Ousep Chacro, according to Mariamma Chacko, is the kind of man who has to be killed at the end of a story. But he knows that she is not very sure about this sometimes, especially in the mornings. He sits at his desk, as usual, studying a large pile of cartoons, trying to solve the only mystery that matters to her. He does not ask for coffee, but she brings it anyway, landing the glass on the wooden desk with minor violence to remind him of last night’s disgrace. She flings open the windows, empties his ashtray and arranges the newspapers on the table. And when he finally leaves for work without a word, she stands in the hall and watches him go down the stairs.
On the playground below, a hard brown earth with stray grass, Ousep walks with quick short strides towards the gate. He can see the other men, the good husbands and the good fathers, their black shoes polished, serious shirts already damp in the humid air. They walk to the scooter shed, carrying inverted helmets that contain their outrageously small vegetarian lunches. More men emerge from the stairway tunnels of Black A, which is an austere white building with three floors. Their tidy, auspicious wives in cotton saris now appear in the balconies to bid goodbye. They are mumbling prayers, smiling at other women, peeping with one eye into their own blouses.