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Case 39

The River of Tea

Java master Suku was visiting the provinces of her youth. She had just seated herself in a favorite teahouse when a novice approached and asked her opinion of some code he had written.

Suku examined the listing and found that every single method had been meticulously documented. The setName method of Person declared that it set the person’s name; the getName method affirmed that it returned the name set by setName, and the toString method vowed that, indeed, it would return a String.

Suku pushed the listing away from herself and sat a while in silence. Eventually the novice cleared his throat and asked if she was displeased.

“That is an interesting question,” said Suku. She pointed at the code. “This is paper, resting on a tatami mat. On the paper is ink. The ink forms many words. There is a bird in the hinoki outside. It has two feathered wings and two eyes...”

She continued in this manner until the novice’s cheeks turned red. He gathered his code and left her presence, ashamed but enlightened. Suku did not stop talking until the boy was out of earshot.

Qi’s commentary

Suku was served a generous portion of uncooked rice. The novice is fortunate that she lacked a paddle to cook it with.

Qi’s poem

The novice pours a river of green tea.
Still, Suku is thirsty.
An upright bowl may catch what it can,
but every bowl tips over in a deluge.