Chapter 2 – No, This Isn’t About Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah.
Chapter 2: Part 1
Friday, July 7th. Happily, tests had finally ended. I had probably gotten the best test scores I have gotten in my life. I’m pretty confident of that.
I had stopped worrying about the thing that Dai-sensei had told me she would send me. I hadn’t heard any new news about that, and even if I called her I felt I wouldn’t be able to get much more information out of her.
It was fine if I just assumed that she had forgotten all about it, right?
The final day of the term had a beautiful weather, with the skies painted over in grey.
Clouds sure are nice. If they blocked out the sunlight this much, I could even get home by myself. Maybe it would even rain. For the time being, I really didn’t want to see the sun shine down from the heavens.
… Well, as long as it wasn’t tonkotsu rain.
As I looked up at the cloudy sky, I finally arrived back at my house. I wanted to just get inside as quickly as possible, but I was stopped right in my tracks before I could walk into the entranceway.
“What the hell…”
I couldn’t help but react like that. And I didn’t have any intentions to close my gaping mouth. I considered the possibilities that my eyes were tired, or maybe my brain was just tired, and so I rubbed my eyes and took a few deep breaths.
I once again looked up.
However, the strange sight I was looking at did not become any less strange. Reality was honestly even more bizarre than zombies were.
I went into the house and bound up the stairs.
And then, without even a knock, without even a word of warning, I opened the door to Haruna’s room.
“Hey! What the hell?! Don’t barge in so damn suddenly!”
All she was wearing was a camisole and a pair of silk white panties with ribbons on the sides. And caught in such a vulnerable state, Haruna flushed red.
“You damn Eroic Age! (1) Get. The. Hell. Out!!”
I completely ignored Haruna’s furious shouts as she wrapped herself up in one of her bed-sheets. Instead, I yelled right back, and even louder.
“This is your doing, isn’t it?!”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“Where the hell did that thing on the veranda come from?!”
I pointed in the direction of Sera’s room, and finally Haruna seemed to catch on. “Ahh, that.”
“Where… well, it came from the mountains, obviously.”
“Why the hell is it here?!”
“Ah, Ayumu doesn’t know? Man, you’re pretty behind. I learned that today’s Tanabata, you see…” (2)
Tanabata? Oh, I see.
“Come with me!”
I took Haruna’s hand and headed towards Sera’s room. Haruna tried to hide her underwear and resisted, but I pulled with all my strength.
“Wait! Ayumu? Hueh?”
Sera’s room was originally where my parents slept, so you could get to the veranda through that room.
And on the veranda, instead of a pole for drying clothes, there were huge bamboo plants sprouting up.
It was as if we were being invaded by bamboo aliens or something… it honestly wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that.
Was there supposed to be one for each of us or something? Four bamboo plants were tearing through the veranda floor, and sprouting up vertically.
What’s more, they were decorated with lights and in general looked incredibly gaudy for bamboo.
“I get that it’s Tanabata, but clean all this up.”
“Because don’t you think all this is really strange?!”
Her ahoge tilted to one side. As if it were trying to say “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Granted, it’s not like I didn’t sympathize with her desire to decorate for Tanabata. And I can even forgive the lights.
But, I mean, to put a star at the top and to decorate it with puffs of cotton (2)… no matter how you thought about it, she was half a year too early. And when I tried to explain that to her…
“Ayumu just doesn’t know what’s trendy right now.”
Haruna let out an annoying little breath of carbon dioxide and shrugged her shoulders.
“Tanabata… a river of stars flows across the sky, and at that time, a man of legend comes, accompanied by two beasts. He wears clothes dyed red with the blood of his enemies, and carries a huge, man-sized bag. Under the cover of night, he steals into the houses that are decorated by bamboo trees. And then, with his sudden-death move Thunder Cross (4), he grants wishes to just the people who have ponytails… it’s a pretty famous story.”
I see. Haruna seemed to have mixed up Santa Claus with Hikoboshi (5).
“So, why bamboo then?”
“… It’s what he eats, right?”
I see. Santa turned into a panda.
Oh, wait… actually, it’s possible that reindeer actually did eat bamboo.
(1) Reference to Heroic Age. I honestly think this is Haruna’s first reference I didn’t have to look up.
(2) Japanese star festival. Probably best known for the custom of writing wishes on slips of paper and hanging them up on bamboo plants.
(3) Apparently the Japanese decorate their Christmas trees with cotton. Weird.
(4) I really hope this impresses upon you just how terribly Japanese people can mispronounce English words.
(5) The male protagonist in the legend of Tanabata.