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When my fourth birthday was near, I told my parents at the dinner table.
“Can’t I get a blank book for my birthday this year?” (Yuri)
This was the first time I asked things from my parents. They were surprised for a moment, and then, they looked at me with a slightly troubled face.
“Yuri, what do you want to do with it?” (Rook)
“It’s like a diary… I want to write down what I think.” (Yuri)
“Is that so? Are you able to read and write now?” (Rook)
“Of course, he can. I have nothing to teach him anymore.” (Suzuya)
Actually, I could hardly learn anything more than the national language teacher, Suzuya. But that didn’t mean my language learning was perfect.
Suzuya was a woman from a farming family, and it was said that she married Rook in the form of love marriage. It was surprising when Rook was at the end of a noble family. Suzuya, who was raised by a farmer, could read and write a little, but if it was compared to the education level in Japan, she had the ability to graduate from an elementary school.
She was at the level where one could write her own name, could easily read the sign on the road and circular notice that came occasionally. Since Rook came from a noble family, there were books like legal books and books on simple history, but Suzuya couldn’t read those books written in difficult words.
Leaving that aside, the reason why I wanted a blank book was, of course, not to write a diary. I wanted to make a note the knowledge of the previous life when I was in Japan, so that I wouldn’t forget it.
“Please. I don’t need a birthday gift next year and the year after that, so please buy me that.” (Yuri)
I bowed my head deeply.
“You probably don’t know about this, but books are pretty expensive.” (Rook)
I felt that Rook had entered the sermon mode peculiar to a father with that tone of voice.
In that situation, I was confined to be a Yes Man while taking an auspicious attitude.
“I don’t mind buying it. But it is different from toys. So, it’s not worth buying if you make it like a sketchbook.” (Rook)
That was exactly what Rook was saying. The paper in this country wasn’t Japanese paper or Western paper. It was parchment paper. Parchment paper was made by scraping the skin of animals.
The skin could be sold as it was, but for parchment paper, the fur was removed, and scrapped until thin. Then, it was cut and sold in that way. Needless to say, it was a product that took time and effort, but a book bundled with it must also be expensive.
I didn’t know the actual price, but speaking in Japanese yen, it should be around 40 to 50 thousand yen. Of course, it saved labor of writing letters as a book. However, even if it was blank sheet, the cost should be around 30 thousands, and that was still expensive. It was different from buying the console of video game.
Where could one find a parent who would buy a four year old child that seemed to be useless to them and also very expensive? Even if I said that I was going to keep it as a diary, it was normal to think that it would be a picture diary of a kindergartener. If that was the case, it was probably better to write it on a wooden board. However, I wanted it by all means.
“Dear, let’s buy it for him. Yuri always help with the housework. It’s the first time he asks for something.” (Suzuya)
Suzuya-okaasan made a nice follow up.
‘Say some more.’
“Even so, a book is about 4000 Ruga, you know.” (Rook)
“Eh… that much?” (Suzuya)
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Suzuya was surprised. It might be a bit understated, but yes, she was surprised. She made a surprising face.
I didn’t know the monetary value of 4000 Ruga.
“Aah. That’s why, if I’m going to pay that amount, I can buy a bunch of toys. That’s how much it worth.” (Rook)
“I thought about a lot of things, so the toys are good.” (Suzuya)
I didn’t need toys or something like that. In any case, it was like a building block.
“I’ll do anything to help in the house, so please. I’ll never waste it.” (Yuri)
I refused to back down.
“Are you sure?” (Rook)
“Yes, definitely.” (Yuri)
I showed a serious expression with all my might. Even so, since I had a face of a child, it didn’t look impressive.
“Alright… well then, keep helping your mother. And from now on, you need to help me with the work of the ranch. If you promise this, I’ll buy it.” (Rook)
“Really? I promise.” (Yuri)
I gave an OK immediately. Now that I’d learned majority of the words, it would be a spare time even if I stay at home.
Rook held out his right hand in a fist.
‘What’s that? Is he planning to give a handshake?’
“Hmm? …What is that?” (Yuri)
“I’ll tell you how to make a promise between men. Give me your fist.” (Rook)
I took a fist as I was told.
Rook beat the top and bottom of my fist that I held vertically. Lastly, he attached the fists together tightly.
“Open your hand.” (Rook)
As he resolved his fist and opened his hand, I imitated him. I thought that we were going to shake hands, but Rook grabbed my wrist.
I tried to hold Rook’s wrist, but my hand was too small to do so.
“Pull me all the way here.” (Rook)
As Rook said that, he lightly pulled my hand. I also reflexively pulled back.
“Do you get that? Let’s do it again.” (Rook)
Now that I understood the sequence, the strange handshake with fist striking was done smoothly this time.
‘Is there such a custom? I see, it is a formal and much odorous handshake with a man compared to pinky swear.’
When Rook grabbed my wrist tightly, I noticed a warm feeling swelling out from my chest. I felt that I shouldn’t break this promise.
“It is said if you break the promise, you will no longer have the pride. If you think it as a simple thing, don’t do it, alright?” (Rook)
“I understand.” (Yuri)
‘I’ll keep that in mind.’
“You said that this is done among men, so I can’t do it with women?” (Yuri)
When I casually asked, Rook watched me while looking startled for a bit. Then, for some reason, he awkwardly looked at Suzuya. She was smiling with a calm face.
“It’s unreasonable.” (Suzuya)
“Is that so?” (Yuri)
Perhaps, it felt like fooling around.
“This is a knot that can be done between men, between women, and between a man and a woman. You absolutely can’t do the knot between a man and a woman except at a wedding.” (Suzuya)
“I understand.” (Yuri)
Was it a kind of thing that was more problematic that premarital relation? Perhaps, it was a custom to perform it, or something like having affair with women working in the sex industry. It was said to be very problematic, so I guessed I would lose the social trust. If I did that, the gentle Suzuya-okaasan would beat me with a full swing.
“It’s alright, I will absolutely not going to do that.” (Yuri)
“Yes. I promise.” (Yuri)
“It’s alright. As long as you understand that you can’t do this with half-hearted feeling.” (Suzuya)
Suzuya said it with a gentle voice. I felt that tone of voice wasn’t worrying about me even slightest, but on the contrary, I became uneasy.
‘Either way, I’m not a trash.’
“I-I see.” (Yuri)
“Leaving that aside, I have to go to the imperial capital if I want to book, you know? Shall I bring him next time?” (Rook)
“Eh, capital is it?” (Yuri)
“It’s the first time Yuri ask for a thing. I’m sure it’s something he wants very much. In that case, it’s better to let him to choose by himself. It will be sad if you buy something that is not good, and he will be disappointed.” (Suzuya)
‘Nice follow up.’
“That’s true, it could be a good opportunity for Yuri to see the capital… I have to deliver an Eagle King next week, so shall we go at that time?” (Rook)
‘Seriously? That is a welcoming news.’
“…I’m very happy. Thank you very much.” (Yuri)
My cheek were loosened with joy.
When the parent looked at the face of their own child, they smiled softly.
- Watch this video to understand why parchment paper is expensive.
- This video tells you about Japanese or Washi paper.
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