Flash Fiction #127
“I want to be a monk.” Miz announced in the dinner party his wife Aryin held. He had threatened to become a monk several times before, but never had the conviction to carry it out.
Aryin was furious. Why did he choose such a moment to reiterate this? Didn’t he know Aryin wanted his support, particularly for this annual event?
It’s an important dinner party for her and she had prepared for it down to the last detail. After all, she’s the wife of the president of a university. Her dignified existence required such a well organized party to be thrown annually. Aryin didn’t ask much from her husband, except to be there, to smile, and to behave himself, but Miz couldn’t even meet such a minimum requirement…
Aryin didn’t think her husband was seriously thinking of becoming a Buddhist monk, but still telling people about it in her party, the most important yearly event for her, seems to be frivolous, inconsiderate. Even worse, it’s such a betrayal.
Miz had been the university president for five years and his work really depressed him. Every day, he was mired in meetings and parties for fundraising or other purposes. He disliked his job. He’s a scholar and wanted to work on his scholarly projects. Before becoming the president, he was a happy professor, who just did his teaching, research, meditation, and yoga. He loved those days of simple existence. However that’s not enough for his wife who had all the ambitious designs for him.
If his wife had not insisted in him taking this job as the president, he would not have done so. The job had its prestige, but the nature of the job was not to his liking at all. He found that he was either begging money from institutions, government agencies, wealthy alumni or attending boring social events that he had no interest in. In the meantime, his own scholarly ability is shelfed and squandered, growing increasingly rusty and disused. He felt that he was living his life just for her, to satisfy her desire to be a university president’s wife.
After the party, he said again to his wife, “I want to be a monk. I feel that my job depresses me and I want to take a break from it. You know the new Buddhist temple is going to be open soon and I have already talked to the elders there. They said they would love to have somebody like me. You know I can even try for one year. If I don’t like my life as a monk, I can quit. In the meantime, I can give up the president’s position, take a one-year sabbatical from the university. It seems it all works out very well.”
Aryin looked at Miz, wishing she could hit him with a glass, a plate, a chair or her high heel shoes, just to knock some common sense into him. “It all works out very well for you, doesn’t it? Have you ever considered me? Have you ever considered your family? We’ll have to move out of the University President’s house. I need to pack up everything. One day I am the president’s wife, and the next day I am homeless. Where am I going to live when you stay in your monastery? You are a wonderful scholar, but I’ve always felt that it is the craziness of your mind that have made you a good scholar. The insanity really runs in your family, doesn’t it? Your grandfather became a monk when he was sixty, wasn’t he? But you are not sixty yet. You are too young to be as incurably mad as your grandpa. And other people would laugh at me. Have you ever considered that? A monk’s wife? Do you want to wear an epithet like that wherever you go?”
“I am sorry I am going to bring inconvenience to your life.” Miz said. “Well, you can live with my mother if you like.”
(The second half of this story is here.)