Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I showered. The water stung in places where Cruela’s razor had nicked me. She had covered the cuts with a dark potion from a bottle you would find at an apothecary’s medicine shop or a flea market. Must be some sort of potassium permanganate solution, because the water was turning purple. Great! All I needed was purple streaks running down my face and neck, and I would look like some Star Wars character. There was no point looking at the tiny mirror hung outside the shower areas. I knew the streaks that were on my hand were on my head and ran all the way down my neck and face. I could imagine the twinkling in the eye of the Teva monk..!

My head felt so raw, I knew I had to give it time before I could even think about scrubbing it again. Skipping lunch did not seem to be an option as dinner was so far away, and there was nothing to munch on between meals. I had come to like the gruel that would be served at lunch. And they served greens that tasted out of the world.

I took a deep breath and mentally crossed my fingers as I entered the dining hall. After the prayers, everyone bowed down to the food, and lifted their bowls. I did not see the Teva monk anywhere. My sigh must have been audible because I felt a sharp nudge on my left which meant Cruela was sitting next to me. The nudge was to deter me from saying anything.

Food time was quiet time at the Sanctuary. (Actually it was mostly quiet time). But it was odd because at home food was always accompanied by chatter and laughter. Here there was nothing. Not even a how-was-your-day conversation. Everyone at the dinner table was concentrating as if this was their last meal. What was with that? There must be more than fifty people in there, but each one was eating head bowed, eyes closed s if in prayer. But it saved me from this huge embarrassment of being seen in public in a very bad Halloween costume.

The gruel was so amazing I forgot everything and simply ate I wish they served seconds.

Maybe the taste was what stopped everyone from making small talk.

I raised my head from the bowl and saw monks were slowly filing out of the dining room after having washed their bowls. I put the bowl to my mouth and resisted the urge to smack my lips like the burger eating character in Popeye as I drained it. I had been here not too many days, and I was already washing it just as everyone does. What creatures of habit we are...

I stepped out into the dappled sunlight wondering if I should lay a small bet with myself. A part of me knew I would not last in this place for too long. There were way too many rules, and there was no possibility at all of anyone being allowed to question those rules. A part of me was still terrified by the life I had been forced to lead and was so thankful for the refuge this place offered, it told me to stick with the rules as it was the only safe place left in the whole world.

Suddenly I felt as though I was being watched. Instinctively I froze. And forced myself to look up.

Someone behind me was smothering a giggle. A giggle? Here? I braced myself for the realization that I was going completely mad, and turned around.

The entire bunch who had eaten with me in the dining hall; the entire bunch who had their eyes closed as they ate their gruel and vegetables; the entire bunch of bald headed monks was assembled in a haphazard maroon group under the trees. They were all looking at me. As I said before, the eyes tend to look rather large when your head is tonsured. Here too, large eyes on hairless faces looked back at me. And those saucer eyes held something that looked like… naah, could not be! But what were the usually stoic faces suppressing? I looked at them. Puzzled. And as soon as I made eye-contact, one by one, the faces crumpled up into hysterical laughter. Every one of the maroon robes was doubling up. They had all noticed my purple streaked face!

And one of them, in an even more un-monk like manner, spoke up with a robotic voice, “Hail, Lord Sidious!”


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9:51 PM  
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2:55 PM  
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Blogger Banno said...

good stuff

8:35 PM  
Blogger Sathya said...

It is just a sort of place I fancy myself in.

8:06 PM  

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