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Sinnesspiel ([personal profile] sinnesspiel) wrote2015-07-27 10:13 am

Shiki Novel Translations 3.13.1

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The phone rang as Seishin returned to the temple office after finishing performing the Buddhist services. Having a premonition of what that phone call would convey, he decided not to answer it. Mitsuo picked it up and after a bit of back and forth came to Seishin with the phone in hand. 
"It seems like the young madame of the Ozaki's has died."

Is that so, was all Seishin replied with. 

"I'd caught wind of rumors that she wasn't doing well but to think it was that bad," Mitsuo said to nobody in particular, continuing on. "Gohei-san has just done two families, so it seems that the Tamo's Sadaichi-san will fill in for us. He will be coming over directly to meet with you."

"Understood."

Just as Mitsuo said, Sadaichi had hurried directly over, putting together all of the arrangements for the funeral. This was in spite of just having had a funeral for his own household the day before.

The vigil would be tonight, the burial the next day, and given Toshio's tastes it didn't need to be a big funeral service, it was decided. 

"After all, things what they are, you guys at the temple are short handed too, so we'll handle it internally and you guys don't have to go to any special trouble, he said," Ikebe said seeming grateful for Toshio's consideration. "To be honest, he really saved us. Even if he did tell us to make it big, we don't have Sumi-san anymore and Tsurumi-san is apparently sick too now."

Seishin nodded. When he found the time he had tried calling Sumi's home and asking how he was. He supposed he'd be told that Sumi had died but contrary to his expectations he was only told that Sumi wasn't there. Sumi had suddenly said he wanted to go on a trip, and that he left without any written notice. He thought that it was likely to be a trip he wouldn't return from, but Seishin couldn't exactly state that to them. 

At any rate, since he had contacted Sumi's household, he had asked whether Sumi's father or older brother could assist as officiating monks. The rather flippant way the word "Again?" came out again made him aware of how isolated the village was from the outside world. In the village the word "again" had already become forbidden. With the two from Sumi's place and Ikebe, with Seishin altogether the temple had four people. The temple was short handed but indeed if the family involved were the Ozakis; no matter how much they were told to keep it simple they couldn't have fewer people than that attending. 

"It feels like it's been a long time coming," Tamo Sadaichi sighed. "Really, I get the feeling that there are fewer families that haven't had a funeral."

Saying that he looked fleetingly to Seishin. It was a look that seemed to be imploring him about something, but Seishin could not answer the unspoken question. 


The one who conveyed news of her death to Ritsuko was Hashiguchi Yasuyo. 

"The Young Madame? She's passed away now."

Ritsuko couldn't find her words. Yesterday she had been told that her condition was grave enough that they were closed for the day so she had been prepared. Even so, hearing that she had in fact died weighed on her heart. 

"Tonight's the vigil, tomorrow's the funeral. Today and tomorrow it seems like the hospital will be closed."

"Yes...... Of course."

Ritsuko picked out her clothing and left the house. She had to go to help. But indeed thinking of what to say to Toshio weighed heavily on her mind. Maybe he had felt guilty about overlooking the initial symptoms, for he had been providing constant care to her. But what good as it? Looking back on it, despite providing more vigilant care than to any other patient, it ultimately meant that even Toshio couldn't do anything against this disease.

(......Disease?)

That thought secretly seized her heart. Was this really a mere epidemic? She had a feeling she already knew the answer to that but she didn't want to accept that, no matter what. 

Traveling the quite familiar road, the hospital came into view. When she reached the hospital, she went through the side gate to the entryway of the main household. How many years had it been since she had come here? Things were already being set up in the entryway for the funeral. 

Ritsuko was a bit surprised to see Tamo Sadaichi amongst the gathered people, seeming to be directing them. The Tamo's place had just had a funeral the night before. 

(But...... Tokujiro-san isn't here anymore, so......)

Monzen's mourning crew caretaker was on the death register. She had thought that Takemura Gouhei would fill in as the next in line for caretaker but old man Gouhei who was not used to the task had already just managed two in a row recently. Perhaps they had no choice but to have Sadaichi fill in. She wasn't aware of the sigh that she leaked out. She couldn't avoid thinking of this as a sign of how dire the distress of the village was. 

Giving her greetings to the gathered people she went into the entryway. Mutou and Yasuyo were already In the spacious entryway hall. When asked where Toshio was, Yasuyo shook her head. 

"He's asleep."

"He's.... sleeping?"

Yasuyo smiled faintly. "He must be utterly exhausted. You should have seen how terrible he looked when I first came and saw him. So I'd told him to please sleep, myself" Yasuoyo said before lowering her voice. "It might not be the most appropriate time for it, but at last there are no pressing medical exams or patients whose conditions need to be watched over for the time being. That almost never happens, you know, so if he doesn't rest now, then..."

"That's true."

"Now the head Madame, she's in the tatami room."

Ritsuko nodded and headed towards the tatami room. Ozaki Takae was already in place beside the altar, holding herself back. Ritsuko had said conciliatory words, but Takae was disinterested in them. Rather, she was clearly in a foul mood. 

"I am sure this must be a very hard time for you..."

Takae brushed off Ritsuko's cliched lines with a sigh. "If only she had at least left behind a child. I don't know what is going through the heads of today's youth, but she was so caught up in herself that it was as if she just didn't have time for children."

"Haa......"

"And Toshio too, there was no need for him to go to such lengths, but he's soft on people, that boy. And when we were bound to be so busy with the vigil and the funeral, I certainly hope he isn't on the verge of collapse himself, but."

Troubled as to how to respond, Ritsuko gave a vague nod. Giving only the stock lines of mourning, she quickly retreated towards the entryway. Having imagined about how the exchange must have went, Mutou gave her a wry smile and told her that Yasuyo had gone to the kitchen, and so Ritsuko headed to the dining room. Yasuyo was wearing an apron she had taken from the kitchen and making preparations for tea. 

"Good work enduring it," Yasuyo said with a wry smile. "---Well, there is no doubt about it that the doctor's condition is more worrisome right now."

"That's true." As Ritsuko gathered up an apron herself, she showed a vague smile. "It looks like the funeral is being kept as simple as possible. Though with that said, since it is the Ozakis, the temple can't take it easy even so."

"That's why the madame's in such a foul mood, isn't it?" Kiyomi joined in with a small voice, tinged with a laugh. Kiyomi was making a dour face. Looking at that face, Ritsuko had thought that she was imitating Takae but it seemed that was not the reason that Kiyomi was making such a sullen expression. "Yasuyo-chan, Ricchan, don't bother in here."

Eh, Ritsuko said tilting her head.

"Because they're having the the neighborhood female helpers tend to the kitchen. They said that they wanted us to do other preparations," Kiyomi said, sitting down in the dining room. "Sadaichi-san was begged.  Please have the neighbors tend to that part. They said they didn't want the nurses to have any hand in the cooking."

"That's...... not a problem, but why?"

"The epidemic," Kiyomi murmured quietly. "There are rumors of a terrible disease spreading around. The neighbors are saying things like wondering if we should be touching things that people will be putting in their mouths."

Ritsuko was at a loss for words. Yasuyo too could only say "My," and nothing more. 

Indeed, though, Ritsuko thought. The nurses were on the very front lines against any "terrible disease." If this were an ordinary epidemic, there would be a chance of direct infection, and there would be the possibility that the nurses themselves were already carriers. It wasn't as if she couldn't understand the uneasiness they must have held. 

As they all sat in a well kept silence, Satoko arrived. Yasuyo called out to her while taking off her apron. "Thanks for working today. ---How'd it go? Did Yuki-chan call back?"

No, Satoko said with a dark expression. Yuki was still missing, with all details still unknown. 

"I tried calling her family too, but she hasn't contacted them either."

"I see...... That's worrisome, isn't it?"

Yasuyo let out a deep sigh. Ritsuko too secretly let out a breath. Really---sighing was all they could do. Telling Satoko about the situation, they didn't bother with the kitchen and went again towards the entryway. While avoiding the unpleasant stares of the people gathered there, they were directed by a very apologetic Tamo Sadaichi towards the reception parlor. 

"I'm very sorry about this. If you could, handle the account books and the office work."

Yasuyo nodded. Sadaichi sighed. 

"......Really though, just what is going on in this village? We just had a funeral last night at my place, didn't we? With all this, we're being hit hard all over again."

"Oh my, Sadaichi-san, your family too?"

That's right, Sadaichi said with a sad smile. "Though it isn't like I don't understand caution about the houses who've had a death. The Maruyasus and the contractors said the same thing. Especially with the contractors having one after another, the head clerk Takeda from there said that there were families that gave him dirty looks just for coming and going through there."

Yasuyo breathed a sigh. "There's no hope for this world, is there?"

"......... Not that avoiding anybody would do any good against this, though." Sadaichi said off to himself. When Ritsuko and the others tilted their heads, he must have realized the words that had slipped out; he gave an uncomfortable, awkward smile. 

"No, I just mean, when you get old you start to think strangely, to misunderstand some things. So as it is, I get to thinking like that. Thinking, is this really an epidemic, things like that. It feels like it's something more---like it's something else."

"Something else?"

"What that something else is supposed to be, now that I don't know," Sadaichi laughed off. He said he didn't know, but Sadaichi seemed like he had something specific on his mind. 

And Ritsuko had that same thought in mind. Somebody who looked like Yasumori Nao. The memory itself had worn away to seem more like a dream but it had still stuck with her. 

As they collectively sighed, Takae's voice rang out.

"My, all of you, what do you think you are doing, taking it easy in here?" Takae peered into the open doorway into the parlor room, scowling. "If the lot of you can't take the initiative, that will be quite the problem. The neighbors wouldn't know their way around our kitchen. Yasuyo-san, go and direct them, why don't you!"

Well, that's, Yasuyo said looking to Sadaichi. Sadaichi tried to explain the situation to Takae. Takae interrupted him.

"As for the office work, isn't that what Mutou-san is for? That is his specialty, so please leave that to him. Yasuyo-san, I will have you go to the kitchen. I won't have the women of the neighborhood tampering in the kitchen as they please. And in the first place, if the lot of you don't do the brunt of the work, do you know how that will look to the outside? You aren't guests here after all!"

"But we aren't exactly servants either." It was Satoko who spoke. Takae narrowed her eyes at that. 

"It seems you are forgetting who pays your salaries."

"Indeed, I do receive a salary from the doctor. But that is payment for my services as a nurse at the hospital, I'm not some servant of the Ozaki family."

"Sato-chan," Kiyomi quietly rebuked. She could see Takae's expression shift. 

"Really, Toshio is too easy on people! Taking such precious care of rebellious nurses like these. If I were the master of the house, I would see to it that you resign immediately, myself."

"I wouldn't mind so much. There are plenty of hospitals in need of nurses."

"What's this? The mouth on you! We've taken care of you up until today. If that is how you feel, then quit and go off to wherever else you like, why don't you?"

"I may just do that," Satoko carelessly thew back. "......Yuuki-chan went missing, and the doctor isn't even worried. If that's how it is, then I am starting to feel like I don't care anymore either."

"Sato-chan," Kiyomi again scolded. Satoko looked up to Kiyomi, tears brimming. 

"But we don't know where she went? It's been this long and she hasn't called, isn't it obvious that something's happened? An accident, or something worse. But the doctor just said 'Is that right?' and never even asked what came of it!"

Kiyomi wordlessly placed a hand on Satoko's back. 

"That's, I know, I understand that the doctor is troubled with what happened with the young madame. She is his wife, I'm sure 
that he was worried, that he had a lot on his mind? But Yuuki-chan has been working here through all of this too. Things looked hard on the doctor, so she said let's move here, she gave up her days off and kept coming in, and yet he... ---And still, he...!"

Ritsuko rubbed Satoko's back as she covered her face and sobbed. She understood Satoko's worries, she understood them painfully well.

Takae gave Ritsuko and the others who comforted her a grim glower. "Did you think for even an instant that the wife of the director and a nurse would be treated with the same level of importance? But then again, you do seem to be a child who can't understand the order of such things."

Saying that, Takae turned back. Sadaichi looked with bewilderment between where Takae had been and where the sobbing Satoko were. 
 

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