Ha Ha Hu Hu tells the delightful tale of an extraordinary horse-headed creature that mysteriously appears in London one fine morning, causing considerable excitement and consternation among the city’s denizens. Dressed in silks and jewels, it has the head of a horse but the body of a human and speaks in an unknown tongue. What is it? And more importantly, why is it here?
Let’s us read an excerpt from the book.
The animal gestured that the floor was all muddy and there was nowhere to sit down. People understood the gesture. They brought a big stool and handed it to the animal. The animal sat on the stool in the lotus position, closed its nostrils and began to meditate. Nobody understood what it was doing. After about an hour, it opened its eyes and stood up, tied the now dry cloth around its body and put the cloth it was wearing out to dry. It pointed towards the fruits, gesturing for more. The Lord Mayor sent his men and had a large basket of fruits brought in. The animal then gestured asking for a chƟmbu. Where could you find chƟmbus in England! So they gave it a glass instead. The animal took the glass, sprinkled a few drops of water on the fruits, muttered something, waved its hand around the fruits and then ate all the fruits. It gestured for more water. They gave it more water from the hose. The animal drank the water.
Sitting on the stool, the animal looked quietly around at everybody. It laughed again. Now the people understood that that was how the animal laughed. The animal pointed towards the cage and gestured asking why it was there. Everyone was amazed.
Someone in the crowd said, ‘No, this isn’t an animal. This is a human being. The head is a horse’s head but this surely is a human being. We have discovered new continents, but we haven’t yet discovered the continent where people like this live. Let’s find out what his language is and which country he comes from. Looks like he comes from a very civilized culture. Why put him in a cage? Get him out.’
The police officers didn’t agree. ‘We can’t free him from the cage,’ they said. ‘How can we be sure that it’s not an animal? What if it pounces on the crowd and eats people alive?’
So the cage stayed.
The officers talked about many things to the animal in English. It was clear the animal did not understand. Then they spoke in French, German, Italian and Russian, one after the other. Still the animal did not understand. They brought a black man and had him speak his language to the animal. Listening to all these languages, the animal began to laugh as if it were ridiculing them. The police didn’t know what else to do. After a little while the animal neighed, which sounded to people at a distance like ‘Kim ma e sudam? Kim edam?’ By now everyone knew that the animal was talking. But it did not know any of their languages, so they did not know how to communicate with it.
However, they noticed something interesting: The animal was totally calm and looked uninterested in the people around it.
All this time, the soldiers stood with loaded guns. Coming close to the bars, the animal looked at one of their guns. A soldier standing behind the animal was frightened and walked four paces back and held the gun close to him. The animal turned around and saw his frightened face. It realized that the man’s hands held some kind of an instrument for killing. It looked at the gun with some interest and asked the policeman to see the gun. The policeman refused.
Everyone looked on in amazement.
The sun was setting. People were leaving for their homes. For fun, the eight-year-old son of a police inspector poked at the animal from behind with his badminton racket. The animal turned around as the boy ran away and stretched its hands through the bars to catch him. The boy escaped but the animal did get hold of a soldier, pulling the gun from his hands into the cage. People were frightened and ran away. Even the police and the soldiers were fleeing when the Lord Mayor commanded them to stop.
The animal began to look closely at the gun.