Taiwan: praying for a new place
Jacob leads the way into the smoky compound. We’re in the most famous temple of Taipei city, which is also the first temple I have ever step into after thirty days in Taiwan. Rather than drawing a divination lot, I am much more allured to the exquisite carvings and the psychedelic colors on the wall.
It is a splendid morning on a windy Autumn day. Finally, a cloudless blue sky after weeks spent in murky weather. An unavoidable overwhelming sensation dawn upon me. Moments of the entire trip lurked in my memory – pellucid turquoise waves crashing down on me in Kenting, standing on top of humongous stones in Hualien, gazing at the infinite night lights of Taipei on top of Mt. Yangming etc. This is it, this is the end of my trip, and the end of my long acquired freedom.
“C’mon, I’ll teach you how,” Jacob interrupts my serialization of thoughts. After thirty days in Taiwan, he managed to persuade me into drawing a lot. No harm trying. He hands me two red moon-like shaped wooden pieces and teaches me step-by-step, but most importantly, he emphasizes, “keep the question you have in mind all the time”.
Yes, indeed. My brain is congested at that specific moment, mostly with fragments and residues from the discontinued thinking session earlier on. I walk around teary-eyed, fascinated by the artistry of history left behind on the wall, overpowered by the strength and belief hold by people praying toward an idol. I kneel down on the soft padded cushion placed on the ground. “Keep the question you have in mind all the time.” Jacob’s advice echoed within for a while before this specific question hits me and I feel I need to have an answer to it.
I proceed the steps with caution. The entire process takes less than ten minutes and in exchange for the lot – number sixty-six – I now got a pink slip filled with unfamiliar Chinese characters. Without understanding any of it, my line of vision turns toward an elderly man sitting behind a counter. I approach him with some skepticism and a mere tingle of hope. What I got in return was an affirmative answer to my doubts that has been waylaying itself under the mask of freedom. My eyes lit up upon the words pouring out of the wrinkled man’s lips.
People are coming in and out of the temple’s front gate, and I stare at the picturesque sky in front of me. I am most certainly awe-stricken by what I perceived as a traditional superstition when Jacob finds me at the front door of the temple. He ask curiously, “so tell me, how was it?” I feel the piece of vulnerable pink slip in my hands and look at him and say, “I’m going to my next destination, my home”.
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