The Monk & the Nun



They were born a few days apart, a few houses apart in a rural village known for the cultivation of a very special variety of rice called Jade Fortune. From the first moment that she became aware of him, at the age of 5 as they both carried sheaves of rice in the Harvest Festival, she held secret adoration for him. They attended school together, sitting across the aisle from one another, he on the boys' side, she on the girls'. He was studious and made no association with his classmates, either at lunchbreak or exercise time. After school when she went to the family ricepaddie to work, he went home to study sutra. When the day came for him to leave for the monastery, she took up robes also. His family was proud that he had been chosen to go, her family was much dismayed by her departure. They were 11 years old.

After a lifetime of never having touched him, but never having been more than a few metres away from him, she held his hand and with a damp cloth wiped his brow, a task which would have elseways fallen to a brother of the order. But there were no others left, only she & he. Neither had they ever spoken of anything aside from what was dictated by the duty to which they were vowed. Only now at death's approach, his breath ragged, he made known his heart to her, "Sister you have followed me down my path when you could have gone your own way and I am grateful that you did. I would have despaired every day had I been made to leave you behind." 

Her eyes welled with tears of gladness. She laid her head upon his chest and wept, "Your way is my way... our way."

They were 77 years old.


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