There was a young man who lived in a city. He got up every morning to do two things. He went to office and then came home straight. He came back home to stew his head in the books. That is what he came back home for I am assuming otherwise he could have gone on living anywhere else.
This may or may not be true. But that was what his parents thought because after a while – it was so long ago that now they could not pin the time ‘when’ – he had stopped talking to them.
In the beginning his mother was not unduly worried. She told the husband – who said he did not remember even when reminded – that the boy had not talked for the first four years of his life. On the fifth year he had begun to speak, but only when hungry and for fish.
We should get him married, said the mother one day when the sun broke over his head and she found him asleep over his books in a tight embrace on the desk by the window.
The desk was by the window. And the snowy mountains of Izu stood like a white castle outside.
Each day the youth tried to take little steps towards the white castle. But some day he would get up at a time when the sun would be chopping up the day and little arrowed rays would get into his eyes. On other days, he would stumble over his own legs. His legs, he found one day, were too short to jump over the window so he kept them folded and stayed in. But he kept the mountains of Izu for years and years by his desk by the window.
One day, he woke up and saw the mountains had shifted to the right. And in its place was a desert rolled out like a bread. Giant cacti raised their heads like newborn babes before his eyes and tomatoes and cucumbers nearby. Dappled horses came kicking their heels and scorpions bit their hinds. In this funny town, little boys devised a new game of bruising their heads against their bedsteads and when night came, their red-lipped sisters let out a low whistle, hitched up their skirts, pinned a blue flag on their collars and raced their horses through the swirling sand to beat their soft fists on the window.
And this went on for some years.
One day, they brought him a wife from the neighbouring city and in the beginning she was like a bird. He took no notice of her but she skipped about the house, climbing the trees, felling the fruits, cleaning the garden, shearing the weeds, singing with the radio. And this went on for some years.
After four years one evening, the youth found her by his desk looking out.
What do you see? he asked.
And the girl puffed up like a parrot, said: You. Thinking of you.
Then what could a man do but push her out of the window where by then a lake had formed, to feed the fish.