Raking Dragons

When I sinned my sin in drunken pride,
I used it to force compliance with my evil will.
When Heaven sent me down to the mortal dust,
I committed all kinds of wickedness down here.
I used to devour people in this cave,
Until I fell in love and married in Gao Village.
This rake has plunged beneath the sea to stir up dragons,
And climbed high mountains to smash up tigers’ dens.
No other blade is worth a mention
Besides my rake, the sharpest weapon ever.
To win a fight with it requires no effort;
Of course it always brings me glory.
Even if you have an iron brain in a brazen head and a body of steel,
This rake will scatter your souls and send your spirit flying.

“Thank you, Randall,” said Master Fu.

With a nod, the bespectacled storyteller closed his copy of Journey to the West and recused himself, leaving the shack that someone had labeled “KUNG FOO MONASTERY” to allow the master to teach his new students.

“I teach you this story to help teach you techniques,” Longwei Fu continued, his fractured English still better than his students’ Cantonese. “This but one of the many times Zhu Bajie boast of his power. Right after this one, Sun Wukong beat him senseless. Why should you remember it as I teach Raking Dragon Stance?”

The students, a rag-tag assortment if ever there was one, mulled it over. “Uh … is it to teach us the folly of pride?” asked the older man with the mechanical arm — Longwei hadn’t learned their names yet. He was wrong, anyway.

“Oh, maybe it’s to say that Zhu’s too stupid to use any of that stuff right, and so we gotta fight smarter, not harder?” offered the hairy guy in the fez. Longwei shook his head again.

“Does Zhu need to learn to do a thing by not doing that thing?” asked the drunkard from Shanghai. “I am pretty sure that’s how this Buddha stuff goes.”

With no obvious answer forthcoming, the group sat in silent consternation for a few moments. Then, the fat red ogre at the back grumbled. “I think you’re being too mean to Zhu. I still like him better than Sun Wukong.”

Longwei leapt to his feet, clapped and pointed. “Exactly! Zhu Bajie is glutton, sloth, not have one tenth the strength or powers of Sun Wukong, but he much better character! Every time Sun Wukong save his bacon, it doesn’t matter; Sun Wukong got too many powers. Every time Zhu beat Sun Wukong, make you want to cheer, right?”

The group’s faces lit up, as altogether they realized the lesson, and started to chatter about what their favorite part of the story was. “I get it,” said the Turk. “We’re not supposed to be perfect. We’re all messed up, right? And instead of denying it, we’re supposed get confidence and know that our flaws make us even better!”

“I … Sure, that too!”

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