Episode 6: The end of father and son
Yumi is trying to decide which lunch box to buy at the convenience store when a colleague Rokugawa Shinnosuke comes over and asks whether one of the boxes is for Akira. Seeing Yumi self-consciously attempt to hide it, he says she need not do so. When they return to the office, Yumi is disappointed to find that Akira has gone out to conduct an experiment for his work. Shinnosuke thinks she should flaunt their relationship instead of hide it even though she explains that it is because this is the workplace. The other day when they walked together, they had drawn stares and she had felt as if she was transparent. As she wonders aloud if she is good enough for Akira, Shinnosuke speculates that Akira might be attracted to a motherly figure because his mother died young. His dad too it seems. It occurs to Yumi that she has not made any homely thing for him.
On the other hand, Akira suddenly thinks of his favourite curry which he has not eaten since he came to Tokyo. Home-cooked curry topped with green peas for breakfast. He remembers how his father would say that he loved curry on the second day the most in the world.
In the winter of 1990, Akira, who had said that he will sit for the entrance exam at the local national university which he can attend from where they live, suddenly tells Yasu that he wishes to take the entrance exam for Waseda University in Tokyo. His teacher had encouraged him that if he tries a little harder, he may be able to qualify. He will work part-time and apply for a scholarship so he does not trouble him for money. Yasu wants to know what is motivating Akira to attend Waseda. Akira says he would like to see a different world and asks his father to let him go to Tokyo.
At first, Yasu is elated that Akira will be taking Waseda University’s entrance exam and boasts about it to Taeko, Shoun, Bito and Kuzuhara. In a complete change of tune, he says if Akira stays on to attend the local university, he will be like a frog in the well and that will not do for a guy. He will not be lonely because his son will only be in Tokyo for four years. However, when he hears Kuzuhara’s words that those who go to Tokyo usually do not return, it comes as a total surprise to him and he is unable to recover from his shock. After Yasu leaves Yunagi, Taeko chides Kuzuhara for his remarks. She sympathetically notes that Yasu, who lived alone since high school until he married Misako, will be on his own again once Akira leaves.
Akira is feeling uneasy about his father’s ability to live normally by himself once he leaves for Tokyo and confides in Shoun the next morning. If Yasu is left alone, he will drink from evening and only eat snacks everyday. Shoun questions if Akira will give up taking the entrance exam in that case. Meanwhile, Taeko suggests that Yasu ask his company for a transfer to Tokyo if he wants to be close to Akira, but Yasu can neither bring himself to ask to be relocated because he wants to stick to his son, nor tell Akira not to go. Trying to put up a front, he declares that he does not give a damn if Akira is gone. Akira is just going further away so why would he feel lonely. Because Taeko refuses to let him drink anymore alcohol, he moves on to a roadside stall where he provokes a quarrel with a couple from Tokyo after overhearing the man ridiculing the countryside despite being a native of this place. He ends up at the police box and Akira has to come and get him.
That night, a drunken Yasu gets into a quarrel with Akira over a trivial matter. Taking offense to Akira’s nagging about him drinking at this age and getting angry at everything people say, Yasu lashes out, asking when he has become so great that he can lecture his parent. Akira says he lost control of himself because he is drunk. But Yasu insists he is not. Akira, who tries to drag Yasu to bed, is pushed aside and told not to make a fool of him. Then Yasu demands an apology or he will not let him take Waseda University’s entrance exam and go to Tokyo. A perplexed Akira asks why. However, an angry Yasu persists in getting his apology because he cannot believe Akira is behaving this way after he brought him up single-handedly. “Apologise for treating your father with contempt. If you want to abandon your hometown, you can just go to Waseda but you’ll not get a cent. You can leave the house or anything!” He is scornful of Akira going to Tokyo when he does not have the guts and says he will drink the money for the entrance exam dry.
The next morning, Akira vanishes from their home, taking his books with him. Yasu buys a can of peas to go with the curry for dinner that night and waits for Akira to return. However, it is Shoun who comes by to inform Yasu that Akira has come to stay at their place until he graduates from high school. Yasu pretends to welcome this arrangement for the time being.
Some days later, Akira comes back while Yasu is not in to retrieve a book he had left at home and is shocked to see the state of the house … … At that same moment, Yasu faints at work due to malnutrition and is brought to the hospital. Taeko is in tears and apologises to Akira when he rushes over with Shoun. Kuzuhara is puzzled by Taeko’s behaviour so she confesses that when Akira told her he would return home in two to three days, she had suggested that he stay away a little longer so Yasu can try handling life alone. It appears that Taeko had underestimated his silliness. Moreover, she could not make him eat nutritious food because he has not been coming to Yunagi recently. When Yasu regains consciousness and sees the tray of food in front of him, he turns away. A frustrated Akira tells him to eat or he will starve. Then Misako’s death would have been in vain. Yasu is forced to oblige.
One day, Shoun comes to visit Yasu and takes him to the same seaside they went to with Akira and Kaiun many years ago. It is as cold on this day as it was on that night. Shoun fondly recalls how everyone had warmed Akira’s back. Then, he smacks a stick-on warmer on Yasu’s jacket. He tells Yasu that with the increase in convenient, fuss-free things like long-lasting stick-on warmers, mobile phones, and bullet trains that can travel faster, he will never be cold. He will be better than he expects. Moreover, there is Shoun, Yukie, Taeko and Bito so he should not fear loneliness. He should not put his own loneliness on his son because he is the parent. Akira is 18 and will not remain a child for much longer, Shoun points out and asks Yasu to let him be a child for a little while more.
That evening, Akira returns home to find that his father has retrieved the entrance application form, entrance exam instructions and other information on Waseda University which he had thrown it into the dustbin in his room. Looking at the papers spread out on the living room table, he asks what this means. Yasu gives his consent to a grateful Akira. It is Waseda or nothing at all. He later tells Taeko that it is a thankless task to be a parent because a parent will be abandoned in the end despite the terrible time gone through to raise children. She points out that it is a miracle that he has not been thrown aside until now.
Akira sits for the entrance exam. Before long, he is notified of the results and rushes to his father’s workplace to open the letter together. When they find his candidate number among the list of successful candidates, Yasu abruptly turns away to hide his emotions. The only thing he says is that he would have got through it too if he had studied that much. That night, a celebration is held at the temple but Yasu is noticeably absent, having excused himself because he remembered that he has something he has to do. Yasu, who is home alone, tells the photo of Misako that their son will be attending Waseda University’s law faculty. He asks if she remembers how he had told her she is actually clever. She could not study because she always suffered hardships. He thinks he is absolutely correct now. Akira worked hard but she put in half of it. He does not know if there is anything else he can do for their son after this.
On the night before Akira is to depart for Tokyo, Yasu makes curry topped with green peas for their last dinner together. Although any curry on the second day is just one of those things, Yasu probably loves it the most in the world. It can also be kept and eaten the next day. He then tells Akira that he is free to come back here if he wants to, but he will definitely not going up to Tokyo. He will not burden Akira and he does not want him to worry but to do whatever he fancies. His only wish is that Akira takes his mother with him because she wanted to go to Ueno Zoo.
Father and son oversleep in the morning. As a result, they have barely 15 minutes to prepare before Shoun comes to pick Akira up. Yasu serves curry and scrambles to get Akira ready. Akira gets emotional as he dishes out a string of advice to his father: do not go into the bath while drunk, do not take a cold-water bath when having a cold in the hopes of curing, do not touch the fire when drunk, drink juice at least once in two days, listen to what Aunt Taeko says because snacks have a lot of salt … … “Live long for me. Tha …” But before he can finish what he is saying, an overwhelmed Yasu rushes to the toilet and holes up inside to avoid the inevitable farewell.
By this time, Shoun has arrived and he tries to hurry Yasu or they will miss the bullet train. Yasu refuses to come out so Akira calls out, “Thank you very much all this time and for letting me go to Tokyo! I will work hard, so work hard too! Be well.” The only sound he hears before he leaves the house is that of the toilet paper roll. Yasu, who has been sniffling in the toilet, dashes out of the house after the car pulls away … …
One night in the present day, Akira gets a voice message from Yumi asking him to come by for dinner if he is available. But he only shows up the next morning after a round of drinks with Rokugawa and is surprised to find that she has cooked curry for him. Akira has not cooked curry at home since the last time he ate with his father. Seeing his reaction, Yumi wonders if she should have made something else. Akira says curry is the best on the morning of the second day. While he digs into his meal, he tells Kensuke that his father used to say that curry on the second day is special because unlike curry on the first day which is eaten by customers, it is only eaten by family members. Since the leftovers are eaten as a family, the curry is especially tasty. This prompts Yumi, who has observed how often Akira talks about his father, to ask when he passed away … …
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