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We were learning about China’s history in our World History class. Unfortunately, I already knew a lot about the Warring States period, so I was feeling extremely bored. However, I neither had the interest to draw little comical illustrations in the margins of my neglected notebook, nor did I feel like circulating pleasant notes to my classmates. Besides, I didn’t have any hobbies, which can be said to be as tedious as side jobs, or interests in general. While ignoring the wearisome explanation of the tactic of horizontal and vertical alliances1, in order to pass the time I motionlessly reflected on the good fortune of having nothing to do while craving idleness.
Since Kamiyama High is a high school centered around preparing students for further studies, the pupils here largely have good attitudes towards learning. The old teacher’s clear voice resounded in the classroom where tranquility is preserved. A stiff scraping sound rang out as the chalk hit the blackboard. It was currently the fifth period, so I’ll probably get attacked by the sleep demon soon. It was a clear day in the June rainy season. And thus, my high school life is wasted. I knocked my mechanical pencil. It was not because I wanted to write something, but because the lead would not come out. I hadn’t noticed that the lead was broken. I took out a spare pencil lead from my pencil case, holding it with my thumb and index finger. Instead of inserting it from the back, I tried inserting it from the front, as if I was threading a needle.
However, the peace was suddenly broken.
A dangerous sound rang out. It seemed like the sound of bamboo striking some hard object. Taken by surprise, I cringed. All sleepiness dissipated as the HB lead broke in the middle into two clean pieces. What a waste. Oh well, I guess I can still use them.
It seems that I was not the only one being startled, as commotion filled the classroom. Beside me, a female student said to her friend behind, “What was that? It totally surprised me.” It seems that no one would give up the opportunity to talk.
The sound did not occur only once. It rang out a few times in succession, mixed with some irate words. It was a loud, frightening male voice, but since it was in the classroom, I couldn’t understand what it was saying. At that point, my classmates and I had deduced a large part of what was happening. In the classroom next door, the math teacher, Omichi, had lost his temper yet again.
The teaching profession is commonly referred to as picking up the teacher’s cane, but in this era, I haven’t seen a teacher hold a cane. At best, they had a flexible pointing stick. In the past, I had a teacher called Morishita in the student counseling department who embraced the belief “Even though you are not holding a fencing stick, there is no doubt that you want to hold it if it is allowed.” Speaking of which, Omichi-sensei has a rough bamboo pole shaped like a fencing stick which he carries around and sometimes uses as a teacher’s cane. However, Omichi-sensei, who can be said to be the most veteran teacher in the school, would definitely not use his pole to hit a student. He would only wield it on the teacher’s desk and blackboard in order to coerce students to behave. Omichi-sensei is the honored teacher who has taught me that the blackboard is unexpectedly firm and difficult to damage.
Nevertheless, while I have this impression of Omichi-sensei, I neither dislike nor have disdain for him. I had this kind of teacher in middle school, and even in elementary school. If I had to say what I felt about him, it would be the same feeling I have for the girl that sits next to me. I know their faces, names and personalities, but I don’t really care.
At any rate, I was not impressed by him causing a racket in my class. While I was thinking about that, a clear voice cut into the unstoppable, angry voice. That voice sure rings a bell. When I realized who the voice belonged to, I muttered at the same time without thinking,
That was Chitanda’s voice.
I got to know her through a little fateful incident right after entering this school, and we have been in the same club ever since. Come to think of it, Chitanda was in the adjacent class. I was surprised that there was a student in this school who would argue with Omichi when he had just started hammering on the blackboard, and I never thought that the student would be Chitanda. I strained my ears to confirm that it was indeed her, but in any case it was a voice from across the wall. I couldn’t say for sure, but the intonation also sounded like Chitanda.
I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but her every word was without a doubt sharp and excited. I have heard her voice countless of times, but it’s the first time I’ve heard that tone. It seems that Chitanda also gets angry and raises her voice.
She had probably said whatever she wanted to in one go, for the voice soon died down. Silence had also descended in our classroom for a short while, as if we were collectively holding our breath. On that note, stillness had returned to the classroom next door. Did Chitanda seriously cause Omichi to shut up? The irresponsible atmosphere which made us expect further trouble relaxed in an instant. In any case, since it was now quiet, we had no choice but to be brought back to our history lesson.
I took out another piece of lead for my mechanical pencil. This time, I refilled it quickly from the back, then spun it around my finger.
It was after school. The rays of the early summer sun shone diagonally into the Classics Club room, the Geography Lecture Room.
I held my paperback book open between my fingers, as I noticed Chitanda’s flustered state. As to why she was being so nervous, it was because of the argument between Fukube Satoshi and Mayaka Ibara, who had taken up positions in the middle of the classroom, though it was not actually feasible for the two of them to quarrel. It was actually Ibara unilaterally criticizing Satoshi, and Satoshi avoiding it with some frivolous talk or taking it with a wry smile. Although I have been a witness to the squabble from the beginning, I have no idea what it is actually about. It probably started as a debate about something trivial like whether all telephone poles are tall or whether all postboxes are red.
It was April when Chitanda, Satoshi and I joined the Classics Club, which had no members. In May, Ibara approached Satoshi and asked to join the club.
Ibara has been in the same class as me since first grade, but we didn’t really talk to each other. We finally went to different classes in high school, but now we’re in the same club. Just how closely are we linked by fate? Then again, Ibara is currently engaged in three trades at the same time, as she’s in the Library Committee, the Manga Research Society as well as the Classics Club. Satoshi, who is in the Executive Committee, Handicraft Society and Classics Club should be a good match with her.
The Classics Club was such a quiet, peaceful place when there was only three of us.
Satoshi talks with frightful passion, but if he has nothing he wants of others he would stay quiet. And Chitanda would be really calm, as one would expect, if her usual curiosity does not explode.
It’s a peaceful place where we have our club activities and nothing happens. Little by little, I have been going to the Geography Lecture Room. It’s not that I’m particularly interested in the activities, but I’ve come to think of it as a relaxing place to be in.
But the situation changed when Ibara joined the club. If Ibara is alone, she’s just an unsociable classmate. However, when put together with Satoshi…
“You were the one who said you were going to do it in the first place maybe you have a reason but that’s beside the point isn’t it obvious that you should have just contacted me it would have been alright to cancel but you should have at least given me a call I know you had your phone with you it would be fine if it were just a hassle for me but it’s not what’s with that look can you listen properly do you understand the position you’re in this won’t be fixed just by saying sorry to me.”2
It turns out like that.
How many times has it been? The first few times, Chitanda got terribly flustered and somehow tried to arbitrate. She tried to coax and cajole them, but unfortunately it was just wasted effort. Now she was not trying to interfere, but was waiting for the right time to ask about what was wrong. I looked up and met her troubled gaze. She quietly pointed at the two of them with her index finger.
The book I was reading was a SF novel, and although the opening was interesting, it got difficult to understand at the climax. I knew that something bad had happened, but I had no idea what exactly it was. I couldn’t understand it even after reading it a second time, and that was when I gradually found the two voices to be noisy. I sighed and put my book face down.
“And I know you’re aware of it but you don’t have a shred of decency when it matters you know what was going to happen but you didn’t say anything after that it rained it was windy there was lightning and even hail fell in the end I didn’t really care about this meeting but I spent time picking what to wear and all of a sudden they’re a wreck and it’s all your fault you can’t say anything about it right?”
Ibara shouted on and on with one breath.
“Are you tired yet?”
Ibara, who was staring daggers at Satoshi, turned to look at me, and gave a short and clear answer.
“Then take a break.”
She sat down meekly on a table nearby. She was really angry just now, so I’m not sure if her ire was dealt with so easily. Satoshi faced me and gave me an American-style thumbs-up as a sign of gratitude, then shamelessly remarked,
“Boy, you sure can get mad. I bet you released a lot of stress there.”
“If Fuku-chan had more common decency, I wouldn’t get stressed in the first place.”
After brushing the matter off, Satoshi turned to Chitanda.
“You should learn from Chitanda-san. I’ve never seen her get angry.”
Chitanda was heaving a sigh of relief and stroking down her chest as she witnessed the truce. I’ve never seen her do that before. Upon suddenly being dragged into a conversation, she let out a startled reply.
But Ibara frowned.
“Really? But doesn’t she get angry whenever Oreki is late?”
There was indeed something like that in the past, but that anger is slightly different from Ibara’s ire. What’s the appropriate word for it?
“I also saw it. But that was more of a scolding than anger.”
That’s it, I thought for an instant, when I realized that I was quite pitiable to be scolded by a girl of the same age.
“Ah, yeah, that’s right. It did seem more like a remonstration.”
That’s also not good.
With a troubled smile and a vague expression, Chitanda tilted her head.
“If you’re talking about not getting angry, I have not seen Fukube-san or Oreki-san get angry, either…”
After a brief moment, Ibara and I opened our mouths at the same time.
“Satoshi totally gets angry.”
“Fuku-chan does get angry.”
When people are attacked from two sides, their ability to judge falls considerably, and it was no different for Chitanda. Her large eyes tried to focus on both Ibara and I, failed, then settled on Satoshi, who was in between us.
“Is that so?”
Satoshi answered with a wry smile.
“Well, I guess. I don’t display my anger as much as Mayaka, but I do get angry every now and then.”
I just realized that I haven’t seen Satoshi get angry in front of Chitanda yet. Well, it’s only been two months. Anything’s possible.
“I cannot imagine Fukube-san get angry, though.”
It’s understandable from Chitanda’s perspective. Since Satoshi likes to show off his prowess in weird areas, he rarely displays his emotions without being afraid of what others might think, much less to the opposite gender, with Ibara being an exception.
“He’s not at all scary when he’s angry.”
Yeah, his anger has hardly any intensity. He just speaks less, doesn’t make eye contact and distinctly changes the topic by saying, “Let’s not talk about this.” From my experience, it’s not actually that rare for Satoshi to do this.
“Not scary? You really look down on me…”
Looking at the grumbling Satoshi with upturned eyes, Chitanda muttered.
“I think I am curious.”
It seems that Chitanda is planning to rile up Satoshi. I’m totally looking forward to that.
“What about Oreki?”
Ibara was looking at me.
Just when I was about to tell them about how I haven’t been angry lately, or that I was enjoying myself in this situation which was as stable as a spring day, Ibara smiled. While a smile is a smile, that was unmistakably a sneer. Ibara then turned to look at Chitanda, and in a tone that seemed to say “Get ready for it,” she spoke.
“Oreki would never get angry.”
“Is that because he’s too gentle?”
Ibara shook her head.
“No, it’s just that he’s a lonely human being who can’t even gain satisfaction from getting angry.”
…Hey, isn’t that a little cruel, whatever the circumstances?
Ah, but I realize that I didn’t even get angry from that. I haven’t been angry lately, but when was the last time I lost my temper? Well, no need to be bothered about it. Ibara’a pithy sayings are always accurate… not. It does get one aspect of the truth, but I can’t say that it is totally correct. There’s also the explanation that I’m too gentle to get mad, after all. Wait, that not right either, I can get angry if I want to.
“Haha, Houtarou’s unsure.”
I was a little annoyed at Satoshi stating the situation so frankly. Hey, I got angry!
Not caring about me, Satoshi carried on with his joke.
“Houtarou’s lack of emotions aside, I think Chitanda never getting angry is a special case. It’s like she’s used to having forbearance and being composed. Mayaka should try to be more calm and collected, not in Houtarou’s style but like Chitanda-san.”
“Even if you say that, it’s not like I can change that part of me just by trying. I don’t want to be like Oreki, and I can’t be like Chii-chan.”
Chitanda’s eyebrows clouded over. In a voice which was difficult for me to hear, she asked.
“Erm… am I being praised here?”
I wonder, although I’m definitely being spoken ill of. I somehow met Satoshi’s and Ibara’s eyes.
First, Ibara spoke.
“I think you might be.”
Next was me.
“We were just making observations, so we said nothing positive or negative.”
But Satoshi smiled with extreme amusement.
“No, no, forget those people who are unable to get angry, but I believe it’s an excellent trait to not get angry. Wrath is a serious sin, after all. I think you should scale back on your outbursts, Mayaka.”
“Sin? Do you get fined for them? Like for loud noises?”
Satoshi shook his head in a self-important manner, while Chitanda gave an explanation with a slightly red face.
“The deadly sins, right? I thought it was known as rage…”
But then she continued.
“If you are trying to praise me, please stop.”
Chitanda was hanging her head in embarrassment. On top of that, her voice was even smaller than before, so no one accepted the protest. This is probably the first time I’m seeing Chitanda feeling shy. On the other hand, Satoshi nodded in satisfaction.
“That’s right. As expected of Chitanda-san. Since it’s a popular topic, I believe you’ve heard of the seven deadly sins, Mayaka?”
“Yeah, of course I would know that.”
“Aren’t there 108 sins?”
“The seven deadly sins are concepts from Christ’s teachings, but they were only put together in posterity, so they are not recorded in the Bible. Er, besides wrath, there’s also…”
Satoshi said as he bent his thumb. Bending the rest of his fingers in order, he continued.
“Pride, greed, avarice… Hmm, I can only remember these four…”
Satoshi, who was looking like an idiot staring at his fist, was saved by Chitanda.
“Envy, lust and sloth, I think.”
When she said the last sin, it seemed like Ibara looked at me and laughed… Well, it’s not good to have a persecution complex. Currently, Ibara was looking at Chitanda.
“So that’s the seven deadly sins. Doesn’t that make Chii-chan perfect? You’re diligent, and you don’t overeat.”
“I can’t imagine you being greedy, and you’re definitely not lazy.”
“And, er… you’re not dirty-minded.”
“It’s hard to tell if she’s envious of anyone, though.”
These two were now clearly mocking her rather than praising her. Chitanda’s cherry-colored face became gradually redder. She wrung her hands to deny the allegations and spoke at a rapid pace.
“Please stop! Besides, when I get hungry I can eat a lot!”
So would anyone.
“She seems like Saint Eru, right?”
“Doesn’t ‘Chitanda Eru’ sound kind of angelic?”
“Uriel, Gabriel, Chitandael? Ahaha!”
These two sure go well together. Chitanda was pressed for a response in the face of extraordinary coordination. She cleared her throat, and mustered her fortitude and dignity. Then, suddenly,
“I said, please stop it!”
She cried in a clear voice.
“She got angry…”
“And scolded us.”
Chitanda smiled at the two despondent-looking people.
“Besides, I don’t think that it’s a good thing to never get angry.”
Ibara and Satoshi looked shocked, and I probably also had a similar expression. Chitanda continued smoothly without showing even a hint that she was searching for words to say.
“Is it not the same for the other deadly sins?”
“Sorry, Chii-chan, but I don’t really understand.”
“Is that so? I should have used a better choice of words, then.”
Chitanda smiled while answering.
“I think that one cannot do without pride and greed. Although since they were based on religious teachings, there must have been various reasons as to why they were considered deadly sins.”
Satoshi tilted his head at an unnatural angle.
“For example, if you have no pride, then that means that you have no self-confidence. And someone who can never be called greedy would be unable to support their family. Furthermore, if no one in the world felt envy, new technologies would not have been invented.”
Chitanda stopped in surprise. Looking at our expressions, she spoke.
“Umm… I didn’t mean to turn this into a lecture…”
Satoshi, who had been listening attentively, folded his arms.
“Hmm, I see. Interesting…”
I was pleased that my way of life was being defended. I asked with a light tone.
“Basically, you’re saying that it’s a matter of degree? That’s like Confucianism.”
“I cannot explain the Bible, but I just don’t think it’s useful to take the deadly sins as absolute and apply that to our lives.”
She asserted without shyness. I hadn’t thought about what Chitanda believes in, so this is quite interesting.
“So do you think that getting angry is not a bad thing, Chii-chan?”
“That’s right. If you can never get angry at anything, that probably means you have nothing that you like.”
I can totally get angry.
“But if that’s the case, then why don’t you ever get angry?”
That was a quick response.
“Because it tires me out. And I do not want to be tired.”
Satoshi held his head, which had been drained of color, in his hands and rose to his feet.
“Chi-Chitanda-san’s been poisoned by Houtarou! What in the world! I should have at least prevented this from happening! There’s a ghost haunting Kamiyama High! The ghost of conserving energy!”
“No, that was just a joke.”
In a voice that seemed like it would vanish soon, she apologized.
“Sorry, I had a sudden impulse to play around.”
I could say that it was obvious, but that’s just escaping from the fact that I was just fooled by Chitanda. And I thought that I had found a soulmate.
Chitanda answered the question again, as if the tomfoolery earlier had been forgotten.
“It’s not that I cannot get angry. I can also lose my temper. Hmm, for example…”
Our attentive gazes were gestures prompting her to get on with her answer.
“When I see people wasting food, I get angry.”
… Well, she’s the daughter of a farming family. She believes in the saying “Each grain of rice is a drop of sweat.”
Thinking about that, I suddenly remembered about the incident during the fifth period. I spoke without giving much thought.
“On that topic, wasn’t it you who got angry in Omichi’s class during the fifth period?”
While speaking, I felt Chitanda’s mood change.
Now I’ve done it. A wave of regret caused my back to stiffen.
Chitanda, who had been enjoying the amusing, calm chat, slightly pulled back her slender chin and closed her lips tightly. While she doesn’t exaggerate her emotions, her mood changes are easy to understand. She muttered.
“Ah, that’s right! How could I have forgotten? I was hoping that I could ask Oreki-san about that!”
Great. Another blunder. Satoshi and Ibara were teasing Chitanda about being a saint or blessed person just now. I was thinking that the image didn’t really suit her if you consider the aspect of doing things in moderation. That was a huge error. While she is diligent, the trait that makes her differ from a perfect person is her curiosity.
Having disturbed the snake’s brush4, I clicked my tongue silently. Indifferent to my plight, Satoshi seemed to be at ease.
“Did something happen, Chitanda-san?”
“Yes. Actually, during the fifth period, I got angry in math class.”
Chitanda gave Satoshi and Ibara a vague nod, and then turned to look at me. I wish I had been looking elsewhere, but there’s no use crying over spilt milk.
“But I do not know what happened to make me angry. Of course, there was no need for me to get angry, but something happened to make me angry, and I do not know what it was that happened.”
I had to work really hard to grasp the meaning of her convoluted sentence. In short, it’s probably what Chitanda said next.
Today’s fifth period was math, taught by Omichi-sensei.
I believe that Oreki-san and Fukube-san know what kind of teacher he is.
I’m not sure where I should start in a way that you will understand, so I will explain from the beginning.
Omichi-sensei arrived pretty much just as the bell chimed for the fifth period. He looked displeased, but as far as I know, he has that expression for most circumstances. He opened the door, and right before he entered the classroom, he stopped for a moment and looked at the class name plate. Everything up to that point was fairly normal.
After hurriedly bowing, he started writing a quadratic equation on the blackboard. It was quite a simple equation, y = x2 + x + 1, but he restricted the domain of x from 0 to 3. Then, wile tapping his shoulder with his bamboo pole, he singled out Kawasaki-san and told him to draw the range of y. Do you know Kawasaki-san? He is a tall and thin guy who stammers a little… but that has nothing to do with the story.
Kawasaki-san obviously looked confused, as was I. We had not been taught anything about domain restrictions yet.
I thought that Omichi-sensei was testing our imagination, trying to find out what we knew about domain restrictions before starting his lesson. Frankly, I am no expert on these matters, but I have experienced this style of teaching before. Then again, this method of making students think does not seem to fit with Omichi-sensei’s lesson plan.
Kawasaki-san thought about Omichi-sensei’s question for a while, then said that he did not know how to answer it.
At that moment, contrary to my expectations, Omichi-sensei became angry. “What? You don’t know? What were you listening to in my previous lesson?” He started berating Kawasaki-san… I don’t really want to say this, but it was actually more like he was abusing Kawasaki-san.
After saying some more unreasonable words about how his future was insecure, Omichi-sensei told Kawasaki-san to sit down.
The next one chosen was Tamura-san, who is better in math than Kawasaki-san. He stood up, but was unable to give an answer.
Omichi-sensei called Tamura-san an idiot and ordered him to sit down. He then looked around the class and said in a loud voice, “Isn’t there anyone who can solve this?”
I should have probably noticed it earlier, but at this point I finally realized that Omichi-sensei had mistaken how far we had gotten in the textbook. I checked the textbook, and found that today we should have only completed the methods of determining a quadratic function and started on maximum and minimum values. Omichi-sensei was off by about one hour’s worth of lessons.
As others in the class began to realize too, the classroom started to get noisy. That only made Omichi-sensei more irritated and he started striking the blackboard with his bamboo pole. He then criticized our attitude towards lessons, love of learning and public spirit in an exasperated tone. He also had really harsh words to say about our path after graduation and our future. Yes, that’s right, he would hit the blackboard after every pause.
I think there were a few people in the class who could sketch the range of y. I do not go to a prep school, but I know that most prep schools cover lesson content considerably earlier compared to normal schools. However, those who knew the answer just kept silent, and no one raised their hand.
Omichi-sensei pointed at Tamura-san again. He was made to stand up and remain there until he thought of the answer. That was when I stood up. I told him that he might have mistaken our progress, and requested him to double-check in the textbook.
Eh? What did I say specifically?
…Sorry, but that’s a secret. Whatever I said while I was angry is not something I want to recall and be proud of.
That’s right, that was when I got angry.
After saying all that, Chitanda cleared her throat slightly. She was probably embarrassed from revealing her anger.
The expert on rage, Ibara, urged Chitanda to carry on.
“What happened after that?”
“Omichi-sensei picked up the textbook. Then he checked a few pages, muttered ‘Ah, I see!’ and told Tamura-san to sit down. It was a normal lesson after that.”
Ibara folded her arms imperiously.
“So Omichi’s that kind of teacher. I’m sorry for Chii-chan and everyone else, but I’m glad I didn’t get that kind of teacher!”
“Exactly! Seriously, it’s thanks to him that I had to work my ass off even after the midterm exams!”
I gave a reply to Satoshi, who had raised his voice, as if he was in a play.
“Your failing marks are not Omichi’s fault. You’d better do something about your final exams.”
Next, I said to Ibara,
“He’s not exactly a bad teacher.”
“That’s right, he is not a terrible teacher.”
“Well, I guess he’s not so bad.”
Aren’t these amazing people who can understand any perspective?
Chitanda looked at me.
“So, anyway, what do you think?”
By that, do you mean that the story is over? I rearranged my crossed legs.
“Was there something strange about that story?”
Chitanda looked from right to left, troubling over whether she should repeat what she had just said. Then, she spoke.
“Ah, I did not mention what I was most concerned about.
“What I find mysterious is why Omichi-sensei made that kind of mistake. From his writing on the blackboard and his exam markings, Omichi-sensei does not seem the type to make mistakes.”
Satoshi edged into the conversation.
“There are two types of strict teachers. One is strict to himself, while the other is lenient to himself.”
Isn’t that also true for people in general? Well, even I know that Omichi would be the former type.
“Even so, why did he make such an obvious mistake? I really don’t understand.”
As usual, you’re asking the impossible. I raised my eyebrows.
“So you want to know why he committed the error? That’s impossible no matter how you look at it. Why don’t you go to the staff room now and look inside his head?”
Chitanda shook her head.
“No, please listen. Oreki-san and Fukube-san probably know this, but Omichi-sensei always opens his textbook after the lesson, even if he did not use it at all.”
Satoshi and I looked at each other and shrugged at the same time. None of us had bothered to observe his actions.
“And then he uses his pen to write some short memo. What do you think that is for?”
I see, so that’s how it is. I get what she’s trying to say.
“To keep track of how far in the curriculum he went in that class?”
“I think so too. Omichi-sensei would notice any mistakes by checking the textbook, and I believe that has happened a few times before. Furthermore, he most likely knows that we are class A, for he always checks the name plate before entering a classroom.
“Are you following? Omichi-sensei then looks at the memo that shows the lesson progress and then checks the classroom again. You could say that it is perfect.
“But then, why would he still be able to make a mistake?”
I’m guessing that his notes are like “1st June, Class X” on page 15 and “3rd June, Class X” on page 20 or something. If not, he wouldn’t know which page he had gotten to.
I threw out a suggestion without giving much thought.
“Couldn’t he have mistaken the date?”
One has to take responsibility for his words. The punishment for my careless words was dealt swiftly. With a cold gaze, Ibara retorted.
“… If that’s the case, he might backtrack, but it couldn’t have caused him to skip ahead. Use your brain, don’t just speak by spinal reflex.”
Did you have to say the word “spinal”? Ibara is in perfect form today. Indeed, he could have looked at a previous memo, but he definitely cannot do so for a future memo that has not been written…
Ibara, who was on top form, turned to Chitanda and cocked her head in puzzlement.
“I’m not trying to beat you at your own game, but…”
“I’m a little curious about something. Mind if I ask you a question?”
“You’re asking me? Yes, go ahead.”
Chitanda changed her posture, which may have been a lack of judgment on her part. Instead of taking on a more serious disposition, Ibara asked the question in her usual tone.
“About Chii-chan’s story, I understand why you would get angry. It seems like he said something extremely severe, and in that situation I would be angry, too. But I wouldn’t want to talk back to a teacher like that. Isn’t that like deliberately putting your hand into a fire?”
She said the last sentence while looking at me and Satoshi in order. Well, that’s an extreme thing to say. Witticisms like that don’t suit her.
Ibara may not know Omichi, but she knows that it’s a huge risk to argue with him when he has lost his temper. I would obviously not do something like that, and neither would Satoshi. I doubt anyone in Kamiyama High’s thousand-strong student body would do that. That’s why I was surprised during the fifth period.
But Chitanda gave a careless response.
“I’m not sure why I got angry.”
She got so mad she forgot herself? Is this Chitanda we’re talking about here? No matter what, I just can’t imagine… As I thought to myself, Chitanda continued.
“But I don’t think I got angry because he was criticizing us.”
After pondering for a while, Ibara asked,
“Then was it because those who could answer kept quiet?”
“I don’t think so. No one would want to answer in that situation. Also, if someone had answered, the lesson would have continued while it was too far ahead.”
“Because no one else pointed out the teacher’s mistake?”
Ibara thought some more.
“Was it because that Tamura person looked pitiful?”
That would be just like Chitanda.
Or too much like her. The person in question tilted her head to the side.
“I was sympathetic towards him, but I don’t think I would get angry over that. I don’t really understand myself, but I can understand why Omichi-sensei would scold students who did not remember anything from the previous lesson, although his words might have been too harsh.
“…But what was it that made me angry?”
Then Chitanda gave a half-smile.
“I find myself difficult to understand sometimes.”
“Hmm, I see.”
Ibara also smiled awkwardly.
I understand why Ibara asked her question. Anyone in Chitanda’s shoes would feel pissed off. Even I would have felt uncomfortable in that position. But since we have the impression that Chitanda never loses her temper, it is strange for her to be angry even when that would be natural for others.
But the answer for that question was not given. As Chitanda mentioned, it could be because she finds it difficult to answer, or perhaps because she feels embarrassed about it, or maybe because it’s troublesome… Wait, did she even mention anything about it being troublesome?
I don’t know Chitanda well enough to sense her likes and dislikes. Moreover, I had more interest in finishing the paperback book in my hand.
“What do you think, Oreki-san?”
“I also don’t know why, but…”
At that point, Chitanda paused. She quickly took a deep breath and looked at me, her huge eyes sparkling with enthusiasm.
“But you can figure it out if you just think about it a little!”
“Oh?” Satoshi asked in a raised voice. I was taken aback. Is this what it feels like to be depended on?
And did she realize that I had not put in any thought about it?
Ibara, who was sitting on the other side of the classroom, raised her eyebrows.
“Chii-chan, you can’t expect much from Oreki, even if he tries. He was a grasshopper in his previous life.”
“Wow, Mayaka-san, you can see people’s former incarnations?”
Just when I thought that her curiosity had been diverted,
“But right now I’m curious about Omichi-sensei.”
In an instant, we’re back to square one. How annoying. By the way, Satoshi’s more suited to being a grasshopper than me. They die in the winter not because they save energy, but because of their principle of enjoying life to its fullest.
Well, I won’t get anywhere if I don’t say anything…
I guess I’ll give up on my book for a while and start thinking.
It should be safe to assume that Omichi was indeed writing down the class’ progress in his textbook. At any rate, he’s done nothing but teach math for the last ten or twenty years. Like for previous years, he’s teaching many classes this year, and it would be definitely confusing to keep track of each class’ progress. Using memos would be the obvious answer.
However, despite his efforts, he made a mistake. And he did not backtrack, but went further ahead. This is truly a strange story.
Wait a minute. How would it be possible to skip ahead?
To commit that mistake, there has to be a note on one of the pages after the correct one. Class X has not advanced that far yet, but a note on the page indicates that they have.
That could just be the simple answer to the problem. I crossed my legs and asked Chitanda,
“Your class hasn’t learnt about domains, right?”
“Yes, you’re right.”
Chitanda looked bewildered as she affirmed the needless statement. My next question only added to her confusion.
“What if I said that your class already has?”
“…What do you mean?”
“Omichi teaches math every year. We’re not Omichi’s only students… last year’s class A also learnt about restrictions on the domain of X at some point.”
“Ah,” Chitanda gasped. Mistaking last year’s memo for this year’s is certainly plausible, right?
However, before Chitanda could declare her agreement, Satoshi shook his head slowly.
“If you’re saying that he might have mistaken last’s years notes, I’m afraid that’s impossible.”
“What do you mean?”
As always, Satoshi seemed awfully happy when sharing some meaningless information.
“It’s simple. The teachers get new textbooks every year. They need to have the latest revisions to stay consistent with the students, right? By the way, Omichi is using this year’s fourth edition.”
Chitanda cast down her eyes.
…I see, it does seem obvious after Satoshi said it. I would really like to know how he even knows which edition Omichi is using, though.
But since Omichi has the habit of writing in his textbooks, what if the notes got mixed up… it’s certainly possible, but whether Chitanda would accept it is another question. Omichi probably writes the class and date on the page where he stopped. Could he have written it in some confusing scrawl? Unless there’s a way to prove that he likes to scribble in his textbook…
Seeing me sit there in sullen silence, Satoshi decided that I was not to be depended on and continued in a light-hearted tone.
“I really don’t get domains, though. I’m not proud of it, but it’s already hard enough for me just to draw the x and y axes. It would be scary to be singled out by Omichi.”
If that’s the case, how about you forget some of your random trivia and focus on your studies instead? …I can’t really say that, can I? It would be like telling birds not to fly. I wonder what Satoshi is trying to learn about now. I remember him saying something about The Book of Changes.5
Ah, hang on.
I suddenly hit upon an idea. I questioned Satoshi.
“Satoshi, is your class already done with domains?”
“What class are you in?”
“Hey Oreki, you should at least remember your friends’ classes.”
I tried a counterattack on Ibara.
“Then do you know what class I’m in?”
“It’s not like we’re friends or anything.”
I was lost for words.
Seeing the situation, Satoshi laughed.
“It’s okay, Mayaka. Houtarou knows.”
As he said that, I had a feeling that I did know.
Satoshi’s class has completed domains. My class has not. And of course, neither has Chitanda’s.
I see. I get it now.
“There is no question that he made a note on some page ahead of where your class has gotten to.”
“Yes, that’s right. I think so too.”
“Additionally, the note was written this year, and shows the class’ progress. What if the memo he wrote wasn’t, in fact, for your class, but for Satoshi’s class?”
Ignoring Chitanda’s question, Satoshi asked dubiously.
“Omichi is in charge of classes A, B, C and D. Even if it wasn’t class A or B, it doesn’t have to be class D, right?”
“And anyway, why class D?”
“Because it wouldn’t be strange for him to mistake D for A. C is clearly nothing like A.”
Ibara glared at me, as if to say “You’ve said something stupid again.” No, that’s inaccurate. She did actually said it.
“You’ve said something stupid again. A and D are totally different.”
I slightly quailed under her stare, but I pretended to remain calm.
“Omichi’s a math teacher.”
“A math teacher has a much higher chance of mixing up A and D. It’s like the katakana ツ (tsu) and シ (shi).”
Her disdainful glare seemed to ask, “Hey, are you not feeling well?” Somehow, when she’s arguing with Satoshi, she can remain enlivened all the way until the end, but when arguing with me, she seems to lose her energy.
Even so, I continued.
“For example, Omichi wrote something like ‘1st June, A’ on page 10 and ‘1st June, D’ on page 15, right? If he mistook D for A, that would explain what happened. Furthermore…”
I took a short breath.
“Omichi would be used to writing in the lower case.”
At that instant, all four of us fell into silence.
I was wondering if they had understood, or if they were thinking, “What rubbish is this?” It was a tense moment for me.
Finally the silence was broken.
“Ah, I see!”
“It’s the lower case a and d!”
I nodded with a stiff expression. Since Chitanda claimed that Omichi checked the class name plate, it would be wrong to say that he had gotten the classroom wrong. In that case, there would be no other way for him to be mistaken except through the memo. It would be impossible for him to read “A” wrongly. However, it would be a different story for “a”.
Ibara still firmly remained silent.
Her lips stiffened, and for some reason she stared at me resentfully. But unexpectedly, what came out of her mouth was words of agreement.
“…Yeah, that’s possible.”
“What, are you feeling uncomfortable?”
“Yeah, I recently lost points in an English test because the teacher couldn’t tell the difference between my ‘a’ and ‘d’.”
“Oh, you too? In my case, it was ‘n’ and ‘h’.”
Thankfully, it seems that I’m not the only one with this experience. In my case it’s not English but Math, and I’ve lost marks because my 1 and 7 could not be differentiated. Thinking about it, that was when I was still a rosy-cheeked, handsome youth, that is to say, when I was in first grade. I remember feeling vexed about getting the right answer and not getting the marks, but I didn’t care too much about it.
Now, what about Chitanda?
Chitanda, with her elegant handwriting, has not had such an experience. She thought for a while, then gave two slight nods.
“Yes, that does seem likely.”
Chitanda smiled gently.
“‘a’ and ‘d’… I can understand the mistake now. I may have gone too far in what I said to Omichi-sensei. That was wrong of me.”
Those words made me feel slightly shocked.
Those were almost the exact words that I predicted that Chitanda would be thinking.
“Eh? Why do you say that?”
After taking a sidelong glance at Ibara, who was insisting that Chitanda did not go too far since Omichi was in the wrong, I stole a glance at Chitanda’s face. Contrary to her self-blaming words, her countenance was sunny and I could even see that she was somewhat relieved.
This is what I thought deep down.
The normally calm Chitanda got angry, and she wanted to know why. She said that it’s not necessarily bad to get angry, but the truth is that she never wants to. Perhaps Chitanda wanted Omichi to have had his reasons, and wanted to believe that she got angry because of her own mistake, so she wanted to understand her reasons for getting angry.
Isn’t Chitanda that kind of person?
I shook my head to chase that last thought away. What’s with me thinking “Isn’t Chitanda that kind of person?” when I’ve known her for only two months? I would largely understand Satoshi’s thoughts and feelings, since I’ve known him since middle school. The same can be said of Ibara, who has been in the same class as me for nine years and can be said to be an acquaintance. But what do I know about Chitanda?
That’s right. I’ve managed to predict her actions sometimes, but then again, her motives were clearly shown, and to think that I can read her innermost thoughts would be, as she said, to commit a deadly sin. The deadly sin of pride. I’d better watch out, I’ve somehow become quite conceited. Even just today, how many times has Chitanda acted different from my expectations?
I smiled bitterly, and realized that Ibara and Satoshi had digressed from the topic of Omichi. Seems like it’s not my turn anymore. I looked at my watch and found that it was almost five. I gazed at the sunset outside. Perhaps it’s time to go home?
“I understand what Chii-chan is saying, but I don’t know, if I was there…”
“Then you would do what you would normally do. But think about what Chitanda-san was saying earlier…”
Well, I guess it’s still early. I picked up my book and read the page it was open at again. Like this, more of my high school life is squandered away. Personally, I think that committing the deadly sin of sloth is more than enough for me.
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- Horizontal alliances refers to states allying with each other to repel the Qin state, while vertical alliances refers to states allying with Qin to participate in its ascendancy.
- I didn’t forget to include punctuation for a bunch of sentences, it’s just Ibara.
- In traditional Buddhist thought, people are said to have 108 afflictions or kleshas. There are six senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and consciousness) multiplied by three reactions (positive, negative, or indifference) making 18 “feelings.” Each of these feelings can be either “attached to pleasure or detached from pleasure” making 36 “passions”, each of which may be manifested in the past, present, or future, making 108 klesha.
- Meaning to stir up trouble for yourself.
- An ancient Chinese divination text, also known as I Ching.
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