His hair was cropped very short -- so short that the scalp showed at
places. On top of that, he had a long piece of twine thread wrapped
several times around his forehead. The winding was so tight that it
made his eyes fiery and his veins swollen. But the oddities did not
end there. To make things worse, his hairy nostrils were filled with
phelgm and snuff. A few days' beard added to the effect and produced
a sight which, to say the least, was not pleasing.
A baby girl was crying in the hallway at the top of her
voice. In the room, another was lying ill.
``Krittibas! Where are you?''
Mr. H looked fiercely towards the door.
``I say, Kité --''
But Krittibas was certainly not around.
He shouted even louder -- ``Kité --''
No one showed up.
This time in a thundering voice -- ``Kité, you stupid bastard--''
His shoutings woke up the girl in the sick-bed and she
started crying. It was very faint, almost a whining. The other
child had been crying all along. Her voice was not faint -- it was
rather strong. Mr. H became even more furious by these two
completely different styles of crying. He screamed furiously at a
high voice -- ``Kité, Kité, you damn --''
It worked this time.
Kité did not show up of course, but in came a fat woman with
marks of spices on her saree. This had an immediate effect. Mr. H
suddenly subsided and started looking around with an embarrassed smile
on his face. But the woman was not the least embarrassed. Nor, for
that matter, did she show any sign of truce. She frowned at Mr. H for
a while. She then put one hand on her waist, shook the other
hand militantly and asked him, ``What's the matter? The way you are
screaming, anyone would think that the house is on fire.''
Mr. H fumbled, ``Is the hot water ...?''
``What about it? How can I bring you the hot water now? I have
only two hands, as you might have noticed!''
``No no, I didn't ask you. Where is Kité?''
``He has gone to the market.''
``I thought you had sent him to the market once in the morning.''
``I have sent him again.''
``Oh, that's all right.''
Mr. H did not dare say anything more. At that instant,
Krittibas himself appeared at the door and said, ``I got the
Mr. H now fixed his fiery gaze on Krittibas. Krittibas said
apologetically, ``I'll bring your water right away, sir. I had put it
on the stove before leaving. I think it's ready by now --''
Krittibas left the room. The lady left as well. On her way,
she stopped in the hallway, slapped the child a few times and
said, ``Wailing all the time! All day, all night! What a pain in
The crying became louder. The sick girl groaned, ``Dad, my headache
Recalling his wife's mood, Mr. H did not consider it wise
to ask her for anything. Instead, he got up and fetched the
thermometer. He found that the girl's fever had gone up to 105
degrees. He looked helplessly at the thermometer for a while.
Then, when a sigh was expected to come out of him, he burst into a
``Try to sleep, don't scream.''
The five-year old girl rolled by her side with the hope of getting
A loud rap at the door followed. Mr. H opened the door and
found the person he was most afraid of. It was the grocer. He had
come with the monthly bill.
Mr. H said, ``Maybe day after tomorrow -- I'm terribly short of money
at the moment.''
The man swore and left.
``Here's your water, sir.''
Mr. H looked around and found Krittibas standing there with a
kettle in his hand.
``Bring me a pan.''
Krittibas rested the kettle on the floor and brought a large pan and
some cold water. Mr. H mixed some hot and cold water into the pan
and felt the temperature with his hands. He found that it did
not suit him. He was about to pour some more hot water when the sick
girl started throwing up.
``Kité -- come here -- look at her --''
Krittibas came to take care of the child. Mr. H mixed hot and cold
water in right proportions. Then he looked at Krittibas and said,
``Now leave her alone. Bring me my small table, the pen and some
Mr. H sat down in a chair whose arms were broken. He dipped
his feet into the warm water and started enjoying the footbath.
Krittibas presently brought paper, pen, ink and the small writing
The bugs in the chair began biting Mr. H; two dogs started quarrelling
loudly in the road outside; the baby in the hallway continued crying
at the top of her voice; and Mr. H felt a splitting headache. He kept
rubbing his forehead with his left hand, closed his eyes and started
thinking. He must finish it today. The editor of the journal was
pestering, and Mr. H also had his own reasons. With a friendly frown
appearing on his face, Mr. H began to think of a plot for a real funny
story. He was a renowned humorist.