Red Umbrella

Red Umbrella

Note: This is a fictionalized story based on true event. 

The clouded sky is not unusual in Mundgod, South India during the monsoon. There is no certainty when it will rain and when it won’t. But this wet, green and muddy season won’t prevent us from playing soccer. Like a normal day, we are out for the game which is prohibited for monks in my monastic rules. As it is prohibited, we have to flee to distanced fields where we can play the game out of the discipliner’s scope. We strategize well, in order to break the rules; where and when to play is secretly informed to the entire team. We leave separately from the monastery so no one can guess what we are up to. I ride my bicycle and pretend I am going to town.

Our team is well organized; carefully selected and trustworthy. Who is in, is only known among ourselves. We don’t permit the risk of being caught. If unfortunately we get caught, it is certain that we are going to be punished; our names will be announced, kitchen duty, canteen work etc; the number of days you need to serve depends on your offense.

The chief disciplinary is no less clever than us, he is very smart and suspicious. He suspects of some among us and Tashi, one who is responsible for ringing the class bell, is under his scrutiny. He is commonly known for being naughty and breaking rules by engaging in sports. Similarly, most of us are naughty in that same manner, but we are less known. As usual the disciplinary is somehow aware of him today as well and is determined to spy on him.

Out of the road, through the fields and the grasses, I reach the place which we confirm as ground in our plan. I am the first to arrive there and later on, the entire team will show up. As the team sets up, I position myself as the goalie. The ball is kicked and the game begins. Despite the rain and us falling in the mud numerous times, we keep playing.

While I am standing there, securing the goal post, at a glance I see some umbrellas moving behind the bushes. One umbrella, red and last in line, begins to jump up and down. It beckons my attention and I look in every direction; we are surrounded by monks from the disciplinary committee, but they are still far away from us. Among them, there is a monk who is a friend of ours. He was the one signaling us to run away by waving his umbrella- the red and the last one.

Instantly I think, what a bad day, we are certainly going to get caught.

“Run, run, they are here!” I shout.

Everyone flees like a flash in every direction. I take my bicycle and run until I reach the bank of a river which stops me from running further. The disciplinaries are catching up to me.

The water stream is quite strong so I can’t pass through it. I have no idea what to do but suddenly I notice two monks among us are hiding in the water bank while sticking their heads out. I copy their style, jump in myself and pull in my bicycle, pressing it down with my feet. I find some bamboo sticks to cover my head. We hide there for a while and wait for the disciplinaries to disappear. But between the bushes and trees, they are still searching for us. While a monk climbs a tree, one of the disciplinaries passes beneath the tree. Unfortunately, at the same time, the monk falls off the wet tree. The discipliner monk is so humble that he tells the monk to climb up again and hide there.

Back in the monastery, the chief discipliner is confidently waiting and looking at the clock. He knows today is the day he is going to prove Tashi guilty. He knows if he has gone to play soccer he won’t be able to return back to the monastery to ring the bell on time. So he waits until 6:30 PM, when evening class session usually starts. The bell rings on time and it is Tashi.

“How is that possible?” the chief discipliner asks, confused.

Tashi was a clever monk. While we all were hurriedly struggling to escape in fear, he had calmly packed his robes in a plastic bag. He had placed it on his head and walked through fields pretending to be a local Indian farmer. He tricked the discipliner monks and escaped, and made his way back to the monastery on time, he rang the bell. Once again the chief disciplinary missed his chance.

We waited until the patrolling monks were out of sight to avoid getting caught. Finally, we reached home late in the evening.

Reviewed By Natalia.


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