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Cissy Wang had a thing for monks. If monks could have a fan club, she would have been their president.

The president for all of the monks. All of them.

She was that big of a fan.

She was in the third year of a business administration course at Huazhong Agricultural University. She had a great future ahead. Her parents were sure of that.

She would make a lot of money managing industrial watermelon fields. The bigger the better. Or if not watermelons, then fruit trees or pigs. Industrial mega pig farms! She’d be raking in the red envelopes, left, right and center.

A boon to society!

Her teachers, however, weren’t so sure.

Over the course of her three years at Huazhong Agricultural University, her attendance had become erratic. Several staff members had spotted her sneaking away from her unheated dorm room at 4:30am, heading in the direction of the nearest Buddhist monastery in her bathrobe and slippers, to wait at the gate for the monks’ morning procession.

She was always there, ready and waiting, in time for the great thunk of the morning hitting of the big chunk of wood and the clanging of the morning temple bell.

Her accounts on Renren and Weibo were chockablock with phone photos of blurry brown robes, blurry sandaled feet, blurry shaved heads, all decorated with animated hearts, anime cats and glitter GIFs.

Her essays for her course consisted mostly of descriptions of the monastery’s little vegetable patch.

Charts and graphs created on Google Sheets to monitor the growth of their carrots and their squash. Tables to estimate what they might be worth if sold in the local market. Rhetorical pieces on why it was morally wrong to grow more than you needed to live on.

Sometimes at the weekend she dragged her friends to come with her, to hang out at the front gates to watch the afternoon prayer processions.

One time, she recorded the prayer bells and the thunk of the wooden board and used that sample in a dance remix at the local disco. No one quite knew how to dance to it. There was a lot of awkward swaying.

One more year of accounting classes and she would be in there, inside that gate, where she belonged. She was ready.

Or, if not, then she’d still be their biggest fan. The president of their fan club. All of their fan clubs. All of their fan clubs and she’d be the business manager of that industrial mega pig farm.

It could go either way, really.

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