[Note: A kaidan-dansu is a Japanese chest of drawers in a step configuration].
The kaidan-dansu was a prized family possession. From his earliest memories it had always been present. It was a large chest of drawers built as a staircase in two sections. The base contained a large walk-in compartment in addition to large drawers under the steps. The large compartment was used for storage of foodstuffs, and the drawers were used for storage of dry goods. The bottommost drawer was the largest, and drawers above it were progressively smaller. The second section fit on top of the base; its narrower steps contained smaller drawers. These were used for personal items.
The kaidan-dansu steps led up to the second storey of the household and the room Ikeda shared with his sisters until they left the Ikeda household. The drawer in the topmost step just under what had been the entrance to the children’s room was his.
When he was a child, the kaidan-dansu had towered over him and seemed immovable. However, he had watched his father reposition it once, so he knew it could be moved.
With age the kaidan-dansu darkened and its reddish brown lacquer became muted.
It was a comforting presence in the household. His sisters knew that he liked being inside the kaidan-dansu. His mother knew this too, and they laughed about it gently. It didn’t do any harm. If he wasn’t out watching for birds or for airplanes, they knew where to find him.
On the day Ikeda’s elder sister married and left the household, the boy slipped into the kaidan-dansu. Feeling sadness at her departure, he cried quietly. His other sister found him, sat next to him, and began crying too. Her tears were for his reaction to their sister’s departure. She knew that she would leave soon, too.
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