Monogatari Series:Bakemonogatari Volume1/Hitagi Crab 002
"Senjougahara-san?" Hanekawa tilted her head to the side, puzzlement in her eyes. "What about Senjougahara-san?"
"You know - " I hesitated. "I'm just, curious."
"You don’t say."
"You know, like, she has a weird name, doesn't she?"
"Senjougahara is the name of a place."
"Well, it's not that, I'm talking about her first name."
"If I’m not wrong, her first name is Hitagi, isn’t it? It's not really weird. If I remember correctly, it's a term related to public works.” ”
"You really know everything..."
"I don't know everything. I just know what I know." Although Hanekawa did not seem satisfied with my answer, she did not persist, but only commented offhandedly. "It's quite rare for Araragi-kun to take notice of other people."
I told her it was none of her business.
She's the class representative.
She is a girl with the air of a class representative, with proper glasses, rule-abiding, awfully serious and popular with teachers, one of the rare breeds that only exist in anime and manga these days.
She has been the class representative all her life, and has an air about her that suggests she will continue to be a class representative all her life, and is the representative of all representatives. There are rumours that she might have been chosen by a god to be a class representative (just me, actually.)
We were in different classes for the first and second year of school and only ended up in the same class for third year. Even before we were in the same class, I had heard about Hanekawa's existence. It was a given; if Senjougahara was in the top of the class every year, Hanekawa was the top student. She attains full marks for all five or six subjects as if it was a walk in the park, and even now, I can remember her inhuman feat. In the term tests of the first semester of our second year, including Physical Education and Fine Arts, the only mistake she made was on a trick question in History. She was so famous, even if I didn't want to, I would have ended up hearing about her.
Unfortunately, no, it might be a good thing, but it doesn't discount the fact that it's irritating. Hanekawa is a kind human being, good at taking care of people. And it is honestly unfortunate that she is a determined person as well. She is such a serious person that she doesn't budge once she has made up her mind. During the spring break, just because of a little incident that should have been over by now, even though she didn't know whether we would end up in the same class or not, she had declared: "I will definitely change you for the better."
For someone like me who was neither a delinquent nor a problem child, more of an ornament in class than anything, her declaration came as a shock. No matter how hard I tried to dissuade her, she forced me to become the assistant class representative.
That was why today, the 8th of May, the both of us stayed back after school to plan the Cultural Festival that was to be held in the middle of June.
"Though it's the Cultural Festival, we're third year students. We can't afford to do anything big, because we'll be having examinations soon." said Hanekawa.
As expected of the representative of all class representatives, she places more importance on examinations than cultural festivals.
"Instead of wasting time on gathering opinions with surveys, how about we think of some ideas and let the class take a vote on them?"
"It sounds good to me. Democratic."
"As usual, you make it sound so negative. As if you are already defeated."
“I’m not defeated. Don’t target my weak points.”
"Anyway, just for reference, Araragi-kun, what did you do for the Cultural Festival for the past two years?"
"A Haunted House and a Cafe."
"I see… the normal. Too normal. One could even say mundane."
"Mundane might be good."
"Don't say that."
"Most of the stalls will be mundane, but is it such a bad idea? Not only do we have to entertain the guests, we have to keep things interesting for ourselves.... That reminds me, Senjougahara - she doesn't participate in Cultural Festivals, does she?"
Not last year - and not the year before that either.
It's not only for Cultural Festivals. Senjougahara probably does not participate in anything outside normal class time. Sport festivals were a given, but she does not participate in class outings or camps. The excuse being that the doctor has forbidden any form of physical exertion, or something of the sort. Now that I think of it, it's weird. Physical exercise is understandable, but to exclude any forms of physical activity -
But, what if -
What if I had been mistaken.
What if Senjougahara had no weight.
Other than normal classes, indeed, in situations where she'll be surrounded by large numbers of people, such as physical education classes, there will be an increase in the chance of being touched, and she most definitely cannot be able to participate.
"Are you very concerned about Senjougahara?"
"Guys prefer weak and sickly girls after all. That's so perverted." Hanekawa teased.
It was a comparably preferable moment.
I suppose you could call her sickly.
But does that count as an illness?
Is it all right to pass it off as an illness?
It's easy to understand why the body would become lighter during illness, but that was way beyond the level of illness.
From the topmost staircase, almost as if she was dancing, a slim girl fell. It was a situation where the person who attempted to catch her would most definitely be injured.
Despite that, there was no impact.
"Shouldn't you know more about Senjougahara than me? After all, you've been in the same class as Senjougahara for three years running."
"You could say that - but girls would know more about other girls."
A cynical laugh.
"If a girl has problems, she wouldn't talk to guys about it, wouldn't you agree?
Of course it's true.
"That's why… just think of it as a question from the assistant class rep to the class rep. What kind of a person is Senjougahara?"
Hanekawa, who had not stopped writing even as she spoke to me (she wrote and erased and rewrote “Haunted House” and “Café” as the first items on the list of “Item to be presented during Cultural Festival”), stopped and folded her arms.
“Senjougahara, well, her family name seems rather dangerous at first glance, but she’s an honor student with no problems. She’s clever and doesn’t avoid cleaning duties.”
“I’ll bet. I already knew that. I’m asking about things I don’t know.”
“But I’ve only been in the same class with her for a month. It’s a given that there are many things that I don’t know. There was Golden Week, too.”
“Oh right, Golden Week.”
“Was there something about Golden Week?”
“Nothing. Please continue.”
“Ah… That’s right. Senjougahara isn’t someone of many words, and she doesn’t seem to have any friends either. Even though I’ve tried to approach her, she gives the feeling of having built a wall about her…”
As expected, she sees through everyone.
Of course, I had expected that answer to my question.
“That – is really difficult,” said Hanekawa.
With an ominous right.
“It might be because of her illness, I suppose. During middle school, she was more energetic, and bright.”
“When you say middle school – Hanekawa, you were in the same middle school as Senjougahara?”
“Eh? Didn’t you ask me because of that?” She looked surprised. “We are from the same middle school, Kiyokaze Public Middle School. Even though we weren’t in the same class, Senjougahara was famous.”
More than you, you mean, was what I wanted to say, but didn’t. Hanekawa hated being treated like someone famous. Though I think that she isn’t self-conscious enough, she seems to think of herself as “a normal girl whose only redeeming feature is her diligence”. In her opinion, studying is something that anyone can do.
“She was really pretty, and good at sports.”
“Good at sports…”
“She was the star of track-and-field. She also broke several records, I think.”
She wasn’t like that in middle school.
Energetic and bright – that means, to be direct, it’s entirely unimaginable when you look at Senjougahara to be direct; it’s entirely unimaginable when you look at Senjougahara right now.
“That’s why, I heard so much about her.”
“That she was a really considerate girl. That she doesn’t discriminate and treats everyone equally well, and that she came from a good family. Her father was one of the top people in a foreign capital company, she lives in a mansion, and although she’s really rich, she’s not snobbish at all. She’s above us, and aiming even higher.”
“She sounds like a superwoman.”
“Well, it’s probably half-true.”
Rumors are rumors.
“Of course, that’s what they were saying at that time.”
“At that time.”
“After we entered high school, I heard that she became ill. Despite that, I was shocked when we ended up in the same class this year and I saw her. After all, she wasn’t the type to stick in a corner of the classroom.”
It was what she had assumed selfishly, said Hanekawa.
It was definitely a selfish assumption.
From middle school to high school, it’s a given that people will change. I changed, and Hanekawa must also have changed. That’s why it’s understandable that Senjougahara had changed. She must have had her own problems, and maybe she really became ill. That might be the reason why she had lost her cheerful self. She must have lost her energy. Anyone would be depressed when they’re sick. Especially if they had been lively in the past. That’s why, my conjecture must be correct.
If that had not happened this morning.
That’s what I can say.
“But – I probably shouldn’t say this about Senjougahara.”
“Compared to the past, she’s a lot prettier now.”
“Her existence is – really fragile.”
Silence – She had hit the bull’s-eye.
A fragile existence.
She had no – presence.
As if she was a spirit?
A sickly girl.
A girl with no – weight.
An urban legend.
The subject of gossip.
The stuff of rumors.
Half-true, was it.
“Ah, I just remembered something.”
“Oshino called me.”
“Oshino-san? What for?”
“Something – Well, he probably wanted me to help with his work.”
“I see.” Hanekawa’s expression was unreadable.
The sudden change in topic – more like, the conspicuous attempt to round up the issue, she seems distrustful. Saying that I had to “help with his work” was on a spur of the moment. That’s why I don’t get along well with smart people.
She can probably tell what I’m thinking.
I stood up, forcibly trying to keep my tone light.
“So, I gotta leave like, now. I’ll leave the rest to you, Hanekawa?”
“If you agree to compensate for today, then it’s all right. There isn’t much left, so I’ll let you off for today. You shouldn’t keep Oshino-san waiting.”
Hanekawa had said that for my sake.
Seems like using Oshino’s name was a good choice. Oshino was a benefactor to both of us, and we didn’t want to appear ungrateful. Well, of course, I had taken that into account, and it wasn’t exactly a lie.
“Then, for the cultural festival item, is it all right if I make the decision? Though we’ll get the approval from the rest afterwards.”
“Yeah. I’ll leave the rest to you.”
“Give my best to Oshino-san.”
And I stepped out of the classroom.
 Translator's Notes
- It was a mythical battlefield between the gods of Mt. Nantai and those of Mt. Akagi
- "Public works" is written 土木 (soil + tree)
The name "Hitagi" in kanji can only be written as 肥田木 (fertilizer + field + tree)
By the way, the name of Bakemonogatari's character is written in hiragana, therefore it has no meaning associated
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