It was after breakfast when I met two monks on the road, walking barefoot, talking, unconcerned and undiminished by the heat pounding down on us. Monks fascinate me. I love their shaved heads, their robes that crash around them like a waterfall, their wooden beads. I like to think I may have been a monk in my past life. I offered them a ride, unrealistic though it may have been to carry two of them on my rental moped. They declined.
I asked where they were headed and they said they were off to lead a meditation retreat. They were based in Chiang Mai and were on the island only for a few days. I myself arrived last night, renting a run-down beach house that reeked of cat-piss and stale bedsheets. It wasn’t the Pablo Nerudaesque writing hole I had envisioned. Under the mid-day sun, I told them my life story: how I came to Koh Mak to gut my life like a fish. Scrape off the scales from tail to gill, cut it lengthwise, and gently carve out the insides. Clean and rinse. Because my life was constipated, full of shit; that I had love but kept questioning it, afraid to trust it. I asked them if they thought the world was going to the dogs– not that dogs were lesser beings than us, it was just an expression– and whether we should accept it or if we had an obligation to do something. I asked them if God was real and why people cling to religion.
They said that the only God I needed to worry about was the God that didn’t shut up. The one that was trapped inside my skull, the one I had absolute faith in, the one whose thoughts I never questioned, that same God that led me down these lonely roads. Why don’t you stop thinking, you silly bitch, and just get on with your life. I thought that was quite rude; they didn’t know me and I had bothered to pull over to save them from the miserable heat. It was then I realised we were conversing in Thai and I didn’t understand a word of it.
Then I was on my bike, riding past them, waving. I didn’t stop, I never offered them a ride. They didn’t wave back.