OreShura: Volume 7 Chapter 10
#10: Taking Back First Place is Mayhem
After a long absence from it, I stood in the kitchen wearing an apron.
After filling the bowl with minced chicken, wine, miso, sesame oil, eggs and some mayonnaise to bring out the flavor, I stirred it.
To make good chicken balls, stirring is important.
Just by skipping this little bit of effort, the texture will be bad. Even if the seasoning is perfect, it is still far from being good. Before it gets viscous and soft, the stirring can’t stop.
Stir stir, stir.
It isn’t joyful, but it isn’t a pain either.
Stirring earnestly just to make chicken balls.
No matter who is making it, male or female, ex-chuunibyou or anti-love or whoever else, as long as it is well stirred, it will be delicious.
I suddenly noticed Chiwa standing in the living room.
She seemed to have entered from the dust outlet, I was too absorbed in stirring so I didn’t notice.
“I’m sorry, calling you over so suddenly.”
“What’s up? Inviting me to dinner suddenly.”
“That’s because eating hotpot alone is quite boring.”
I don’t know if that is considered an answer, but I still answered it this way.
Chiwa nodded, and grabbed the knife beside me.
A “zaku.” voice started appearing amidst the sound of her tearing the leaves.
“You’re doing a wonderful job.”
“Mm—but it’s still slow. I can’t cut like how Ei-kun does with a ‘don don’ sound.”
“The sound isn’t important, as long as it’s well cut it’s fine.”
Alright, that’s it for the chicken balls.
After washing my hands, I took the lid off the earthen pot that was soaked in kombu beforehand, and added some light soy sauce and sweet sake. Since chicken balls have a lot of umami itself, the seasoning needs to be light.
“As I thought, I may like cooking.”
“What’s with you all of a sudden?”
“Nothing, I just feel that way.”
Cooking will reflect the hard work and effect you poured into it, and you can immediately savour the results.
This type of entertainment is rare.
“But tomorrow is the exams, is this okay?”
Chiwa’s stopped tearing the garland chrysanthemum and looked at me worriedly.
“The finals are not our last exam, there are still quite a few. If I have to cut down my time spent on cooking to study, I can’t take first place for three years in a row.”
I used to be upset when I couldn’t spend all my free time on studying, and was very particular about my time spent on studying. As Masuzu said, I am a total “bookworm”.
However, three years in high school is a long time.
If I were to make a comparison, it’s like a marathon, at the very least, not a sprint.
If I enter the medical field, there will be a lot of studying to do; heavier than the current exams.
If that’s the case, I should learn how to “rest for a bit”.
For the final victory.
“That doesn’t feel like Ei-kun.”
“Huh? What do you mean by that.”
“Ehehe, I can’t really express it well.”
Chiwa’s eyes were smiling.
So, she is saying this isn’t a change in a bad direction?
“By the way, there is not enough meat, no? Is it just that one bowl?”
“That is three servings of minced meat.”
“Not enough not enough! Put in the pork too~”
Chiwa opened the refrigerator and took out a bag of pork ribs. Her movement was so natural I almost forgot that was my own refrigerator.
“That’s for tomorrow’s packed lunch!”
“It’s fine it’s fine! I’ll give you a portion of my lunch tomorrow…….ah, there are shrimps too!”
Now the dishes in my lunch are decreased. Damn, chicken ball hotpot is becoming a yosenabe.
The two of us sat around the boiling pot on the portable gas stove.
Just when we were finishing the steaming hot chicken balls and were getting comfortable and satisfied.
“Can you tell me why you started studying so hard?”
It slipped out of my mouth.
I asked her what I couldn’t before very naturally.
Chiwa put down her chopsticks and stared at me.
“I want to become a teacher in a school.”
I didn’t feel surprised at all, despite it being the first time I heard her say it.
Chiwa, a teacher.
Logically, this wouldn’t be a suitable career for her, but for some reason I feel it suits her.
“We went to Hane-kou this summer right? I thought about it when I was looking after the underclassmen, I think this might be what I want to do.”
“Do you want to be the advisor for the kendo club?”
Chiwa shook her head.
“Although it would be best if I can, I don’t have a particular club in mind. Softball is fine, wind orchestra is fine, theater club is fine. As long as I am helping people who are working hard, I am happy with it.”
“People who are working hard, huh?”
Now I understand why I felt it was a suitable career before.
Chiwa is someone who finds joy in “working hard”, someone who can practice swinging the bamboo sword a hundred times happily.
I think there are two possible routes for this type of person.
One is a road where the person works hard themselves.
The other is “supporting others who are working hard”.
Although the latter looks easy, it’s actually not the case. To stay beside someone who works hard, if you don’t work similarly hard, there will not be an equal standing.
“You’re really great, Chiwa.”
Although Hime grew up, Chiwa also grew up.
Without realizing it, I got left behind—
“What are you talking about?”
Chiwa stared at me, bewildered.
“The reason I am thinking this way is because I saw Ei-kun.”
Before I realized it, I was staring at Chiwa.
“Honestly, Eita, you really don’t understand yourself.”
“Hah—”, Chiwa sighed loudly.
“Someone as determined as Ei-kun is really rare. So overly serious, so stubborn yet so diligent. Really, you are so close to becoming an idiot.”
I don’t know if she’s looking down on me.
“I was always thinking what to do, falling for this kind of Ei-kun. But, it is actually quite easy. I just need to work as hard as Ei-kun. This way, we can be together, no?”
“……is that so……”
“Eh, what do you mean by ‘is that so’?”
Because, that, how to put that.
Although I felt embarrassed, for the first time, I had a sincere feeling.
My childhood friend Chiwa, who used to be like a little sister.
She loves me so sincerely, so seriously.
“You really do like me huh.”
“Is that what you should be saying now!?”
Chiwa looked surprised from the bottom of her heart. I can’t help it, I haven’t been actually popular. It has been different since I entered high school.
“Then let me say it another time? Listen carefully.”
“I like Ei-kun. I really like the Ei-kun who works hard.”
How can she say something like this without getting embarrassed…
“So, please, from now on, please let me continue liking you.”
“……d-do whatever you like.”
In the end, I can only answer her this way.
As long as I am still anti-love, if someone harbors feelings towards me, I can only push them away.
However, Chiwa brushed it away with a laugh.
How joyful is this actually—
For someone twisted like me, I can’t understand that feeling.
However, this is something I can’t lose, definitely can’t.
“From now on, come over to cook at my house in alternating days.”
“But, this will go against what we decided on back in August—”
I stopped Chiwa with my hand—
“You said it before right? You don’t want to be spoiled by me anymore, so we shall be eating our own meals for now.”
“You’re not behaving like a spoilt child anymore, if you can help me cook it will be helpful, and cooking for me will be a good change of pace. So—”
I extended my hand towards Chiwa.
“So, let us help each other.”
A smile started to appear on Chiwa’s face as she stared at me.
“Cooking only for one person doesn’t taste good, right.”
“I know right? Making two or three servings is just right.”
We shook hands above the earthen pot.
I’m happy to have my extended hand shook in return.
“By the way, Ei-kun, the water is boiling.”
“Ohh!? I forgot to turn off the gas, what a waste!”
Let’s eat some udon with mizuna on top. Adding some eggs in it to make a porridge is good too.
No matter what we do, it should be quite warming.
Because I’m eating together with Chiwa
The next morning, I arrived at school two hours earlier than usual.
I turned on the heater in the empty classroom, reading my textbook while waiting.
“Eh, I’m second?”
The person I was waiting for appeared with a surprised voice and expression.
Mogami Yura, so the rumor that she is always the first one to enter the classroom real?
“What’s going on, aren’t you a bit too early today?”
“Oh, I’ll be coming this early from now on.”
I handed my textbooks to the surprised Mogami.
I lowered my head as much as I could and said.
“Please! Please teach me English and mathematics!”
Mogami glanced at the textbooks—
“Aren’t these the textbooks for middle school?”
“Yes, these are enough.”
When it comes down to it, my weakness was not studying in middle school. There are plenty of English vocabulary and grammar that I failed to grasp, and formulae that I didn’t understand completely.
Although I managed to ignore it up till now, it’s still like building a house on a weak base, continuously expanding it. As long as the base is weak, no matter how long you take it isn’t possible to build a skyscraper. It’s impossible to move forward.
That’s why I should take a step back.
Back to the part I understand.
It doesn’t matter if it’s middle school or elementary school, I should take a step back.
And if I need to learn from someone, learning from the smartest person is the fastest route. It doesn’t matter if that person is a rival. If it prevents me from achieving my goal, I can feed my pride to dogs.
Mogami took off her coat and replied nonchalantly.
“It’s fine, if you will go to karaoke with me again, that is.”
To listen to that “Hanihaniho—” again?
“Eh, are you ‘’that’’ happy?”
Mogami said without even smiling.
……if that’s the case I can’t help it. Acting, acting.
“Ya—yay—karaoke with Mogami-san—. I’m so happy—”
“To answer your support, let Yuraa Mogami sing “Even Those of Low Ability can Outdo Themselves when Flattered”.
Yura-chan’s recital suddenly started.
Endure it, me! This is for the future vengeance, endure it for now!
When you’re passionate about something, time flies.
With the help of Mogami, “Operation Kidou Eita restudying from middle school” went without a hitch. Although I don’t feel happy about it, this girl is good at teaching. Feeding my pride to the dogs was the correct choice.
After telling Mogami this, she muttered “Pride chicken” softly. By the time I realized this was a wordplay on my “feeding my pride to the dogs”, school had already ended. When you’re making a joke, at least make it sound like a joke. Please don’t look so serious.
Despite what I said, it didn’t go without a single problem.
Masuzu, knowing that I was studying together with Mogami, came to complain about it to me during the break.
“You have to choose Harusaki-san’s friend to cheat on her with. What are you thinking?”
“I’m not cheating on her. This is what they call lose a dime and win a dollar.”
“Even if you become a professor in proverbs, I won’t allow it.”
I am not interested in taking away the title of the waitress.
“To regain first place, learning from the one holding first place is the fastest way.”
“Don’t you have any pride?”
I explained it to an angry Masuzu.
“Do you have the habit of eating fried chicken during Christmas? Although I don’t know who started it, but for me, that’s the day I don’t want to eat fried chicken the most in the entire year.”
Don’t look at me like I’m an idiot, alright, let me explain.
“Christmas is a day when fried chicken shops are a few times busier than usual; there will be long queues. When this happens, won’t I cause trouble to people who like fried chicken, who can’t help but eat them every day? To queue up just because of Christmas night, won’t it make it hard for people who actually love fried chicken to get them? And after Christmas is over they won’t even look at fried chicken anymore, why? This phenomenon—it’s saddening. This is why I wanted to take a road different from others, this is my pride.”
I thought I said it full of passion, but Masuzu-san’s eyes were cold.
“The story you just said, what does it have to do with your pride?”
“What, does, it, have, to, do, with, your, pride?”
Uoh. Masuzu-san is actually mad……?
“According to your logic, we shouldn’t eat cakes anymore?”
“Cakes are different, I will eat them at my birthdays.”
Isn’t it said that desserts are stored in a different stomach? You can’t compare that to what I said just now.
Masuzu sighed deeply.
“If Harusaki-san knew about this, won’t she get angry?”
“There’s no problem with that, I already informed her about it.”
“If that’s the case, Harusaki-san is really Harusaki-san. If I was your girlfriend, I would never let this happen.”
After saying that, Masuzu’s expression changed instantly with a “hah”.
Just when I thought her voice became lower, she dragged herself back to her seat.
I think I need to talk things through with Masuzu after this, but I need to focus on preparing for the finals.
With training from Mogami, I can overcome the weakness from my middle school life.
However, my preparation on the high school syllabus is lacking compared to usual. I’m especially worried about the memory based subjects like social studies and the sciences.
If I want to set my sights on the future, this is unavoidable. However, I can’t have the attitude of “it’s fine if I don’t get first place this term”.
I’ll just try my best.
And so, examination period “is over”.
In my three years of middle school, that phrase had two different meanings.
The first one is literal, that all papers ended.
The other one is—the results are horrible, “it’s over”.
“What’s wrong, why that troubled look?”
I was groaning in my seat since this morning, and it got Kaoru worried.
“The results for the finals are out, don’t you want to go and take a look?”
“I’m not very confident this time.”
If my usual confidence rating is 100, this time it’s only 80.
Can I overtake Mogami and take first place? I had a strange feeling.
“Don’t talk like that, come take a look with me.”
Kaoru dragged me by the hand to the announcement board in front of class 1-5.
Although Kaoru usually isn’t this forceful, there are times when he would become assertive. Mostly when I get nervous.
I looked at the notice board while being grateful to my best friend’s white fair hand. Only people in the top hundred will get their name posted on the board.
“Eita, why are you looking at the bottom?”
“No, that is—”
“Eita won’t be this low, you should start looking properly from the top.”
I made him angry.
But I have other reasons to start searching from the bottom.
Harusaki Chiwa! Eighty-eighth place!
That girl did quite well, did she finally cement herself in the top hundred?
“Chihuahua-chan is great, there’s no doubt people with high concentration can understand quite fast.”
“What are you talking about, that’s far from being good, she should at least get into the top fifty.”
Although she doesn’t need to set her goals at the highest level, to enter a university with an education department, I hope she improves herself to a higher level.
Kaoru grinned and said.
“You look really happy yourself.”
“Th—tha—that’s not the case!”
I denied his claim firmly, and went back to look for my name.
Then, it ended instantly.
The instant I saw my name back where it belongs, I was really happy.
I almost screamed out, but I held it back at the last moment.
Getting first place is a given, that’s my goal after all.
“That’s good for you, Eita.”
“Yeah, thank you,”
I think not saying “congratulations” is a natural kindness of Kaoru.
At that very moment, someone hugged me from behind.
“Takkun, you did great! Congratulations!”
Fuyuumi held my hand with both her hands, and stared at me with watery eyes.
“I, got second place.”
I raised my head and looked at the notice board, and found Fuyuumi’s name beneath mine.
Mogami Yura is eleventh place.
What’s wrong with her, did she make careless mistakes? Or did she fill the answer sheet with “Hanihaniho—”?
“To become a woman who can stand proudly beside Takkun, I was working hard in the dark. Recently Takkun has been working really hard, so I can’t lose either, because I have a dream. Did I tell Takkun about it before? Actually, I want to be like mother—”
I stopped the girl with the braided hair who passed behind Fuyuumi.
“Morning, Eita-kun, are you perhaps going to the toilet too?”
“Not the toilet! I’m here to check the results!”
Mogami exclaimed “Ah!” with a happy expression.
“So these people are not lining up for the toilet, I almost went to the second year’s toilet.”
Who cares about that, you can just go back home, your house is so close anyway.
“Let’s not talk about this, why are you eleventh place?”
“I think, might it be that my results are worse than the tenth place, but better than the twelfth?”
Uahh—. Although I can understand her words I don’t understand what she is trying to say—
Mogami took the opportunity to slip into the toilet like a ninja while I was holding my head.
“Hey, can you listen to me for a second? Hey Takkun!”
When I came to myself, Fuyuumi was tugging at my sleeve.
“So—sorry, what’s it?”
“I’m talking about something important, you should listen carefully! You know, the reason I’m working hard is because Takkun and mother’s—”
Kaoru knocked Fuyuumi’s shoulders.
“I have something to do at the school store, can you come with me?”
“Can you bother me with that later, I’m talking to Takkun now.”
“It’s fine, please, we are ‘’’childhood friends’’’ right?”
Kaoru pushed the grumbling Fuyuumi by the shoulders and walked away.
Just like what happened before, it’s rare for Kaoru to be this assertive.
I instantly understood his intentions.
I turned to the source of the voice and saw my childhood friend standing there with her right hand in the air.
Chiwa’s little right hand high-fived my own right hand.
“Slap”—a satisfying sound rang out, and we stared at each other and laughed.
Just that was enough, we don’t need any long conversations.
At that very instant, I decided our menu for the night.
My homemade hamburger steak.
Translator notes and references
- The original word was 鶏団子, it’s not exactly dumpling, but grounded chicken paste made into balls.
- Chinese cabbage.
- Shungiku in Japanese, glebionis coronaria, herb commonly used in Asian cooking.
- Sound effect from cutting
- A “savory taste”, one of the five basic tastes but still somehow don’t have a more English name.
- A hotpot made up of a lot of ingredients. Common ingredients include meat, seafood, tofu, vegetables, egg, noodles
- It’s unclear whether it’s just a school or her own school. Japanese too ambiguous with their sentence structure.
- 豚もおだてりゃ木に登る. Proverb, literally “even pigs can climb trees if you flatter them.
- In the novel the saying 臥薪嘗胆 was used, literally “sleeping on wood and tasting gallbladder”, originated from China, in where the son of a defeated king, in order to not forget the shame of defeat, slept on wood every night and hung the gallbladder of a bear, as the bitterness rekindles his vengeance. He ended up defeating the enemy. It’s used to represent enduring hardship.
- Betsubara, Japanese has the concept of a stomach specially made to store dessert.
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