Forbidden Red Wine, Plot Summary

Forbidden Red Wine

By Hyogo Kurouchi (= Shinya Murase), 2021

 Plot Summary

(A romantic mystery with many twists and turns)

Part I 

Chapter 1: The Birth of a Venus

Baden-Baden, south Germany, located at the edge of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), in early summer of 2008. This town was established by the Emperor Caracalla in the ancient Roman period, and is famous as a hot-spring resort. The whole city looks like a big park with casinos, theaters and restaurants. It is said that sometimes demons come down here to make some people unhappy. Nobody has heard of an angel coming down here to make people happy. (Dostoyevsky was one of those who suffered by a demon: He lost all his money at the casino and had to flee from the city in the darkness of the night with his new bride Aanya. That was more than one hundred years ago.)

Yuichi Katsura, 48 years old, came here, not for casinos but for an international conference. He was asked to give the keynote speech at the general meeting of the European Association of Plasma Spectroscopy held in Baden-Baden. Yuichi is a physicist and works for a big company producing liquid crystal panels used for television sets and computers. He is the vice president of the company and is in charge of research and development. He finished the conference yesterday, and decided to spend a few days with his lawyer friend, Kengo Shiraishi, who was Yuichi’s classmate from their junior high school days. Shiraishi has been a very capable lawyer for Yuichi’s company, always winning in litigations. His pleading style in courts was very aggressive. Once he defended the intellectual property rights of Yuichi’s invention against a Lebanese company, and afterwards, there was a rumor that the result of the litigation seriously damaged the opponent’s company.

Shiraishi says that he is helping some European business companies which have been wrongly suspected by the US for money laundering for terrorist groups. He seems to be well informed about international terrorism. He says that “the 20th century was a century of wars, but the 21st century is the century of terrorism”.   

Both stayed in the same hotel, Hotel Epoch. They decided to “experience” the hot-spring bath together, and went to the famous Friedrichsbad. When they came close to the bath, Shiraishi’s telephone rang. He apologized to Yuichi that he had to go to Frankfurt, because his client was in trouble and needed his immediate help. So, Yuichi was left alone but decided, though reluctantly, to go into .the bath-hall

There were a series of different baths in the Friedrichbad, such as mist bath, water-fall bath and so forth. Then, there was a swimming pool type of large bath which resembled the Japanese public bath. There was nobody else, and Yuichi enjoyed dipping himself in the huge bath very much. He closed his eyes and tried to forget everything. All of the sudden to his surprise, the water rose in front of him, and the next moment, there emerged from the water, a young girl, naked, like the birth of Venus. She looked surprised too, uttered “Oh” and swam to the other direction, disappearing in the mist. Yuichi did not look at her face, because his eyes were naturally on the lower parts of her body, her breasts and the triangular zone, etc. After taking bath, he felt very tired, and fell asleep in the resting room.

Completely recovered after the nap from exhaustion from the long bath-taking, he came out of the Friedrichbad. He found a café nearby, and entered. On his coming into the café, the waitress asked him: “a glass of beer?” He said, “No, anything but beer”. She said, “Oh, I thought all Japanese people like beer. Perhaps, they have changed. The young lady there also declined beer.” Yuichi looked at the “young lady”, finding that she was the Venus, with that triangular part, who emerged from the water in that large bath! She invited him to her table. He asked the waitress the local wine, Baden, for his drink. Then the girl said, “Wine is the divine product, while beer is the human product, right?” He was touched by the smart words that she said.

They introduced themselves. Her name was Mina Masaike. He said that he was 42 years old, and was a company executive. She said that she had just graduated from Harvard, and she was 21. He said that he had also studied science at Harvard some 20 years ago and so the two were graduates of the same university! He apologized that he was actually 48 years old. She also apologized that she was actually 24 years old. They felt close to each other….

They shook hands. Yuichi said, “Oh we are like foreigners, shaking hands”. Mina said “I am a half foreigner. I am mixed-blood of Iranian father and Japanese mother, though my father died when I was in high school, some 8 years ago”. She said that, since her father was a businessman working both in Tokyo and Singapore, she spent two years at an international high school in Singapore, but, apart from that, she was raised by her mother, quite a traditional type of Japanese lady, so that Mina’s mentality was purely Japanese.    

They decided to go up to the old chateau nearby after lunch. When they reached the highest point of the hill, there was a beautiful sunset beyond the Black Forest. Yuichi was surprised when Mina suddenly started weeping in seeing the sunset. She apologized, and explained that her friend had killed himself after being interrogated by police in the US for having lent some money to his Arab friend, whom the police suspected as a terrorist.

When they returned to the parking lot where their taxi was waiting, there was a suspicious black sedan, in which there were two men.

They decided to have dinner together. Yuichi reserved a table at the best restaurant in town, Restaurant Charlemagne, thinking that this was the first, and probably the last, opportunity to have a dinner with such a young girl like Mina. He wore a tuxedo. Mina said that she had never dated a man in a tuxedo. Like 007, she said he should have a pistol, “or perhaps a razer gun”, and she looked as though she had made a mistake. Yuichi said that he needed no weapon, as he had learned Karate during his junior and senior high school days. During their first dinner, Mina was delightful. She said she had worked for a wine shop during her college days and has a license of a wine expert. She chose the white wine of Corton Charlemagne. She explained that Emperor Charlemagne in the 9th century had an excellent wine yard which produced both red and white wines. One evening, when he was drinking the red wine, he spilled the wine, turning his beard red in color. The maids teased him, “Oh, the Emperor’s beard looks like the tail of a red horse!”. The emperor became very angry and prohibited the production of red wine in his vineyard. Thus, no red wine has been produced ever since.

            Over the dinner, they talked about their personal life. Yuichi is single, never married, though he lived together with an American girl when he was at Harvard some 20 years ago, but it did not work well, and since then, he was too busy with his work to get married. Mina had a nice boyfriend named Michael Hamil at Harvard until recently, but finding that he was a gay, they decided to be good friends.

Yuichi asked her to go to Black Forest by car tomorrow. He was not sure whether it was appropriate to ask for a date with such a young girl, and he was ready to withdraw if it was turned down. To his joy, his request was accepted by her! He also asked Mina whether she would be interested in watching an opera, which she also agreed to.

Chapters 2: Black Forest

            The next day, they drove through the Black Forest. They found a restaurant for lunch. The chef said that they would have to wait for half an hour. So, they strolled in the wood before lunch. Mina found mushrooms which looked like precious matsutake (pine) mushrooms. The chef said that they were deadly poisonous. Mina apologized in tears: “I almost killed you!” Yuichi said: “I would not mind double suicide with you.” They laughed, and this incident brought them closer.

            Mina said that she wanted to work for UNEP or an NGO to help the third world, and actually she was heading to London for an interview with an NGO in a few days. Yuichi said that he is now facing a turning point of his life. His career as a scientist is coming to close to the end. He said, stimulated by Mina, that he might like to work for the third world, perhaps at the Rift Valley area of Africa (present-day Kenya and Tanzania border), where his first ancestor was born some 50,000 years ago. His company produces solar panels which can be used to produce electricity to dug up underground water to farms.

           They watched “Hamlet” at the Festival Opera House (Festspielhaus) of Baden-Baden in the evening. This opera version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was magnificent, with Ophelia playing the central role in the opera. Hamlet pretends to have gone crazy in order to achieve revenge for his father king who had been killed by his uncle, now the king, and his mother, who has married the new king. Ophelia’s father Polonius, worried about his daughter, was hiding behind a tapestry, listening to the Hamlet’s conversation with his mother. Believing that the person hiding behind the tapestry was the current king who had murdered his father, Hamlet stabs him with his sword through the fabric, killing Polonius. In the aftermath of her father’s death, Ophelia goes mad with grief and drowns in the river. Hamlet’s mother concocts a plan to use the desire of Laertes, brother of Ophelia, for revenge to secure Hamlet’s death. Laertes will fence with Hamlet in innocent sport, but the king will poison Laertes’ blade so that if he draws blood, Hamlet will die. As a backup plan, the king decides to poison a goblet, which he will give Hamlet to drink should Hamlet score the first or second hits of the match. Hamlet’s mother dies from taking a drink from the poisoned goblet. Hamlet stabs the king with the poisoned blade, forcing him to drink down the poisoned wine. Both Hamlet and Laertes die by wounds from the poisoned blade. Hamlet asks his good friend, Horatio, to tell this tragic story to the world. Both Mina and Yuichi were deeply moved by the opera. When they came back to the hotel, they decided to drive to Heidelberg the next day. 

Chapters 3: Memories of Love: After the Sudden Torrential Rainfall  

            They had lunch at Heidelberg. After lunch, when they came out from the restaurant, it started to rain on the sudden. They rushed into the car. Yuichi started to the car and drove off from the parking lot, but he thought driving the car in such hard rain might be dangerous, and came back to the parking lot. Then, there was a black sedan with two male persons which took off in a hurry as if they had been chasing somebody. Yuichi uttered “what reckless drivers!”. Then, there was loud thunder, and Mina screamed. Yuichi held her gently. After the thunders, heavy icy rain was falling. The two held each other tight, and they were united for the first time.

            When they came back to the Hotel Epoch, Mina, bumped into a boy at the entrance, shouted in surprise, “Michael!”. She said angrily, “What are you doing here?”. Michael looked troubled, but he said, “I am travelling with a friend of mine”, but he did not introduce his friend, who looked like somebody from an Arab country. Michael said, “Are you going to London? I am going there too, and we may see each other there”. Mina replied in angry tone, “No, I am not going to see you. We are finished now!” 

Mina told Yuichi that she would come to his room in 30 minutes, but she did not come. He called her by phone, and she sounded troubled, saying that she would leave him. Yuichi decided to go to her room, he noticed that Michael had just left Mina’s room. Mina told Yuichi that Michael demanded her not to see Yuichi, which Mina said that she had refused. She asked Yuichi to wait for her in his room, as she would come in 30 minutes.

            While waiting for Mina, Yuichi was determined that, if she came, he would accept what she was, and if she did not, he would go back to Tokyo immediately. When Mina came to his room, he thought that his destiny had become definite, whatever it might be. 

She came and he held her tight. She asked him to take her dress off, which he did. He found that she did not have any underwear on. She said, “I wanted to show my determination to you, and to myself”. 

            Yuichi ordered room service for dinner, including “Chateau La Mission Haut Brion” for wine, which Mina praised Yuichi for his wonderful choice, most appropriate for their romantic night. 

            The following day, they went out to buy Mina’s clothes at little fancy stores of Baden-Baden. When they came back, the German police intruded into Yuichi’s room. It was apparently a mistake on the part of the police. Yuichi was very angry and demanded the Hotel Epoch to find him rooms for him and Mina at the nearby Park Hotel.

            Both were shocked by the incident and needed a strong wine to overcome the shock. Mina recommended the Hungarian Wine, Egri Bikaver, explaining that, in the 16th century, when Hungary was invaded by Moslem forces, the Hungarian soldiers were served by the king of Egri with this red wine which was rumored that it was mixed with bulls’ blood. The invading Turkish soldiers were so afraid by the Hungarian soldiers with their mouths colored by red blood-looking stains. Mina painted her lips with red lip-stick and declared: “Tonight we will fight to death!”

            The following day, they asked for a car with a chauffeur to take them to the Elm River in the Black Forest. The wine Mina selected for lunch was Est, Est, Est. The chef asked Mina jokingly: “Is it OK that you may die if you take this wine?” Mina said “Yes, that’s what we want.” Yuichi was puzzled. She explained that, according to the legend, in 1111, the knight Fugger was to travel to Rome. He sent his servant Martino to go a few days earlier to check the local wines, and instructed him to write “Est” (Latin word meaning “there is”) on the wall of the winehouse so that Fugger could enjoy the best wine on his way. When he arrived at Montefiascone, he saw the sign saying “Est! Est!, Est!”. The wine was so good that he drank too much of it, and died. After lunch, they strolled around the wood. The effect of the wine Est, Est, Est was apparent.

            After coming back to the hotel, they had a nap, and in the evening, they dined at the hotel restaurant. The chef recommended Mina promised that she would be as sexual and obscene as possible. So, Yuichi asked Mina to show her breasts between the courses of the dinner, which she did, but she was a second late before the waiter came to their table. The boy suddenly became frozen. Mina gave Yuichi a present, a small box in which there was a fountain pen. He asked Mina to put her love honey on the cap of the pen, which she did. He told her not to wipe off the honey, and put the fountain pen back to the box.

            After dinner, they decided to try the Casino, famous for Baden-Baden. They made a promise that if one of them lost earlier than the other, the former could request anything. Yuichi was the one who lost first. Mina asked, “So, what is your request? Don’t’ tell me that you want my life!” He said he wanted to shave off her bottom hair. She agreed, and the hair of her triangular part was shaved off. X- rated scenes.

Chapters 4: Forbidden Red Wine

            The final night. Mina wanted to go to the Restaurant Charlemagne again. The chef recommended the Red wine of Charlemagne. Mina said, “there is no red wine of Charlemagne, as Emperor Charlemagne ordered not to produce red wine!”. The chef replied, “Yes, officially so. But, you know, there is always an unofficial side of the story. The workers of the chateau believed that wine was the product of God, which even the Emperor could not change. They continued producing forbidden red wine for generations. They produced red wine in exchange for their lives. If you drink this wine, you will proceed to what is beyond forbidden.” Yuichi gave her his present, a ring with a diamond. Mina was overwhelmed. The two were engaged.

            The next morning, Yuichi and Mina came to the Frankfurt airport from Baden-Baden. Yuichi wanted her to come with him to Tokyo, but Mina insisted that she should go to London, otherwise, it would be too impolite to her professor at Harvard who had recommended her to be interviewed by this NGO. She said, “I will come back to Tokyo to marry you in five days!”

Part II

Chapter 5: Severed Communication  

Yuichi now deeply regretted that he had not been able to persuade Mina to come back to Tokyo with him. He thought that he should have brought her back even if a rope was needed on her neck!

After coming back to Tokyo, the first thing he did was to go to the city office and get the form necessary for marriage registration. He then went to see Lawyer Shiraishi and explained what had happened to him in Baden-Baden. Shiraishi was surprised and expressed concern. He said: “Wasn’t it a bit too hasty? You know that nowadays in Brazil there are a lot of cases of ‘Tsunami Girls”. A young girl comes to a wealthy old man with overwhelming charm like a tsunami, and after marriage, they leave the old men with all his property without leaving anything behind, also like a tsunami.” He was of course joking and congratulated his old friend, Yuichi. 

However, Mina did not come back even after five days. Yuichi was worried. He asked Shiraishi for help, who, using a private detective agent, investigated Mina’s family. There was no fallacy about Mina. Her mother is in a mental hospital, but a lawyer takes good care of the family since Mina’s father left certain property by which Mina and her mother can live comfortably. It was also found that Mina received the Laylin Prize for her excellent master’s thesis from Harvard University this year. Yuichi sent emails to Mina, only to find the warning that “this email address has a permanent fatal error.” Deeply concerned, Yuichi tendered resignation from his company.

Shiraishi made further investigation through his sister law firm in London. He was surprised to learn that Mina checked in at a hotel with Michael and others, some of whom the British government seems to be suspicious of a terrorist group. Yuichi of course did not believe it. Then, a few days later, there was a BBC news informing that an Iranian girl named Mina Mashaiki (Iranian name, and not Masaike, a Japanese name) was shot to death by the police in London for having been suspected for a terrorist bomber. Yuichi said that she could not have been Mina. Yuichi and Shiraishi rushed to London, and went to the Scotland Yard, the Police Headquarters in London. Yuichi demanded to see the body of the girl who had been shot by the police, as he said that he was her fiancé.

Lieutenant Wood of the London Police said that the girl’s nationality was Iranian from her passport, and not Japanese, which he asked Yuichi to agree. Yuichi insisted that he had to see the body first. He was taken to the mortuary inside the police headquarters. Yuichi watched the necrophilia at the entrance of the room, and then rushed to the table where the girl was lying. He touched her hair, wailing. He was taken back to his hotel, and the following day, he came back to Tokyo.

In London, Yuichi did not go anywhere but there was a wine shop next to his hotel, where he bought the 1984 bottle of Chateau Calon Segur with a heart mark on the label. The year 1984 was when Mina was borne, and the bottle had been in the dark wine seller for 24 long years.

A few days later, in Tokyo, Yuichi said to Shiraishi that the girl was not Mina, which he realized already when he saw the body from the entrance. Shiraishi asked “How did you know?”. Yuichi replied: “It was obvious, because the girl had the hair in her bottom, while Mina did not have it, as I had shaved it off”. I also had the girl’s hair tested for DNA with Mina’s love honey left on the cap of the fountain pen that she had given me as a present, finding that the girl was entirely a different person from Mina.” He said: “I am so glad that Mina is still alive somewhere.”

Chapter 6: Unhappy Reunion

Mina was alive. Yuichi finally received an email from Mina. Her message was as follows: “After having said goodbye to you at the Frankfurt airport, I went to the airline counter to check-in for London. Then, the airline staff said that I had no reservation since the ticket had been mistakenly given to somebody else. They told me that I could get the new reservation only two days later. I was furious and told them that my interview with the NGO office was scheduled the next day. They gave me some amount of compensation. I sent an email to the NGO office, apologizing for missing the interview for reasons beyond my control. I wanted to come back to Tokyo, but because of the high season, there was no ticket for Tokyo for a few days. Then, I noticed that there was the Singapore Airline counter, which said a ticket was available later that day. So, I decided to come to Singapore, hoping to find a ticket for Tokyo at Singapore. When I was on board of the airplane, I noticed that I had left my computer somewhere at the Frankfurt airport in confusion, and so I was not able to send an email to you. I recalled that there was a famous NGO in Singapore name OASIS, and I decided to stay there for a few days. When I visited OASIS office, even though I had not have any prior appointment, they offered me to be an intern for some ten days, which I accepted. I did not have much money with me, and I was not able to buy a computer. You did not give me your phone number. So, I called your company, only to be told that you had already quitted the company. I am sorry that I have not been able to get in touch with you. I finally got this computer today with the money given by OASIS. I am now visiting my old friend, Mrs. Tan, who was a house keeper during the time when our family lived in Singapore. I will see you in three days!” Mina did not go to London. She was alive. Yuichi was overwhelmed with joy.

Mina finally came back. Coming back to Tokyo, however, Mina appeared as an entirely a different person. She did not dare to look straight at Yuichi. Something might have happened, but Yuichi was not able to even speculate what went wrong. Yuichi explained that, deeply worried about her, he and Shiraishi went to London. Mina said angrily: “I did not go to London! If you don’t trust me, see here the entry records of my passport!” Yuichi did not know what to say, but he decided that, since Mina was now safely back, he would not question. But, when he asked if she could still marry him, she said “yes”, and so their marriage was soon registered. They decided to have a big wedding party after they come back from their honeymoon, and she would move in into his house then. Mina looked enthusiastic about the preparation for setting up an NPO for greening Africa, and hired two accountants for the job. Yuichi’s plan was to invest most of his property for this project.

Chapter 7: Betrayed Honeymoon and Ophelia’s Sorrow

             Yuichi and Mina came to Kenya for their honeymoon at Lake Nakuru, the Lift Valley area where Yuichi’s first ancestor was to have been born some 50,000 years ago. Mina did not want to share a bed with Yuichi until they arrived at Nakuru. She said she wanted to do so in the car like they did at Heidelberg. So, Yuichi went to a car rental shop. When he tried to pay for the car, there was a problem. His credit cards were rejected for lack of funds, which was unbelievable. Yuichi came back to the hotel, but Mina was gone. The hotel personnel said that she had left the hotel soon after Yuichi left for the car rental shop. She had arranged in advance a private plane to go to Nairobi. He called his Bank in Tokyo, and found that all the money was withdrawn by Mina. He was totally confused. Why in the world did Mina do this to him?

            A few hours later, he received an email from Mina: “Sorry that I missed the driving. I am now at Nairobi and I am leaving you for good. You remember that, in Singapore, I went to see Mrs. Tan who took care of our family affairs. She gave me a note left by my father before his death. From the note, I realized that the cause of his death, suicide, was the court case that you and your lawyer had against my father’s Lebanese company on intellectual property. My father was bitterly condemned by your lawyer, which caused his serious depression, leading to his suicide. My mother became mentally sick. Our family suffered so much, and I will not forgive you. I will receive your money as part of the compensation. The opera Hamlet we watched at the Festival Hall of Baden-Baden was quite impressive now. Unlike Ophelia, I cannot escape to madness, and I have no brother like Laertes, I have had to take revenge  by myself.”

            Yuichi laughed aloud. He was amazed how Mina managed all these things without being noticed. Now, he understands. It is fine for him that she takes all the money, as he was going to give it to her anyway. However, it was unbearable that he was betrayed by Mina. It was midnight. Yuichi was so depressed. He walked out of the hotel, and tried to find some place to die. 

Chapter 8: Epilogue, Looking for the Light

Shiraishi received a phone call before dawn from the hotel in Nakuru, Kenya, to be informed of Yuichi’s hospitalization in Kenya. Shiraishi came to Nakuru almost at once. Yuichi was found unconscious by the hotel personnel some hours later after he had walked away from the hotel, and was immediately hospitalized. When he woke up, he realized that his suicide attempt did not succeed, and he was overcome by self-hatred. Gradually, however, he came to recover. Shiraishi said to Yuichi, “You see, she was a typical ‘tsunami girl’!”. A few days later, he was released from the hospital and Shiraishi brought him back to Tokyo. 

            Yuichi received a phone call from his Bank, informing him that all the money that had been previously drawn out was now returned to his account. He was confused again. He then found an email from Mina. “Something happened to me, and I now realize that I was wrong. I have taken the necessary procedure to transfer back all your money to your Bank account.” What happened to Mina? Her confession followed, which was the most unbelievable story to Yuichi.

“I joined a secret study group on the Islamic world in Boston about two years ago. The leader was Mr. Yaseen, a young intellectual from Egypt, who was arrested by the police just because he lent a small amount of money to his friend who had been suspected as a terrorist sympathizer. Yaseen killed himself. He committed suicide in order to protect our secrecy. This incident changed our group to more activist and dangerous. We came to think that we needed enough fund and weapons to fight. Somebody mentioned that you would be a good target for kidnapping, as you might have the knowledge to develop razer weapons, and your rich company could pay a large amount of ransom. I was assigned to play a leading role in your abduction. So, I appeared naked before you in the Friedrich bath. I assumed that you would come to the café after taking the bath, and indeed you came, exactly as I had expected. I was informed that kidnapping would take place at Heidelberg after lunch, but due to the sudden torrential rainfall, our members lost our sight.

I had just been following the instructions from the group, but after Heidelberg, I fell in love with you. You were my first man. I became determined to protect you from our group. So, I made an anonymous telephone call to the police, which raided into your room in the hotel, and the group’s plan had to be cancelled at that point. I knew I would be tortured and penalized by the group, but it did not matter. After I saw you off at the Frankfurt airport, I went to the British Airway counter, where I met Michael. He said that an Iranian girl had used my ticket for London, and that I should immediately leave Europe in order to escape the group’s sanction. He saved my life. Those five days at Baden-Baden were the best time of my life, which I would never forget. Thank you.”

Yuichi tried to find the whereabout of Mina, but there was no clue to find her. Concerned about Yuichi who was so desperate, Shiraishi suggested to him to find a hobby or something just to forget about Mina even for a moment, and showed a pamphlet of a painting school, which Yuichi started attending. All the paintings he drew tended to look like Mina. In drawing portraits, he had the red wine of Chateau Clerc Milon. The etiquette of the bottle carried a painting of the owner of the vineyard, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, dancing merrily with his wife Lily who had had to leave him for reasons unknown.

Eight months later, there was finally an email from Mina. It began with the desperate words, “Please come and see me as soon as possible!” Her message was as follows: “After leaving Kenya, I came to Cambridge (Harvard) because my visa was still valid. But, then, I noticed that I was pregnant. I never thought of such a situation, but realized that I was totally wrong about my father’s death in Singapore. So, I returned your money. But I knew that you would not forgive me, and decided to raise this child myself. I got a job at Harvard International Office. A few days ago, I was forced to be hospitalized for Preeclampsia (pregnancy hyper blood tension). The baby will be all right, but I don’t know if I can survive. If I die, the baby will be an orphan, which I would like to avoid by all means. That’s why I am sending this email to you. My hospital is Mass General in Boston. If possible, I would like to see you even for a moment, and say thank you for those wonderful days at Baden-Baden.” 

Yuichi immediately left home for Boston after reading this email, and was on board of a plane only a few hours later. On arriving at the hospital, Mass General, he rushed to the floor where Mina had been treated. He was told that the baby girl was born a few hours before, but that unfortunately the mother passed away soon afterwards. The doctor regretted that, if she had come to the hospital a few months earlier for treatment, she would have survived. Mina was lying on the bed peacefully, as if she was about to say, “Thank you for coming to see me for a long way.” Yuichi cried and cried, apologizing Mina for putting her to such a turn of events.

The funeral was conducted at a small chapel near the Harvard campus, and was attended by her friends at the Graduate School and her colleagues at the International Office. He named the baby “Yumi” combining the names of Yuichi and Mina, He came back to Tokyo with Yumi, and he has since been raising the child by himself. 

***

Twelve years have passed. Yumi Katsura is now a bright and cheerful sixth grader in the elementary school and she will be a junior high student next year. Yumi looks like Mina from every angle. 

Yuichi has invested most of his property for the water drilling project in Lift Valley area in Africa by establishing a NPO called Mina’s Water (Water for Alle, Mina in Japanese means All). He is hoping to visit Kenya when Yumi becomes a junior high school student.

Yuichi got a license of a sommelier (wine expert) some five years ago, and opened a small wine shop, which he named “Baden-Baden”. Mina’s portrait is hung at the center wall. The most precious wine in this shop is the 1984 bottle of Chateau Calon Segur, which he intends to keep until he dies. He hopes that he will be buried in the same grave as Mina, and that somebody will pour the wine onto the tombstone. 

Shiraishi stops at the shop every once a while to chat with Yuichi at the wine tasting counter. Both are now 60 years old. Yuichi says: “My dream is to taste wine with Mina, I mean, with Yumi, when she becomes twenty years old. So, I need to stay strong at least until then.”                                                               (end)

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