Turn of the table
My sister broke up with Nobu shortly after I returned from the US. One day I entered the living room where they were talking, and she asked me to excuse them. A few days later, Nobu moved out. I was very proud of my sister for leaving a parasitic boyfriend. I was also glad to have her back only to myself. I looked forward to going shopping, cooking, watching TV together, and having all kinds of sisterly fun.
On the contrary to my joyful expectation, my sister withdrew to herself for a while. When we were out shopping, she looked distracted by her thoughts. She’d go out with her colleagues at the bar instead of spending time with me. Soon, she started seeing a younger man who had come to her bar. He was handsome and decent, but he told her a few months later that he didn’t think their relationship was working. She didn’t seem hurt by it, possibly because she also felt the same.
She met Takashi in the summer of 2001. He was one of the male staff at her bar. Relationship between the hostess and male staff was prohibited, so they saw each other stealthily at first, but he eventually quit the bar to find another job. My sister was the second most popular hostess at the time, but he was replaceable.
Like she did with Nobu, she brought Takashi to our apartment instead of spending time at his. Again, she didn’t ask for my consent or even asked me how I felt about having him around. As their relationship progressed, I saw him at our space more frequently. When I asked her not to have him live with us, she aggressively defended her action using the same logic as the last time that a loving couple should live together and that I’d rarely see them as they worked in the night. I told her that if he were going to live in our apartment, he’d have to pay his share of the rent. She insisted that I was still using a whole half of the apartment. But I had learned at work about cost allocation based on space usage and the number of occupants. I calculated a fair rent share for all of us and put it in front of her. She grudgingly accepted my proposal.
Naturally, I was suspicious of Takashi’s character. Instead of tiptoeing around him as I did with Nobu, I was downright blunt with him. I demanded my space in the living room and pushed him and my sister into the corner. I didn’t even use the honorific title, “san,” to his name.
The power balance between my sister and me shifted as a result of the new arrangement. Her narratives started to contain resentment of an oppressed person. The table was turned, and now I was the unreasonable tyrant.