Joke of the Month: The Vow of Silence

A young man named Gino is accepted into a very strict monastic order which emphasises silence. Upon his initiation he is told that he will have the right to speak only two words to the head monk every 10 years. He is shown to his narrow cell and on his first night, he realises that a rat has invaded his mattress and the stuffing is coming out. He tosses and turns but finds it very difficult to get a good night’s sleep with the damaged mattress. However, being very dedicated to his spiritual calling, he endures the situation for 10 years. Finally, he finds himself in front of the head monk. The monk regards him sternly and nods, indicating that Brother Gino can now speak. Gino says, “Damaged mattress.” The head Monk scribbles a note in his ledger and gestures to the door.

Later, workmen come and bring a new mattress. Gino is very happy about his new mattress as this means that for the first time in 10 years he will be able to have a decent sleep. Once the workmen have left, however, he discovers that they have broken a part of his window while moving the mattress. Cold winds blow, followed by torrential rains. The rain enters his room through the hole in the window and makes his new mattress wet. He has a terrible time trying to keep warm in his damp blanket and wet mattress.

The years pass, and finally it is time for him to see the head monk again for his two words. He sits in front of the head monk despondently and says: “broken window!” The head monk nods and scribbles a note in his ledger, then shows Gino to the door.

Workmen come and fix the window and Gino feels better than he has in years. He believes he will at last get a wonderful cozy sleep without danger of wind and rain coming into his cell. However, as he is getting ready for bed he realises that in fixing the window, the workmen have somehow broken the leg of his bed. The bed is tilted at a crazy angle and all night he finds himself sliding down sideways. 10 more years pass.

Finally, Gino finds himself in front of the head monk again. The head monk is now old and stooped and Gino has greying hair and looks haggard. The head monk taps his cane on the floor indicating that brother Gino can speak. Gino says: “I’m leaving!” The head monk replies, “It is to be expected. Since you have come you have done nothing but complain!”

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