Whet Your Whistle…

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Patty And The Monk Boy. (Working Title)
The Beginning
Xi Jiang
I do not remember much of my early years. The day my father brought me to the temple and left me with the Abbot. I remember that I looked into the pale brown eyes of the Abbot, his wrinkled skin-folds making his eyes look smaller like grandma when she laughed. But Abbot didn’t laugh, or smile – he only studied me with a look that made me uncomfortable. A stare that had me wringing my hands in my shirt and kicking the pale tiled floor in his office with my bare toes.
My father said I was a blessing, a gift from the buddha to the people and it was wrong of them to keep me to themselves. Perhaps he didn’t realise that I would miss my family, my brothers and younger sister. Or my mother whose round stomach would twist and turn and nudge my head when I lay it there.
They said children born that looked like me, were special. They said I didn’t belong with them even though the line of grandma’s mouth made her lips disappear beneath her sparse moustache, and the hairs on her chin stick out. Who would pull them for her now that I was gone? I did not know, but her thin eyebrows were like slashes of lightening across her forehead when she looked at her son and shook her head. I wondered, to this day, why her eyes glittered with stars as she breathed a prayer over me, before she kissed and patted my shoulder.
I remembered they shaved my head, removing the last of my ties to the material world. My clothes were folded and placed in a bag, the monk telling me I had no need of them from that day.  They dressed me in bright saffron the colour of my favourite food; daal and flat dumplings. The colour reminded me of home so much that my cheeks were wet before I could stop myself.
I remembered the Abbot knelt before me and told me that I should not cry for the life I had left behind, that I was loved by buddha. He told me that only boys like me could walk on the path that had been laid out before me.
Barely understanding all that he had told me, I nodded and wiped my arm across my nose and my hands down my face, my pale cheeks becoming smeared with dirt and my pale jade eyes blinking with the pain of sorrow. A sorrow I learnt to hide within the deepest recesses of my heart, that I would bring out and tend only when in the dark of night when all the other boys were fast asleep and the mice in the corners would scrabble about thinking they were searching in secret.
I was the boy with jade eyes, a rare thing amongst my brown eyed companions, and no one knew that better than me. (To Be Continued!)

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