(Title – 大和撫子 – Yamato Nadeshiko – The Epitome of Pure, Feminine Beauty)
“Minna-san, konbanwa,” my mom greeted everyone and gave a gentle bow.
She was wearing her usual pink salmon iromuji and her long, silky black hair was perfectly kempt. She was so graceful and wore a sweet smile. Her eyes were radiant brown like mine. She was a petite woman but her stature did not affect how elegant she is. She was ALMOST a perfect depiction of a Yamato Nadeshiko.
( 「色無地」literally “plain colour” are unpatterned kimonos in a single-colored kimono worn by both married and unmarried women. They are most appropriate for tea ceremonies. The formality is determined by the absence or presence and number of crests.)
(「大和撫子」is a Japanese term meaning the “personification of an idealized Japanese woman”, or “the epitome of pure, feminine beauty.” It is a floralmetaphor, combining the words Yamato, an ancient name for Japan, and nadeshiko, a delicate frilled pink carnation called Dianthus superbus, whose kanji translate into English as “caressable child” or “wide-eyed barley.”)
“Please excuse me for being late. I just got back from the noontime chanoyu that I attended with my friends. My name is Fumiko Shiratori. I’m guessing my husband forgot to introduce himself,” she said as she eyed my dad.
( “Chanoyu” 「茶の湯」or “sadō/chadō”「茶道」is the “Japanese tea ceremony” or otherwise called the “Way of Tea.” It is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha「抹茶」which means “powdered green tea.”)
“Oh, ha ha. I’m sorry kids. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Akihiko Ishikawa,” my dad was laughing as he scratched his head.
“I’m currently preparing food for everyone. Kichirō, dear, can you help your mother prepare food?” She squinted her eyes and smiled at me.
“Uhm, mom. You know I don’t know how to cook,” I indirectly refused. I looked down to the floor and started to fidget.
“I don’t recall giving birth to a useless son,” she said. Her words did not match the smile that she was flashing me. She perfectly struck me like lightning.
I really wanted to cry but I held onto my tears. Many believed that she was a perfect Yamato Nadeshiko but they don’t know that she is a strict perfectionist. She can be vicious when it comes to training me. I’m really doing my best to impress her but it seems that it’s still not good enough. She slightly changed though after the series of unfortunate events that happened to me in the past. Her current self is way better than before. Try to imagine how scary she was before.
“Honey, don’t be like that with your son. I can help you instead,” my dad butted in.
“Oh, Kichirō and I are good. You can rest here. I know how tired you are lately. It’s quite difficult being a doctor,” declining my dad’s offer to help.
My dad did not respond and just smiled. He is the type of guy who obediently follows my mom’s orders.
Ryū stood up from where he was seated and took a step forward. I can help you, Ishikawa no Okasan. I’m perfectly trained in cooking,” Ryū started to butt in. “Our family owns a restaurant in Tokyo so I’m used to cooking. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ryū Ueno. I’m your son’s best friend from school,” he bowed and smiled genuinely at my mom.
( 「石河のお母さん」means “Ishikawa’s mom.)
There he goes again with his “we’re-best-friends status.” 😑
“I see. Thank you for the offer, Ryū-kun. You can help but I also need my son to help as well,” my mom smiled. She looked convinced with what Ryū said. “I’m sorry but I didn’t catch your names?” She started to ask Ken and Ki-kun.
“Hi Mrs. Ishikawa. My name is Naoki Sakaguchi, Kichirō-san’s other best friend and classmate,” he introduced himself. This time, he did not justify that he is my real best friend. He looked kind of tense.
“Uhm…,” Ken stuttered.
“Yes?” My mom asked as she craned her head toward him.
This is the first time I saw Ken being intimidated and shy.
“This mute friend of ours is named Ken Hirano. He’s our senpai and best friend of Ryū-senpai,” Ki-kun introduced Ken in his behalf.
“Oh, you all have such a complicated relationship with each other. Let’s just say you’re all friends with my son,” she replied.
“Yeah, mom. That’s what dad said, too,” I forced a chuckle but stopped midway because my mom was eyeing me. I just decided to clear my throat to ease the awkwardness.
“Okay, please enjoy this gathering. Ryū, Kichirō, and I will just prepare our meal,” my mom said. “Oh, son, please go ahead. I will follow. I just need to change my clothes.”
Ryū and I quietly walked toward the kitchen. We were in the hallway when we came to a stop.
“It’s pretty unusual for you to be this quiet,” Ryū broke the silence. “I’m not used to it.”
I looked at him and gave out an “oh.”
“Are you and your mom not on good terms?” He asked.
“Not really. I’m just scared of her. She is just so strict when it comes to me. She’s different with Shūichirō, though,” I gloomily responded.
“Don’t be sad. Remember? I told you that I’m always here for you. I’ll help you with your mom.”
I just blushed and did not respond. He’s always got that way of making me blush.
“Oh, what’s up with that ‘best friend’ label that you’re talking about?” I asked.
“Stupid. So do you want me to tell them that I’m trying to date you?” He said in a monotone as he squinted his eyes.
“No way!” I yelled.
“See? Just follow my lead.” He held onto my hand and we continued walking.
In the kitchen, there were a lot of ingredients prepared on top of the counter. I could see some stuff that my mom is cooking on the stove.
“Oh, looks like she’s trying to prepare a Kaiseki for everyone,” Ryū guessed as he touched his chin.
( “Kaiseki” 「懐石」or “kaiseki-ryōri”「懐石料理」is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The term also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals, and is analogous to Western haute cuisine)
My eyes grew big. “How did you know by just looking?”
“Trust me. I know,” he said with a smug face. “You can just sit here and play with your toys.”
“Okay,” I nodded. I then realized what he said. “Hey! Im not a kid!” I pouted.
“You are to me,” he smirked and pinched my cheek.
My face became pink as I rubbed the part that he pinched. I sat on the stool and just observed him.
He put on an apron and started to prepare the ingredients. He really looked like someone who owned a restaurant. I’m really amazed that he is so perfect.
I’m imagining that if we will graduate and we will live together, I would be able to eat a lot of tasty foods everyday. On top of that, I can’t stop thinking about waking up in the morning seeing him in the kitchen, cooking, and wearing nothing else but an apron. Damn that’s a complete turn on. He’d look so sexy.
“You’re thinking of lewd things about me, aren’t you?” Ryū then talked.
My day dreaming shattered and I woke up from my daze. I almost drooled fantasizing about those stuff. “Hey! How did you know what I was thinking about?” I blurted.
“Heh, I was right. So shameless,” he smirked.
“I’m not thinking about you. I was thinking about the food!”
“You just ate earlier and now you’re hungry again? Do you have a snake in your tummy?”
“I’m sure it’s the food that I was thinking about,” I lied.
“Yeah. Convince yourself,” he flatly said.
I just gave out a “hmpf” and crossed my arms while facing away from him.
After almost an hour, my mom came down from their room.
She looked amazed when she saw us in the kitchen. “I’m sorry. I just took a quick shower because it was so hot. How did you know I was going to prepare a Kaiseki?”
Ryū looked back and smiled at my mom. “Oh, Mrs. Ishikawa. I could tell it from the ingredients that you prepared. Your son also helped me a lot,” he obviously made the last part up.
“Oh Kichirō. This is so unlike you. Socializing with others really helped you to change a lot. I’m starting to be proud of you,” she said as she patted my head.
This was the first praise I’ve gotten from her in years. I felt so happy that I almost cried. I’m really thankful to Ryū for helping me out.
“Ryū-kun, you’re such a dear. You’re good-looking and talented with cooking. You’re obviously a smart one, too. I can’t wait to taste the food you prepared. Both of you are almost done. I didn’t even have to lift a finger. If only my son was a girl, I would gladly let you marry him. I’d love to have you as a part of my family,” my mom giggled.
“Mom!” I pouted.
“I wouldn’t mind if he’s a boy, though,” he responded as he gave out a chuckle.