For the Love of Buddhism: A Short Story
For the Love of Buddhism
Thinking back, I can still see her now. She’s imperfect but clear in my mind. She’s as clear as the crystal orb that my clouded mind endeavored to envision back then when trying so desperately to meditate. I was there with my dad for the first time and it was because of my dad that I found her there, albeit unintentionally, at the Thai wat, or Buddhist temple, in New York. I was twelve and she was thirteen.
I met her while heading up with my dad for the first time to the kuuti or meditation room in the attic of the mansion-converted wat. At the time, she was with her mother who held her hand when entering the wat. Just as soon as Suri saw me, she let go of her mother’s hand and blushed. She then practically hid behind her mother.
“Sawadee-kla!” Suri’s mother said in greeting to my dad.
“Sawadee!” my dad responded politely and placed his hands together in prayer as this was all customary.
The two then began chatting with one another in Thai which I didn’t fully understand. I spoke Lao and so understood only about a quarter of what the two were saying to one another. While this was happening, Suri continued looking at me with sustained curiosity. It was quite an awkward moment, I think, for the both of us. I didn’t know what to say to her and so didn’t say anything at all and neither did she. I think I was blushing right back at her.
“And who is this?” Suri’s mother asked, gesturing over to me. “You must be the son?” My dad laughed and placed both his hand on my shoulders with pride.
“Yes,” my dad said. “He’s my youngest…” Suri continued watching me. Her ears seemed to prick upwards when listening to the grown-up’s dull conversation that suddenly got very interesting. “His name is Dohn.”
That night while trying to meditate alongside my dad, I found it hard to concentrate. My legs were failing me as I could not keep them from falling asleep and I was making a lot of noises while trying to position myself just right. I felt Suri’s eyes upon me the entire time. Whether or not she was looking at me I'm not sure. She and her mother were sitting behind my dad and me in the room while meditating—well, at least he was anyway. My thoughts betrayed me. I just couldn’t focus like I was supposed to.
“What are you thinking about?” My dad asked me on our way home.
“Nothing,” I said to him while looking out my window.
I saw Suri again a few other times and then one weekend during one of the many celebrations at the wat with one of her friends. With my dad helping out around the vast rolling property belonging to the wat, I was able to wander aimlessly. Suri was sitting at the well that had around it a stone enclosure for which to sit on. In my hand was wooden branch I carved with a pocket knife and so was using to draw some lines in the ground and upon seeing her, I pretended to look busy.
“What are you doing?” Suri asked me. I hesitated at first and didn’t look up and didn’t look at her. The three of us were far away from the wat.
“Nothing,” I said to her. It was all I could think of to say. Her friend giggled.
“What’s your name?” She said. I looked up. I knew that she knew my name. The both of us were present when my dad introduced me to her mother. Despite my grumblings, I reminded her anyway.
“Dohn…And you’re name is Sori.” Both of them began to laugh. That was when I realized that I made a mistake. I mispronounced her name and was so embarrassed.
“Sur-ee!” Her nameless friend shouted. “Her name is Surrr-reee!”
“Why don’t you sit over here?” Suri asked me. Before Suri, I was never before asked to sit anywhere by a girl. So, reluctantly enough, I took her up on her offer and sat down near her, or about two or three spots away. She then got up and sat down beside me. The both of us began to talk and soon enough, Suri’s friend got up and walked away and left the two of alone, sitting underneath the eaves of the late summer pine. She asked me everything, including where I lived, which school I went to, and what grade I was in. I don’t believe I asked her any questions in return.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” I looked at her and shook my head. Suddenly, Suri reached over and slid her thin fingers between my mine and there it stayed for at least a little while.
The weeks went by afterwards as my dad and I returned to the wat time and again and I moved on with my progress of meditating. It was very difficult at first but after many attempts, I began getting it right. “You’re doing so well!” My dad told me. My mind was more and more focused and my goal became clearer. But all of this was not easy. All of this took time and was very painful for me to endure, because I still thought about Suri and was still recalling the memory of the two of us together, sitting there that day, just the two of us while time slipped away without telling us that it was. Suri leaned over to me and pressed her soft lips against mine as both our hands were intertwined together. When I opened my eyes, I saw that she was smiling at me.
“You see?” She said to me. “We’re not that different from each other.” I smiled back at her. I didn’t want to add to her sadness. I wanted to somehow cheer her up.
After many years, I think I finally understand what she was trying so desperately to tell me.
© Copyright 2009 by dohn121
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