The Last Mooncake – A very short Story by Renuka Mendis

Honest to god I know not what I should do. There’s one desolate mooncake left and I don’t think I can bear the thought that it will be gone. Feels like I walked across cataracts between high mountains knitted to the sky, across a deep river in the Yangtze gorge to get to them. And to have no more mooncakes means I put myself so far away from that place they took me to; never to return until next mid-Autumn and its silver full moon. Who knows what might happen between now and then. Now and then that chasm of time.

Perhaps I should walk over to the Metro and get myself some chocolate and have a piece each time I go near the last mooncake. So I don’t eat it and disassociate with its magic.

At Christmas I put out a piece of Christmas cake, a cookie and a cup of milk. The milk turns to a yogurt after a few days when it gets sloshed down the sink out of Arjuna’s little boy milk cup. But the plate with the cake and cookie ends up in my little shrine space where i keep treasured things. And often i forget for months. This also happens when every few years I offer kiribath to the Buddha statute (yes yes i know big secret and all) which is also kept in said shrine space. They all dry out and turn into fossilized kiribath, christmas cake and cookie. I could fossilize similarly the last mooncake. The treasure.

I have solved my dilemma. May be this is where this was going from the very start of this mooncake journey. I had turned fully away from the Buddha over the last twenty or twenty five years having seen what was being done in its name. The hypocrisy of so called Buddhists. The cruelty. I doubt I’d ever turn to the Buddha fully again. Not that I ever had anyway. But on occasion there are passing glances. Especially since January 2015. A smidgen of comfort and solace to be drawn. A finding of a sense of vague equilibrium – Upeksha slightly tilted.

I think I have solved my dilemma. I will not eat the last mooncake. Indeed I ought to have offered the first mooncake to the shrine where the buddha, aiya’s photo, a family photo of my siblings, my most treasured books, and even the Dhammapada sits with my O/Level and A/Level Shakespeare texts. The first mooncake however was eaten by me. Instead I will offer the last mooncake on a pretty plate to that shrine and it will slowly dry out and who knows what it might turn into. So let me go light a candle and make an offering to the moon, to the Buddha, and if there is any goodness left in the universe; to that too. The last mooncake on my prettiest plate. Johnson brand, Hyde Park. And hauled in a suitcase from London, to Riyadh, to Colombo, back to Toronto.  I forget the

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big London store where I bought it and the whole set for twenty-five pounds.   Probably a good thing. That was too long ago when my braid was long and as thick as my wrist and fell all the way to my passa paththa inviting unnecessary attention.

And may be I’ll dream in my sleep that you are with me under the moon sailing down the Yangtze as Li Qingzhao recites her poem – thus:

It was far into the night when, intoxicated,
I took off my ornaments;
The plum flower withered in my hair.
Recovered from tipsiness,
the lingering smell of wine
broke my fond dream.
Before my dreaming soul could find
my way home.

All is quiet.
The moon lingers,
And the emerald screen hangs low.
I caress the withered flower,
Fondle the fragrant petals,
Trying to bring back the lost time.

And we can nibble at mooncakes in our dreams. Always. Forever.

Translation of poem by Li Qingzhao sourced from http://www.chinapage.com/poet-e/liqing-e.html.

Renuka Mendis, Toronto, October 2, 2015

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