The abbot’s pen

September 4, 2006

Funny place, Thailand. Some time ago I was asked if I would do a favour for the abbot of a temple about 60 miles from Chiang Mai. I’d met the abbot a few times, a studious looking fellow in his sixties, who peered benignly over the thick lens of his spectacles and, apart from chanting endless Pali prayers, didn’t seem to have much to say for himself. Anyway, the request was would I buy him a pen in Chiang Mai as he was too frail/busy to come into town himself. Oh, and he particularly liked Parker pens. So, obligingly, I sought out a rather nice Parker in one of the local bookshops, choosing one which I thought would be appropriate for someone in his august position. I even included a couple of spare refills. I sent it to him as my donation to the work of the temple. Some time later I began to hear odd remarks about the abbot. Apparently he had gone missing. Later I heard that there had been a problem with one of the children in the village school he ran. Finally, it emerged that a five year old boy had complained to his parents that for the last year the abbot had been doing nasty things to him. When questioned, it appeared that the nasty things included inserting a pen in an orifice not normally used for storing pens.  The best efforts of the Chiang Mai police were not proving successful in tracking him down. I thought of suggesting that they look in the local pen shops but then I thought better of it- I might well be accused of aiding and abetting the crime.

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