THE BURNING MONK

Sayadaw Ashin Nanda bowed his head. A steady stream of vehicles passed by. Drivers stared at the monk. Fingering his prayer beads, he asked for answers.

The noise of the city faded into the background. He tried to recall what the scene would have looked like fifty years ago.

***

Thích Quảng Đức, the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, walked into the middle of the intersection on Phan Đình Phùng Boulevard.

He sat cross-legged. Five gallons of petrol were poured over him. He prayed, holding his beads. Then he struck a match.

The flames enveloped him, burning his flesh. He did not move, he did not scream.

The crowd watched. Placards decried the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. Some screamed, some prayed, some watched silently.

Press photographers took pictures.

***

Ashin Nanda opened his eyes. He thought of Myanmar, his homeland. He saw the flaming villages of the Rohingya Muslims in his country, set alight by Buddhist militants. He saw the fleeing women and children. He saw the bodies of the slain.

No-one answered his prayers.


Written as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story in around 150 words, based on the weekly photo prompt. Thanks as always to the challenge host Priceless Joy. For more information visit HERE.

To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

More information about the self-immolation protest of Thích Quảng Đức in Saigon in 1963 here: Wikipedia.

More information on the current plight of the Rohingya Muslims at the hands of the Myanmar military and police here: Wikipedia.

Glossary:
Sayadaw – a Burmese/Myanmar Buddhist senior monk or abbot.
Thích – surname taken by all Vietnamese monks.

 

37 responses to “THE BURNING MONK”

    1. Thanks Janet, hopefully a good ‘wow’? It is a bit of a heavy topic…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, a good wow. Moved me.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh my! What a horrific ending! Poor monk! Great story, Iain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks PJ – sorry for the serious subject matter – something more light-hearted next week 🙂

      Like

      1. LOL! Okay Iain! It was just a shocking ending.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was only a child in 1963, but later on as a young adult, I recall seeing that photo for the first time. It was horrifying, much like this Vietnam era photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely James. Ironically in a world with so many cameras and the internet now, photos like these that have such an impact seem rarer. The Burning Monk was featured in the recent TV documentary The Vietnam War – well worth a watch if you can get it – which is why it was on my mind when this prompt came up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think with the glut of information available to us in the digital age, nothing is able to stand out as iconic anymore. There’s just too much stuff to go through.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a shocking end. Reality strikes and how! Well written, Kelly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good use of history to highlight a topical issue. Very well crafted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Shocking and haunting. Great work, Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great work 💯
    Hope to read more from you 😇

    Liked by 1 person

      1. See some of my blogs as well hope you will like them 😇

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This gave me goosebumps …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Reena, always nice to hear writing has caused a reaction.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very well done Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, a hard-hitting tale indeed Iain. Brilliant.

    Click to read my FFfAW!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Keith, yes a heavy topic this week.

      Like

  10. I find it so hard to understand such levels of conviction. Great writing Iain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too, Michael, especially the hatred that religion can inspire in people.

      Like

  11. The plight of Rohingya muslims is a vey sad one, so much of hatred and wrath. I hope his prayers are answered someday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m afraid it will take more than prayers to help them. A terrible situation. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wov! It was a tragic tale that left its mark.
    Somehow I never saw the guy as a monk unlike most of the writers in FFfAW. Feels weird to think different I guess..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the joy of these prompts, all seeing something different.

      Like

  13. Truly, truly powerful storytelling. Very impressive Iain. Thank you for sharing the picture and the background. We all need to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. Thank you for the kind comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I am moved to say the least.
    Appreciate your dexterity to present such a topical tale Ian!

    Anagha recently posted “Not So Human Yet”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome and thank you.

      Like

  15. Powerful story, Iain. Good use of the historical facts that are true and sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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