longed for.
I wish to provide Sara-sama and Souju-sama with something delicious.
Something from the supermarket would have been good enough if it were just me eating.
I now know that with some effort, you can make those good too.
But there is still no replacing butter and shortening.
I looked at the other ingredients being sold too.
There were plenty of western vegetables there.
From the looks of it, they must have been shipped by air.
Still, what a price.
“Oh, artichoke-san, it has been so long.
We used to make you a la barigoule, but I prefer you breaded and deep fried.”
“Rei-chan, what are you doing talking to vegetables?”
Ah, I’ve done it now.
Let’s pretend to not realize.
“… Right, have you ever eaten deep fried artichoke, Sou-kun?”
I might have had some as garnish.”
“They taste good; soft and flaky.”
“Let’s get some then.
I don’t know which is good so you choose, Rei-chan.”
I examined them carefully and put some in the basket.
After purchasing the required ingredients, we headed over to Hanaoka Town.
On the car ride there, the dinner was all we talked about.
“Hey, let me help with the cooking too.”
“That would be lovely.”
Sara-sama and Souju-sama seemed to be having so much fun that I too, felt the same.
They were both truly wonderful, adorable individuals.
When we arrived home, I handed them both kappougis.
But it was too small for Souju-sama so he ended up helping as is.
“Sou-kun, can you shave the dried 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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