Hyouka:Volume 5 Chapter 3-1
Chapter 3 - A Very Wonderful Shop
1. Present: 8.0km; 12.0km Remaining
That which you think is right and that which you think is wrong are both things you learn throughout your life from your education and experiences. You are praised for your good deeds and scolded for your bad ones. It's through this that you start drawing the distinctions between right and wrong. On the other hand, what you end up liking and not liking isn’t simply something that someone teaches you. If you were to go as far as call it innate, you would be implying that something like a baby disliking cheese in the future would have been decided from the very start, something like a small treatise on destiny. Rather, might something like someone’s preferences be akin to the various impulses that boil up from inside one’s self as they grow older? In the end, it’s inexorably linked with the ultimate question of what one treasures the most.
On that rainy day, Satoshi had told me this on the way home. He then started to smile in a seemingly condescending manner as he continued.
“Inside of you Hōtarō—you who has a wholly insufficient number of things you either like or dislike—is an impulse that you refuse to talk about. That's what Mayaka would say. I wouldn’t go that far, though.”
“If it were Ibara, she would probably say something like, ‘That’s what Fuku-chan would say. I wouldn’t go that far, though.’”
“Nope, Mayaka doesn’t talk like that at all. She says everything bluntly. Her choice of words would be much meaner.”
That was exactly the case. I was wrong.
When Satoshi and I would go home together, we would usually end up having ridiculous conversations like this while we walked. Sometimes, we would talk about even more ridiculous things like “the ultimate fate of the world,” and in even rarer moments, we might even bring up something mildly practical for a change, like “is B5 or A4 sized paper easier to use for notes.” What made that day unusual, however, was the audience listening in on our conversation, namely Ōhinata.
The rain was neither violent nor light as it continued to drip down endlessly. We had walked inside a shopping arcade, so our umbrellas were closed. Holding hers with both hands joined behind her back, Ōhinata peered into my face with a lovely gesture that didn’t suit her tomboyish appearance and smiled.
“Is Ibara-senpai really that sharp-tongued?”
It wasn’t like we had waited for her specifically, but rather, when Satoshi and I had left from the school’s front gate, we just happened to see her leaving as well. She had on a bitter smile, saying, “I haven’t really made any friends yet,” so the three of us ended up walking together. As one might expect from the fact that we all went to the same middle school, our routes home were basically the same.
To Ōhinata’s question I replied, “She is.” However Satoshi tilted his head in thought.
“It’s not like she’ll lash out at anyone. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen her act harshly towards Chitanda-san even once.”
Thinking about it, that much was certainly true, but I felt like the comparison was a little unfair.
Ōhinata then spoke in a soft voice that sounded as if she had just figured out some terrible secret.
“Maybe that has something to do with the fact that Chitanda-senpai knows a whole lot of people.”
“Um, so are you basically saying that Chitanda-san knows all of Mayaka’s weaknesses and is able to keep her on a leash as a result?”
Satoshi couldn’t help but smile in disbelief. It was such a ridiculous idea that I lost all willpower to even respond. Ōhinata was quick to change the subject, as usual. She quickly smiled and said, “Well, I suppose now I understand that Oreki-senpai is someone that doesn’t treasure anything.”
“Now hold on...”
“What about you, Fukube-senpai? What do you treasure?"
I had voiced an exceedingly dissatisfied statement, but my plea for reassessment went unheard. Satoshi shrugged and readily responded.
“That which makes me unique, I guess.”
Ōhinata let out a disappointed "Is that so," and this time Satoshi posed the question.
“Well, because you keep asking others, what about you?”
She had an impish look about her as she started to speak more loosely.
“Well as a girl, I’d have to say to say I treasure love above all else.”
As this underclassman went on about love in front of me, I started feeling like I had just witnessed a koala in the flesh, in that it was an extremely well-known animal, one that I could easily identify by its appearance, but I had never actually seen one in real life.
“Is that so…”
Satoshi responded in the exact same way that Ōhinata had done so to his previous answer. Almost as if motivated entirely by obligation, he then asked, "Oh, so there's someone like that in your life?"
As she heard this, Ōhinata suddenly broke out into a huge grin.
"Nope, not at the moment. I guess because that's the case, what's really important to me would be…"
She suddenly dropped her gaze to stare at her feet and continued, only her voice still containing the enthusiasm she just had.
I clearly understood why Satoshi had previously let out his disappointed “Is that so…” Although it wasn’t a very pleasant subject, I was still expecting her to respond with a more elaborate answer. “Love” wasn’t exactly a terrible one, but it was so clichéd.
On the other hand, I could also understand why Ōhinata had responded similarly as well. Although she had just entered high school, had a student heard something like, “That which I treasure most is my own unique nature,” they would most likely not be very moved.
I understood the vague meaning behind his words, however. Even though his face constantly looked as if he had never faced a single hardship in the world, he had many problems in his own way, and he tried to correct these to produce a better version of himself. There were many times when I could only think about how incredibly carefree I was compared to him. Even though his statement might have made an entirely ordinary impression, there was a determination in that answer that really defined who Satoshi was.
I started thinking from there.
First came love, but because there were no prospects there, her answer became her friends. This was what Ōhinata had said. That kind of answer was certainly uninteresting by itself, however, just as Satoshi had a unique determination that only he could have, the same had to be the case for Ōhinata. Had she simply said those words out of longing? Probably not.
After all, when Ōhinata had offered up “love” as her answer, she had been smiling, and yet, when she switched her answer to “friends,” her eyes were cast down.
I knew the answer rested in that behavior, but I couldn’t figure out the exact meaning behind it.
The reason I felt like I could understand at least a small portion of Satoshi’s inner workings was because of a certain incident. Last winter, after a series of complicated happenings, Satoshi opened up to a minuscule degree that which rested behind his façade and shared it with me.
Compared to that, I hadn't experienced anything similar with this underclassman girl, Ōhinata. After all, it hadn’t even been two months since I had met her. Could I even hope to understand her given the circumstances?
It might’ve been possible. The fact remained, however, that I hadn’t even tried.
While I ran, I tried to think of a way to reclaim that which I had lost by not looking at those in front of me head-on. It was idiotic of me. For example, if I didn’t listen to a lecture during class, I would have to buy a reference book before the test came around. It was like making the rope only after seeing the thief. At any rate, it was difficult for the energy-saver in me to say it, but I had only one option open to me. If a person resembled a bodhisattva on the outside, then they were like a yakṣa on the inside. A yakṣa. In other words, a demon.
There were three ways to interpret this.
The first way was to assume that Ibara’s memory was incorrect and that Ōhinata had actually said something entirely different. In the end, though, that was more along the lines of wishful thinking. Exactly what kind of misunderstanding would have had to take place for her to incorrectly hear the sentence, “She really does look like a bodhisattva, doesn’t she.”
The second way was to assume that Ōhinata had indeed said that exact line, but had meant it purely as a simple feeling or observation, without any hint of an ulterior meaning. This was also difficult to justify. Up until this point, I had never heard anyone use the phrase “That person is like a bodhisattva” to compliment someone else. Of course, you couldn’t say that there wasn’t anyone in this world that used strange phrases like that to praise others. Still overall, I had exchanged words with Ōhinata numerous times by this point, so I thought that it was safe for me to say that she didn’t fit that description.
This meant that I had to concede to the third possibility after all: Ōhinata had referred to Chitanda in a roundabout manner as being like a demon. It was a peculiar use of the language, but I could understand why she would do it. She wanted to criticize Chitanda, but naturally she couldn’t say anything like that out loud in front of Ibara, who was such good friends with her. She probably didn’t expect Ibara to catch onto that meaning alone.
If it did become a problem, Ōhinata could simply pretend that she didn’t know anything about lesser-known idioms, like “A person who resembles a bodhisattva on the outside is a yakṣa on the inside.” However, not only had Satoshi known the meaning behind the word, but I also clearly remembered some incriminating points as well. On the day of the New Recruit Festival, she had mentioned, “classical Chinese literature seems difficult, but I love Japanese studies,” and she was also able to quickly discern that the joke I told on my birthday was a line from one of Sakutarō Hagiwara’s poems. As I saw it, Ōhinata was quite skilled in this discipline.
And yet, in the end, I still wasn’t satisfied.
I couldn’t think of anything that might have gone poorly between Chitanda and Ōhinata.
I didn’t doubt that whatever had happened yesterday after school ended up being the deciding moment. I simply thought it was impossible for there to be absolutely nothing leading up to that moment. I suppose there was something I thought was strange. It happened on a Saturday if I remember correctly.
I ended up running a bit too much. I didn’t raise my head. So far, I hadn’t been sweating all too much.
I approached another hill in the road up ahead. The line of students around me was beginning to slow down, and all of a sudden, I felt like running alone.
Translator's Notes and References
- A Japanese proverb. (盗人を見て縄を綯う) It refers to someone desperately starting preparations after it is already too late.
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