Of course, both Senjougahara-san and I had planned on attending our lessons today, but just before we left, Senjougahara-san realized that, thanks to her superfluous lie the day before, or in other words, her claim that she had influenza, she could not go to school for a week.
“So this is what ‘by schemes are schemers drowned’ means.”
So she said, but I wonder, because from my perspective, it seemed something more comical along the lines of drowning while trying to practice your strokes on dry land.
“Now I’ve got to stay quiet at home for a week… Why did it come to this? It feels like being put under house arrest even when you’ve done nothing wrong.”
Although I called it a comical development, to the victim Senjougahara-san herself this appeared to be a serious situation and she looked very stressed, though seeing as lying was in and of itself a bad thing, this was probably within the scope of ‘reaping what you sow’.
And similar to ‘hoisted by your own petard’ as well.
“Father will be so angry with me…”
She, a third-year in senior high, was afraid of her father being angry with her.
Oh, that’s adorable.
“But Araragi-kun isn’t coming to school for a while, either, so this is just about right, isn’t it?”
When I tried saying this, not so much as a source of comfort but out of in fact sarcasm,
she quickly stopped clutching her head.
Idiot couples truly are horrifying.
Thus, I went to school by myself — as I had expected, when I got there, a storm of questions was waiting for me.
It couldn’t be helped for there to be some degree of curiosity or spectator spirit among them, so I was just happy that everyone from the class would worry for me like this.
Lessons began today.
Flipping through the textbooks that I had borrowed from Senjougahara-san “because I won’t need them for a week anyway”, I ruminated on what Senjougahara-san had said this morning.
“I had thought that a clever person like you, Hanekawa-san, would find the world very bland, you know — you already know so much, so I thought, maybe you wouldn’t ever feel excitement or anticipation, but perhaps that was only half-correct, and half-mistaken. There was no guarantee that we had the same interpretation of the term ‘bland’. Yes, my assumption had been incorrect in the first place.”
I never imagined that someone like that could exist, said Senjougahara-san — someone who felt no aversion towards the tedious or even the outright impermissible.
Of course, I objected in a hurry.
“Oh, no, I’ve never thought the world was bland before. I don’t like tedious things, and if something is impermissible, I think it’s wrong.”
“I wonder. It feels to me as though you’re saying that just for the sake of saying it — just thinking it.”
However, Senjougahara-san did not accept my explanation.
“I have thought about this before, you know. The difference between you and Araragi-kun — both of you are so eager to sacrifice yourself for the sake of someone else, but from where I stand, it would seem that the two of you are completely different — to the point that you are not alike at all. To put it simply, Araragi-kun appears to be an imposter, while you are the real original. The things that you do are the same, so I wondered why this was — but, after tasting this cooking, I think I understand now.”
“It does seem like a certain cooking manga, though, to know someone’s nature by tasting their cooking.”
“Why did you name it right after avoiding it?”
“You and Araragi-kun, your perceptions of danger are different. For example, if by the road there was the body of a cat ran over by a car — certainly, the act of burying it would be correct. I believe that that is what you would do, and perhaps Araragi-kun would do so as well, grumbling about something or other as he did.”
“I’m sure, however, that the difference is that he would ‘grumble’ — if you were to ask why so many people had ignored the dead cat, passing by as though they saw nothing, then why, because burying it would be ‘dangerous’, of course. It poses a great risk, being known to be a ‘good person’ by other members of human society — the likelihood of being taken advantage of is extremely high.”
Although children would purposely act worse than they truly were, feeling that ‘doing good things is embarrassing’, the reason is not ’embarrassment’, but because goodness can only be a weak point, a weakness against the ubiquitous ‘malice’ in the world — said Senjougahara-san in a halting way.
She laid out her own unique pet theory.
“Araragi-kun probably understands that acting badly is the safe thing to do — he understands how much he risks by being a ‘good person’. He has repeated his acts as an ally of justice so very many times, understanding the likelihood of death, or at best, the likelihood of losing out. That’s how he was in middle school, and that’s how he has been in high school. That was the cause of him failing at school, but he must have understood the risk of getting this result beforehand. He did it while understanding all of this… well, I doubt his grasp of the situation allowed him to predict his own death and rebirth during spring break, of course.”
At that time — he felt regret.
It was no mistake that Araragi-kun had felt regret for the actions he had taken — however,
it was no mistake that he faced that regret.
That was, unmistakably, just as what Senjougahara-san said.
Compared to him, I
“Compared to him, you don’t understand it at all — or perhaps that’s wrong. Even you must understand that risks exist. And yet you think nothing of them — that is, most likely, the gist of the matter. You regret nothing. You act in defiance of all things malicious and impermissible. Or rather, you have accepted it all. I imagine all of that could perhaps be heard as some expression on how incredible you appear to be, but this is utterly different. I have always had the utmost respect for you, Hanekawa-san — but now, that feeling has disappeared in an instant.”
In truth, as Senjougahara-san talked — nothing she said felt like praise to me.
I did not feel, even in the slightest of ways, that those were words of utmost praise.
In fact, Senjougahara-san was —
As she had been when she found me sleeping in those ruins this morning — or perhaps even more so.
“It shocks me how you can even tell me that my cooking’s delicious, with senses like those. That was more horrible than Araragi-kun, and he doesn’t even bother pretending to be happy.”
“For example, Hanekawa-san. What do you think of my livelihood?”
Senjougahara-san spread her arms, drawing attention to Room 201 of Warren Villa.
“What do you think of my lifestyle? Of our unstable family of father and child living in a dingy one-room flat, my only salvation being not the bathtub but a shower that sometimes has no hot water, our kitchen actually being very meager with only a single stove, and the breaker going off if I so much as use a dryer while the washing machine is running?”
“What do I think…?”
“You think nothing of it, yes? You don’t feel pity or disgust, yes? Yes, I’m sure that’s very splendid. Provided that we are in some sort of novel or comic book — or, if this were perhaps the story of some great historical figure, then it would be absolutely wonderful. I may even feel inspired. But you are a real human being, Hanekawa-san. Did you know that?”
Although she had continued in her flat tone of voice — it felt as though she was holding herself back with great effort, and if she were not careful, her wording would become harsher.
“After all, as the person concerned, I consider this lifestyle to be the absolute worst. Feeling that this is infinitely closer to living as a true human being compared to when I lived in a manor before my parents divorced — I’ve never once had any such flashes of enlightenment. Do you know, I’ve never once thought that living in poverty would make me closer to becoming a human being? In fact, I think that poverty dulls the wit. And Father, he is working his hardest in order to settle our debts and break us out from our life here. He works with such abandon that it would be no surprise if he broke down eventually — all of this is because of the sense of danger that he feels, that this cannot be allowed to continue.”
But you have no such sense of danger, said Senjougahara-san.
“You recognize that it is currently present, but you have no sense of the danger, not in the slightest. That was why you could spend an entire night in those ruins.”
“But if you put it that way…”
That was weak.
I could not object, even had I wanted to.
“Perhaps you are simply too pure — as white as innocence itself. You do not understand your own heartlessness in condoning foolishness before a fool of a man, nor your cruelty in condoning inadequacy before a failure of a person — much less realize that it is nothing but spite to refer to defects as virtues. You do not understand at all that affirming the negative is something that cannot be undone. You cannot simply accept everything. If you do so, no one would bother exerting themselves. The desire to improve and advance would be lost — and yet, you have no wariness for foolish or impermissible things at all. Without thinking, you run along performing your good deeds, even though you know that you will be taken advantange of, and you treat it as logical when you become the maverick amongst the group. Can anything be so terrifying? Living on the cliff’s edge like that, it’s a wonder you managed to survive so far with all your limbs attached, and for that alone I will admire you. In summary, you are not a good person, nor are you a saint or some Holy Mother — you are simply dim to the darkness. In that case… you are a failure as a living creature.”
As it was the first time I had ever been called that, I felt slightly depressed as well.
In the end, as it was time for school, our talk came to a close at around that point, but along the way, and even now during my lessons, Senjougahara-san’s words endlessly reverberated within my mind.
You are not a good person, but simply dim to the darkness.
Dim to the darkness.
Failure, failure, failure — in other words,
White as innocence itself.
Bright white — and brazen lies.
…It was just, in terms of my present situation of attending my lessons, it was an undeniable feeling that all those words had become an exercise in futility, as my attention was drawn to the sketches Senjougahara-san had done in the blank spaces in her textbooks.
Every page had an illustration of Hagaren on it.
They were ridiculously good, too.
And she’s a high-schooler about to go into university?