An old woman came to see the blacksmith. “This kettle you sold me stopped working,” she said.
The blacksmith inspected the kettle she held out to him. Its bottom was sturdy. He didn’t see any holes or cracks in the seam.
“How is it broken?” he said.
“It doesn’t whistle!”
“But the water still boils?”
The old woman scowled at him. “I am occasionally forgetful,” she said. “Sometimes I don’t remember if I began to make tea. If the kettle doesn’t whistle, how will I know?”
The blacksmith nodded. “I can fix it. For one gold piece.”
“When you sold this kettle to me,” the old woman reminded him, “you said it would last for a hundred years. You said you were a master craftsman.”
“And it still boils water, doesn’t it?”
“But it won’t whistle!” she complained.
So the blacksmith grudgingly took receipt of the kettle. When the old woman returned the next day, he gave it back with a smile. “Good as new,” he promised. But that was not the end of it. The following morning, as he was feeding his forge, the old woman came back.
“Now it screams!” she said. “It doesn’t whistle, it screams! I can’t use this for tea. I can’t use it for anything! Anytime the water gets hot, it screams so loud I think that someone is dying!”
“It boils water,” the blacksmith protested, his arms tightly folded across his chest. “It makes a sound when there is steam. Take it and go.”
That night, when he went home, his wife greeted him at the door. “There’s something wrong with our child,” she said. “Come and see.”
Together they went to the child’s crib. The babe was awake. She was crying — her face was red and contorted. Tears were streaming down her face. But though her mouth was open wide and her stomach convulsed, the babe didn’t make a sound.
“What is wrong with her?” his wife said.
“She’s hungry,” the blacksmith replied. “Feed her.”
So she did, lifting the babe to her breast and letting her suckle. The sound was like a pig at its trough.
This is a repository for JY's original content that's yet to be bound in a book -- essays, short fiction, etc. There's little rhyme or reason, so jump in!