Shortly after my return, I caught the sound of a rickshaw. Wheels back then weren't rubberized like they are now. They made a terrible racket, and it carried for quite some distance. Finally, the cart came to a halt before our gate.
I was called to dinner some thirty minutes later. The adjacent room was colored by bright clothing that Okusan and her daughter had hastily thrown off on their return. They had hurried home, they said, to prepare us a timely dinner. Their effort, however, was largely in vain. I sat at the table like a man guarding his words, offering only curt responses. K was even more reticent still. Our moods were in sharp contrast to those of the two ladies who, having made a rare outing together, had returned in the best of spirits. Okusan asked me if something was wrong. I told her I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I was, in fact, feeling out of sorts. The daughter, in turn, asked the same thing of K. K didn't follow suit and say he was out of sorts. He simply said that he didn't feel like talking. She asked him then why he didn't feel like talking. In that moment, I perked up my weary eyelids and looked his way. I wanted to know how he would respond. His lips, as they were wont to do, trembled a bit. To the unknowing eye, it could only seem that he was stuck for an answer. The daughter smiled and remarked that he must be lost again in his thoughts. K's face reddened a shade.