Chapter 5

EXILE

Kanika joined her cousin Jinyoung at the hotel lobby and proceeded for their lunch. Jinyoung seemed to be in a better form compared to this morning.

“It appears you are well rested,” Kanika stated.

“Indeed, I am. I din’t expect the journey to hit me this hard. How was your day?” Jinyoung enquired.

“The day went pretty well, I didn't hope to make sense of a ton of things on the very beginning of my work, however cheers to the person who I met today. He made it simpler for me,” Kanika grinned.

“That’s good to know. Sorry that I slept in and din't go with you. I guarantee I will be there for your up-and-coming timetable,” Jinyoung mentioned.

“Relax brother, I don’t need a babysitter. Also I get  the chance to appreciate the aesthetics of Yien when you are not there being a over protective brother,” Kanika smirked.

“Should I be concerned about this Yien? Where is he from? What does he do? Furthermore, how do you know him?” Jinyoung questioned Kanika, looking at her suspiciously.

“There it is. Always the overbearing sibling. I am just teasing you brother. You need not stress over me working with Yien. Although he can be a showstopper on the runway in Milan, it would seem that he is headed to be ordained as a monk,” Kanika stated.

“He is exceptionally intriguing though. He doesn't appear to be someone who belongs here. He isn't a monk, yet he shaved his head, and he wears robes. He went to college, and he is proficient. I bet he can land a decent job with his credentials, however he remains in this tiny town and commit his life to be a monk,” Kanika expressed.

“Isn't it a ton of personal data you assembled from a stranger you just met? In all honesty I am stressed now, it appears you are demonstrating more enthusiasm on this Yien than to your task on hand,” Jinyoung indicated.

“For your information, the only discovery I made today of Yien is that he is breathtakingly beautiful and he dresses like a monk. I knew his name and his capabilities ahead of time and I decided to get his help on this task because of his accreditations. I am not bewitched by him if that is the thing you are stressed over. I acknowledge magnificence when I see it,” Kanika countered.

“Allright, don’t get worked up. I was just teasing you. I know you are naturally inquisitive, however I don't need the other individual to confuse your curiosity for interest. Also, you being who you are should be extra cautious about who you associate with,” Jinyoung forewarned.

“Ok big brother. Enough of parental guidance. Bambam is significantly more fun than you. For your information, Yien is a wonderful human. He is respectful and honest, you need not stress over him attempting to win me over. Regardless of whether I want him to sweep me off my feet, there is a remote possibility of that ever occurring. So give your over analyzing brain a rest and let me continue my assignment in harmony,” Kanika requested.

Jinyoung was tossing in the bed, staying in bed till mid afternoon seemed to be a poor idea now. He watched a movie for a while and had a video call with Jaebeom and Yeojin. He had a go at reading a book, however he was unable to make himself keep perusing. He was feeling bored, he wanted to sit with Kanika yet he realized that she headed to sleep right on time as she had her schedule planned for tomorrow.  

His thoughts went to the conversation he had with Kanika. He knew that his sister is level-headed and mature beyond her age. She won’t fancy herself into romance in the unlikeliest of places. However, Jinyoung had to admit he is fascinated by his sister’s description of Yien.

Kanika found Yien breathtakingly beautiful, for a person with a shaved head and in monk’s attire, how is it be possible? Would anyone be able to look great without hair on their head? Also Kanika addressed him as beautiful, that an odd choice of word to describe an attractive man.

Is Yien as angelic as Kanika potrayed him to be? What if Yien is truly exquisite? Jinyoung reprimanded himself, why is he even speculating on how attractive Yien is? Goddamit the guy’s head is shaved and he is about to become a monk, Jinyoung get your head out of the sewer. How long has it been since he got laid, about two months? For the love of god, he can't in any way, shape or form have a single night rendezvous here.

“Good morning brother, how did you sleep?” Kanika enquired.

Good day sis, I had decent sleep. So are you charged for the day?” Jinyoung asked.

“Lets have our breakfast, the driver will be here shortly,” suggested Kanika.

“So are we meeting this Yien fellow today?” enquired Jinyoung.

“Please don’t try anything brother, be nice,” Kanika requested.

“Hey I trust you. I know that you are mature enough to not mix work with pleasure, so don’t worry,” Jinyoung assured.

“The topic is not about me. I am warning you, flirting with Yien is not acceptable,” Kanika stated.

“I am truly insulted. What do you take me for? I have standards sister. I don’t fancy over anyone and everyone let alone share a night with them,” scoffed Jinyoung.

“Just giving you a heads up brother, I want you to be on your best behaviour or you won’t be accompanying me here after,” Kanika stated.

The cousins had their breakfast and reached their destination after a short ride from their hotel. Kanika informed Jinyoung that he could go around and explore the monastery while she can get some work done. She informed him that he could find her in the courtyard behind the monastery.

Jinyoung strolled around the Kurjey Lhakhang monastery, the place symbolized tranquility. The hallways are filled with delicately carved wooden pillars and arches. The monastery was surrounded by a wall which had little pagoda shaped domes adorning them. The backdrop of the monastery was magnificient, it was surrounded by greenery. The main temple walls and ceiling had vibrant drawings illustrating the teachings of lord Buddha.

Relatively few monks were around the monastery, he saw a few praying in the main temple and few were cleaning the premises,  they greeted him with a smile and went on with their work. Time appeared to be paused here. It was such a stark contrast from his life in America or in Korea. No one seemed to be in a rush. It gave the feeling the fast paced modern world din’t have any effect on this place. This place seemed to be locked in a time capsule.

He sat on the steps facing the stupa. Jinyoung wondered if he could ever lead his life in such seclusion and monotony. He noticed a monk praying at the stupa, once the monk finished praying he bent down to grab some papers and a laptop off the floor and started walking towards the stairs where Jinyoung was seated.

It was such an odd sight, a monk carrying a laptop, Jinyoung a few moments ago assumed the modern world and its innovations din’t reach this place, it just proved him technology can reach the remotest parts of the world and even with such technology around places like this monastery despite everything held tranquillity.

As the monk came closer to where he sat a thought struck him. Could this be Yien that his cousin mentioned about? That would explain the laptop in the monk’s hand. He stood abruptly, staring at the monk.

The monk seemed to notice Jinyoung’s sudden movement and paused.

“Tashi Delek, how may I help you?” the monk asked Jinyoung with his hand pressed together at his chest and a pleasant smile.

Jinyoung for a moment was at a loss of words. This stranger's voice and his smile took aback him. His eyes, lips, nose, oh dear god he was blatantly staring at the monk now.

“Ah my cousin, I mean are you here for her?” Jinyoung stammered.

“I apologize, I don’t understand what you are referring to,” the monk replied.

“I am sorry. By any chance, are you Yien? The one working with my cousin?” Jinyoung enquired.

“I am Yien. But I am not sure who your cousin is? Does he work here?” Yien enquired.

“Kanika is my cousin’s name. I believe you are helping her out with her assignment,” Jinyoung stated.

“Oh, are you here for Her Royal Highness? You can follow me, I am on my way to meet her. We may find her in the courtyard behind the monastery,” Yien suggested.

“Unfortunately I am not sure how to address you,” Yien stated.

“Oh my bad, you can call me Jinyoung.”

“It seems that you are related to her royal highness, please educate me if there is a title that I need to address you with,” Yien stated.

“Oh don’t worry about it. I don’t hold any titles like my cousin. You can call me by my name,” Jinyoung suggested.

Yien lead them to the courtyard behind where Jinyoung could see Kanika measuring something. They strolled towards where she was.

“Good morning Yien, I see you have met my cousin,” Kanika expressed.

“Good morning, Your Highness. I hope you are having a pleasant day. Your cousin was looking for you and I informed him that you would be here,” Yien replied with a smile.

Kanika gave a sharp look at Jinyoung. He knew where to find her. He just made an excuse to talk to Yien. Jinyoung had a grasp of what’s running in his sister's mind and he smiled sheepishly.

“Brother now that you have the knowledge of where to find me, may I ask the reason behind you looking for me,” Kanika smirked.

“I was looking around and couldn’t find you anywhere. I wanted someone to give me a tour of the place. I am very much interested to know about the history of this monastery and how the monks lead their everyday life,” Jinyoung replied.

“You can find that information on Google,” Kanika replied.

“I can find the pictures of this monastery on Google, I din’t need to make a trip so far just to search for information on web for the place I am standing in,” Jinyoung smirked.

“Your Highness, If it pleases you I can take your cousin around and provide him with information,” Yien suggested.

“I don’t want to impose on you, Yien. It is unnecessary,” Kanika replied.

“It would be my pleasure to share the history of this place, Your Highness. I can take your cousin around once we are done with the task for the day,” Yien suggested.

“Thanks a ton. I appreciate you taking time to be my guide. I will leave you both to proceed with the work. Yien I will wait for you in the main temple,” informed Jinyoung and started walking away before Kanika could say anything.

Jinyoung was staring endlessly at the paintings on the walls and ceiling of the inner sanctum, waiting for Yien. This definetly would be the most unusual place he has picked to flirt.

“Mr. Jinyoung, shall we start the tour,” Yien’s voice brought him out of his reverie.

“Ahh Hi, Yes please lead me,” Jinyoung replied with a smile.

Yien started with the history of the place. He explained what the drawings on the walls signified and the story behind them. They walked all around the monastery, while Yien talked about various rituals conducted every year and the significance of those rituals. He went in detail about how monk’s lead their day-to-day life.

Jinyoung paid more attention to Yien rather than the structures he was pointing at. He examined his features discreetly. Under the long sweeping eyelashes, Yien had hazel eyes with a hint of green in them. His nose was prominent but with soft bends, he had bow shaped plush pink lips. He had a tenderly sun kissed skin. Yien under the monk’s robes had a slender body, and long delicate fingers. Jinyoung realized that even with a shaved head, Yien looked ethereal.

“May I ask you a few questions pertaining to yourself,” Jinyoung stated.

“Please go ahead,” Yien replied.

“I am made aware that you have bachelors and a masters degree. Why be a monk, when you can get a job and have a decent life?” Jinyoung enquired.

“Do you find being a monk not decent enough?” Yien questioned.

“Ok, let me rephrase the question. Why are you not interested in getting a job after investing many years in educating yourself?” Jinyoung stated.

“I lived in this monastery all my life, it is a part of who I am. I went to university to gain knowledge so I can be resourceful for the monastery and this little town. If I light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten my path.”  

“Remote places like these doesn’t attract young graduates, there are no Fortune 500 companies are fat pay checks in this remote valley. I can dedicate my life here for the monastery and the people living in this valley. I can share my knowledge with anyone interested in learning,” Yien explained.

“You can serve the monastery and this little town even without being a monk. Doesn’t your family wish for you to be married and have a family of your own?”

“The monastery is my home and the monks are my family. They are happy that I am here and I am content on being home,” Yien replied.

“Wouldn't you say you are squandering your life here? You are youthful, attractive and has good accreditations. Why wear these rags and beg for food when you can live a better life?”

“What makes you think I am wasting my life? How are my robes different from the clothes you wear, they both cover the body? We eat food to endure, it doesn’t matter if it’s porridge or an elobrate seven course meal.” Yien replied.

“You mentioned earlier that you spent all your life in this tiny valley. Don’t you think you are similar to a frog in the well which is ignorant of the world beyond the walls of the well.”

Before Yien could answer Jinyoung’s question they heard Kanika’s voice “There you are, I have been looking for you, brother, if your guided tour has ended we can let Yien go for the day,” Kanika’s spoke as she walked towards Jinyoung.

“Ya we are done here sis. Thank you Yien for your time, I will see you around,” Jinyoung stated.

“Yien I appreciate your input for my project, I am glad that I got to work with you. I would have welcomed you for dinner to show my gratefulness, however I am mindful that you would decline my offer.I want to show gratitude by volunteering at the monastery in your absence. Please don’t deny me of this oppurtunity, it would mean a lot to me,” Kanika requested.

“Your Highness, it is my pleasure assisting you on the project. I wouldn’t deny you of the chance to serve god, if it makes you happy. I believe you won’t be around when I am back from my trip, hope you have a safe journey home and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any further assistance,” Yien replied.

“Are you going somewhere? I thought you were assisting my cousin with her project,” Jinyoung enquired looking at Yien.

“It is all done brother, I got all the help I needed from him. I can work on the rest alone.” Kanika stated.

“Once again thank you Yien. Please let the concern person know that I will be volunteering at the monastery tommorrow. Please take care of your self, we will take our leave,” Kanika said.

Jinyoung was not pleased on the turn of events. He just met Yien, even before their story begun it ended so abruptly. He took a final glance at monk to be and gave him a small smile before leaving the premises with his cousin.

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