The Love of Life

11. Big Hsu's Tongue


11.  Big Hsu’s Tongue

From a run-down old storefront came a hair-raising shriek followed by the sound of a body falling to the ground.

The neighbors came rushing in to find out what was the matter, and there in a pool of blood they saw the cow butcher Big Hsu.

Blood was still flowing from his corpse. He died because his tongue had been cut out by his own butcher’s knife. The whole neighborhood started gossiping about how he died.

This is what had happened. Big Hsu made his living slaughtering cows. Every time before he killed a cow, he cut out its tongue and ate it with liquor. He didn’t slaughter the cow until he had finished his grisly feast. Nobody knew how many cow’s tongues he had eaten. Think how much it hurt the cows to have their tongues cut out!

That day, Big Hsu stuck his knife in the door sill for a moment while he did something else. Just then he heard two big rats fighting on top of the door sill. He looked up to watch the fight. His mouth was open. The rats fought so furiously that they knocked the knife out of the door frame and it fell right into Big Hsu’s open mouth and chopped off his tongue. He fell down and died.

When the neighbors heard how Big Hsu had died, they shook their heads and sighed, saying, “Big Hsu didn’t think a thing about killing an animal. He cut out the cows’ tongues to eat with his liquor, because he liked the taste. And in the end, two rats chopped off his tongue and killed him. They took his life just like he took those cows’ lives. The Buddhists must be right when they talk about cause and effect and your just deserts!”

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