Nostalgia: A night walk at a forbidden temple

Jan. 17, 2024, 10:38 p.m.

I was walking through a desolate village when I came across this dilapidated temple. 

The rain here has long stopped, but I could feel its drops once more as I traced its marks on the broken bricks. It has kissed here, tangled here, circled here, tossed here, tortured here, never giving a clear signal of what, how, why and for what. I could smell the ancient dampness infiltrating the crevices of the cement and wood pillars, a smell that captured the steps of every raindrop arriving here.

Tonight is truly cold. I gazed at the moonlight, affectionate and tender, yet strangely inexplicable, lingering as it descended, as if scared of the unknown on its usual pathway. I am a lover of moonlight. I understand every tinkle of its loveliness and intricacy, its every move of delight and sorrow. Are you, my beloved temple, like it, as well?

As I entered the garden of the temple, I imagined its glorious past, with footprints of the many. Emperors, princes, princesses, ministers, politicians; pupils, apprentices, businessmen, citizens; beggars, people with severe disabilities, the homeless. Many, if not all, have been blessed by the metaphysical power of the temple. 

In the interior of the temple, I saw a broken figure in gold with many more broken golden pieces scattered around — it was a god. Out of this chaos, the faded golden color was still very bright, bright enough to be described as magnificent and divine. Shadows of people appear in my vision. A middle-aged man in black, a young girl wearing a white wreath, a pregnant woman wearing glasses and a grandma on a crutch all walk toward the center and kneel in front of him, praying with their hearts about the trivial things in their lives. 

“My son has been enlisted for two years now, and we still haven’t heard back from him. Please bless him!”

“I found a candy on my way back home yesterday. Thank you, God, for giving me that candy.”

“Pray, God forgive us. My daughter has stolen a sweet potato yesterday. She didn’t mean to steal. She is only starving to death. We should take the blame for being unable to take care of her.”

Gradually, the echoes of the prayers dissolved. The face of God appears. A hushed reverence fell as I gazed upon the divine countenance, illuminated by a shirk of ethereal light through the spaces of the wooden roof.

How could a temple that has such a glorious past be abandoned? 

As my thoughts wandered, a voice, soft as a whisper in the breeze, echoed in my mind: What is lost is what is found.

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