Mudlark No. 55 (2014)

The Mingun Bell

The second largest iron bell on earth is spattered with graffiti, 
which did not prevent me from having to pay the three dollar 
“Archeological Zone Fee” for the privilege of beholding another

defiled artifact. This bell no longer rung with purpose, struck only 
by foreign tourists willing to pay the requisite one kyat to take 
the wooden mallet from a schoolboy’s hand, who’s turned his day-

long truancy into an occupation. The robes of child novices flapped 
like wings in the riverside breezes: nuns in bright pink, monks in dark 
cranberry. They accosted me with their wooden alms bowls and 

rudimentary English, asking, “where are you from?” If I’d been some 
wise ass, I might’ve answered, which incarnation are you referring to? 
Instead, I gave them most of what I carried in my daypack: two pears, 

two samosas, some small denomination notes. I gazed into their sinless 
faces: expressions neither disappointed nor elated, while ruby-dappled 
generals oversaw the trafficking of laboratory heroin and old-growth teak. 

A sudden monsoon downpour! Soldiers and villagers all scurrying 
for shelter. Only the plump stone Buddha in a rain-soaked lotus, 
sat unmoving, chortling, as the law requires, without a sound.

Peter Marcus | The Unspoken
Contents | Mudlark No. 55 (2014)