Wednesday, May 08, 2019

short story

I just wrote this story for a study packet I'm making at work. The chapter is about vegetarianism and vegetarian options. I've tried to write essays and articles that show pro, con, and neutral perspectives when it comes to this lifestyle. Since this chapter is also about persuasive, expository, and narrative writing, I wrote and included the following little story as an example of narrative writing that has at least something to do with vegetarianism and its ethical dimension. Enjoy.

Hee-jin loved coming to the temple. Sometimes, the monks allowed her to work in their fields and gardens. Once or twice, she even helped in the kitchen. The monks woke up when it was still nighttime, around three in the morning, and Hee-jin woke up with them. Mealtimes were always quiet; at other times of the day, Hee-jin could ask questions. And that’s how she heard about the local tiger.

The monks whispered about the tiger; some were afraid of him, but not the Juji-sunim, the head of the temple. He was an old man who loved nature and all living things, and he said that he had already had many interesting discussions with the tiger. Hee-jin was surprised. “The tiger can talk?” she asked. “If you have ears to hear,” said the old abbot, “then yes, you can understand the tiger when he speaks.”

Morning. 3 a.m. Dark outside. Hee-jin slid open her cell door and breathed in the fresh mountain air. A huge shadow detached itself from the background and crept silently and smoothly toward her, almost seeming to float. Hee-jin froze in terror.

“You are Hee-jin,” said the tiger in a deep, rumbling whisper. It was not a question. Hee-jin, deathly afraid, only nodded. The tiger continued: “You have something you want to ask.”

Hee-jin’s mind raced. She had a thousand questions, but she didn’t know which one to ask. Suddenly, she thought of food.

“Tiger,” she asked, “when I come to the temple, I eat only fruits and vegetables because the monks say it’s bad to kill animals. Do you kill animals when you’re hungry?”

“Yes,” rumbled the tiger. “It is my nature. You act according to your nature; I act according to mine.”

“Maybe… maybe we can teach you to stop killing,” said Hee-jin, knowing her words might be insulting.

The tiger startled her by laughing loudly enough to shake the whole temple. “You can try, little girl,” said the tiger with a terrible smile, “and while you teach me to eat plants, I will teach you how to fly like a hawk!” With that, the tiger, in perfect silence, crept back into the mountain forest.


The Maximum Leader said...

I like the story very much.

Kevin Kim said...

Humble thanks, good sir.

John Mac said...

Very nice. I thought the tiger was going to eat her, glad it had a happier ending...

Charles said...

Nice reference to Korean folklore there.

(And maybe I'm dark, but I thought the story would have been better had the tiger actually eaten her. Would've driven the point home more forcefully. Probably not appropriate for the situation, though.)

Kevin Kim said...

John and Charles,

I thought of the little girl as my point-of-view character, which means the story would have immediately ended had she been eaten. I suppose the tiger could have eaten her, and then the story's focus would have had to shift to the tiger, but I wanted him to remain somewhat numinous, like a force of nature. Through a Christian lens, the story might look and feel like an encounter with the divine, a hierophany, which is also kind of what I was going for. But along with the whiff of Christianity, I threw in the requisite Buddhism with the "act according to one's nature" quote, a reference to dharma, which might also be relevant to discussions of ethical vegetarianism. Is it right to force animals to adopt our ways? Some crazy folks try to make their dogs and cats vegan, after all, so this is an actual issue. See more here.

Charles said...

Some folks just shouldn't be allowed to have pets. I'll leave it at that.