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

Comments 47 comments

Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Well done, you are such a great writer. Really :) Thanks.

fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

Great love story. Yeah, little girls are always far ahead than little boys in the whole love thing. Its amazing! And hey, I'm glad you now think clean thoughts when meditating. ;)

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for commenting, UW. I was awaiting a response for this story, as I just finished it only a few hours ago.

The story isn't entirely true, but I found a strong connection here and ran with it.

Thailand and Laos certainly have a strong history with each other:)

Fiery, yeah me too. What made it even harder was that my body was changing too. I felt like a fat kid that had to live inside a buffet but was forbidden to touch, look, or eat anything. Thanks :)

Raggits 7 years ago

This is the way I wish I could write. I will have to post a story of my own for you to proofread, Dohn.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks Raggits! It would be a pleasure to. Just send it to me via e-mail. I'll look forward to it.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

Thank you...I was there with you. I felt your words.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

You're welcome, Peter. I appreciate the comment.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

There's something about first love, isn't there.....??

You're a wonderful storyteller Dohn - loved it!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Yes,(blushes) I gotta get it all out...I just finished this story (beginning to end) today. I've been meaning to write it down for some time now.

One of my personal favorites is First Crush:Reba Ashkar. Have you read that one?

Philipo profile image

Philipo 7 years ago from Nigeria

This sounds more like a true life story. I love it.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I based this story off my own experience. The story is neither completely true nor is it fiction. It's somewhere in between. Thank you, Philipo.

sleepyhallow2009 7 years ago

i love your short stories. there wonderful and heart felt! thank you for the advice I will fix that! Once I start writing I forget! Im sooo happy that someone understands me a little!! Its hard to not be to meloncaly about being bipolar and its hard for me to admit to it. Ur soo awsome!!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

You're welcome Sleepyhallow. I have many childhood memories, many that are pleasant and some not-so pleasant. But I treasure them and try my best to not ever forget them. Creating stories out of them is my own personal way of preserving those same memories.

What I've learned pretty early in life is that writing therapeutic. I'll go as far as arguing that writing saved my life. I urge everyone to write, no matter the reason (don't do it because you want to be rich). Your heart will thank you.

Thank you for you comment!

Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

Great story! I would love to hear more.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

This is the most recent short story of mine to date. I have a few more that I've been mulling over...Please check back soon and thank you for commenting!

Writer Rider 7 years ago

I'll read this later, but I'll book mark it because it sounds very interesting.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Writer Rider. I'm curious to hear your response, so please do.

Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

well done good hub Thanks

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

You're welcome, Lgaili. I appreciate your comment!

Useful Knowledge 7 years ago

I enjoyed this story. I like the way you ended it with a little though provoking statement there. Another EXCELLENT write!!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, UK. I always look forward to your comments as you know. This is one of my personal favorites. I try to express some of the pain that both of us were feeling. I hope I succeeded.

kay hebbourn profile image

kay hebbourn 7 years ago from The Lake District, England

Beautiful story! Great ending

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Kay. I'm glad you liked it.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

I liked this love story, so young an dit did touched and I remember the love of my youth. It is always memorable to remember that love, which we cant forget. And that feeling too. I like it that you are so honest when you write and deeply touching.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, prettydarkhorse. This story is one of my personal favorites. I still think about "Suri" from time to time ans wonder how she is doing in the world. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it. Thank you.

Jack Kong 7 years ago

One question that's constantly on my mind is how to write stories centered around the Oriental/Eastern culture and still make them appeal to the English readers -- I think this piece of yours has provided some insights. Beautifully done, Dohn.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks so much, Jack. This story bounced around in my head for about 2 months before I began to scribble it down into comprehensible words! Just follow your heart and see where it goes with your story...Your audience will follow. I'm glad that you liked it.

apricot profile image

apricot 7 years ago from Italy

I found the ending touching but I can't even put my finger on why! There was something about that piece - it had a nice feel to it, perhaps it was the temple but I can't quite pinpoint it!

I stayed in a Buddhist temple for a week in Bangkok - my main memory is of being hungry all the time (we could only eat once a day) but I had a great time and made loads of friends.

Oh dear - I actually have an embarassing story even for that - I was bowing to some monks as I was walking out the temple one day and so intent I was on showing my respect that as I bowed I walked into the wall! All the monks burst out laughing!!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

That's exactly the kind of comment I want to hear, apricot! Whatever feelings you do have of the story overall is the correct feeling, so as you liked it!

That's really amazing that you got to stay at a temple! That must've been quite an experience! (I smell a hub coming on). Yes, I was hungry all the time too...After awhile, your body adjusts and so does your mind.

Your story had me rolling on the floor laughing! I'm sure that the monks appreciated your efforts and empathized with you! Thanks so much for commenting!

apricot profile image

apricot 7 years ago from Italy

I stayed there a whole week - would you believe it!! I was supposed to be learning meditation but I made so many Thai friends that I'm ashamed to say I spent most of the time chatting to them!

And the hunger!

In the morning we had to do walking mediation for an hour.

'You have to do the steps slowly,' a monk told me afterwards, 'you go too fast'.

'I know, I do try,' I said, 'but in my head I'm already on my way to breakfast.'

By the end of my week I was practically running through walking meditation! Ah! but that bean drink tasted so good afterwards!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

No, I believe you! I know a thing or two about extra-curricular activities within the temple ;) I really do enjoy hearing about this, so again, I must implore you-Please write a hub about this! I'm sure others would like to hear about your experiences in detail too!

I know I would! :D

amulets profile image

amulets 7 years ago from Singapore

Thank you for writing such a nice topic. It is very inspiring. You are indeed a wise and good writer. Keep it up. I do enjoy reading your articles.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, amulets. I'm glad that you did. I appreciate the compliment and hope to hear from you again.

amulets profile image

amulets 7 years ago from Singapore

With your talent in wriing, it is always nice to read about them in your hubpage. I am glad to read them and happy seeing you sharing what you are good at. Thanks!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, amulets. That's wonderful to hear you say that. I've been writing for quite some time and believe that I've been blessed with so many great teachers and professors all throughout my life who encouraged me and never gave up on me. Thank you.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

What a lovely story, Dohn. You say that it is both fiction and non fiction which is creative nonfiction. Our lives can be told so much more beautifully that way, don't you think?

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Dolores. Yes, I'd say so. Hopefully, my autobiographical novel will be accepted by a publishing house this year. I'm going for broke in 2010 and will do all that I can to see to it that it gets published. Thank you so much for reading this. It's one of my personal favorites.

JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 7 years ago from Midwest

Ok this was put out 5 months ago... is there more? Did you ever see Suri again?!?!? Was at the wat the last time you saw her?!?!? Is Suri the girl kissing you on the cheek on your profile pic?!?! Damn, now I have to go read through the comments to get some details maybe. Excellent excellent writing. I envy your skill, Dohn. That was beautiful.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, JBeadle. I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed this story. As for Suri, yes that was the last time I saw her. She'll always be locked into my memory, so long as I can remember. No, the girl in my avatar is actually Rayna H. Hurman who I wrote a hub/ballad about. She's now the only girl I truly love. Thank you very much for your comment! I enjoyed writing this.

G Miah profile image

G Miah 7 years ago from Muslim Nation

Nice love story, and it wasn't just love for one person but two things, meeditation and Suri. Made me smile, good work!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I'm glad that you enjoyed it G Miah. Thanks for reading it. I think I'm going to try to submit this one to a literary magazine.

Freya Cesare profile image

Freya Cesare 6 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

Thank you for the link, Donh. Indeed I'm not reading this one yet. ^_^

You have such a way in telling your story. Love it! I wish I'm able to write something this good. I keep having problems in translating gesture into words. >.<

Thanks for a good reading, Dohn. Good story always become good food for the soul. ^_^

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Freya. I'm sure you'll get to it when you have the time. I realize that English is not your first language (it's not mine etiher, lol) but your grasp of it is exceptional. I totally agree with you on that one! Hope to hear from you soon!

IntimatEvolution profile image

IntimatEvolution 6 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

Spiritual and inspirational.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you for the feedback IntimatEvolution. I'm glad you liked it.

wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

Good Day dohn121

You have a very smooth, fluid prose style, which I know is not as easy to master as it appears. Your delivery is clean and tight, with no excessive adjectives, adverbs, or anything like that. You put it "straight down the middle" to borrow a baseball metaphor.

You know, I had to think about that ending, what you were trying to say -- at least what Suri was trying to say to Dohn.

She kissed him, the young Buddhist trainee/apprentice and said, "You see? We're not that different from each other."

Obviously the Buddhist clergy are allowed to marry and have children -- Dohn is the son of a Buddhist clergyman (sorry, I don't know the proper word), whose apprentice he serves as. I think that Suri thought that Dohn thought that he had to choose between devotion to Buddhism and her (if not her specifically, then let us say, love and sex in general).

Suri, I think, was saying that she could accept being the lover/wife of a Buddhist clergyman and she saw no conflict between her secularism (I'm guessing here) and his spiritual life. That's a good thing because if Dohn's name had been John and he had lived in England, and he was going into the Catholic priesthood, with all other things being roughly equal, we can imagine that the story to end nearly as happily.

As you know, the Catholic Clergy have to adhere to a vow of celibacy. We see how disastrously that has turned out.

Anyway, well done!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 4 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

My apologies wingedcentaur for not replying back to your carefully constructed and well-thought out comment...

This is one of the most diplomatic comments I've ever received, so thank you. The two writers I have most respect for is Ernest Hemingway and Hwang Sun-Won. In my writing, I make attempts to emulate their writing style in a compact, get-right-to-the-point approach and trim as much "fat" as possible. Doing so an ever need to edit, rewrite, and edit some more. It reminds me a great deal of when I was a kid trying to copy comic books and the likes with a piece of paper and number two pencil. I'd constantly draw, erase, and draw again...Rinse and repeat if you will. And in this method to my madness, the finished product never really feels..."Right."

I really liked the way that you dissected the story as if you were a fellow student in one of my writing workshops soon after the story was read aloud by the professor. Your comment reminds me of such. Your definition of the meaning behind the story isn't far off, but then again, there really shouldn't be a clear and correct answer as the reader should get a sense of ambiguity towards where the story goes thereafter. All of which is completely left to the reader.

I thank you kindly for your kind response. Reading responses such as yours are exactly the kind of responses any aspiring author could ever hope for!


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