My first memory of books was the Ladybird ‘Peter and Jane’ series. My mom had gotten the entire series for me and my sisters, and I still remember vividly the words, “Peter, Jane, I like Peter, I like Jane, Jane likes Peter, Peter likes Jane” and so on and so forth. Best books evar.
My mom taught high school English for years, and when I was in primary school I was already reading secondary school stuff, mostly workbooks that we have all over the house. My favourites were the fiction compositions, stories and situations of this and that written in a narrative manner. I disliked non-fiction compositions and it was only a few years ago that I began reading non-fiction for leisure. Prior to that, no thanks.
My sisters were twins and four years older than me, and by the time I hit high school they had already left town. My parents worked hard to raise and provide for us, and I was often left to my own devices. It was a pretty lonely period growing up, but let’s not get into that. I started writing bits and pieces, mostly sentences and paragraphs that I thought would be great in a complete story, which I had many ideas for but never the motivation to begin.
We had a book about an adventurer and his quest to discover King Tut’s tomb as well as stop grave-robbers from plundering the hidden treasure. It was a wonderful story book; I read it all the time and for a while I thought of writing my own adventure story book, with research and details on Egyptian tombs. Of course I never went past the 2nd paragraph.
I also wrote poems, mostly in Malay because we were taught all the beautiful pantun, sajak and syair in school. My Malay childhood friends loved the one that began with, “Cempaka biru…”. I can’t remember the rest of the poem now, but I thought I was so great in this whole writing business. Little did I know, har har.
For some reason my classmates thought my English was damn good, seeing that I was always one of the few who received top marks in English. They did not realise that I could form nice sentences, but my grammar is koyak as hell because I never bothered brushing up on my use of grammar. That is something that plagues me today, and I still do not want to improve it by reading instructional books on the use of good grammar, tee-hee.
I had an English teacher, and if I am not mistaken, her name was Ms. Rani. One day she told us to write a story on abuse. I did and when I was handed back my book, there were the red lines underneath, “DO NOT COPY FROM OTHER PEOPLE, SEE ME!” Huh, wtf? I went to see her, and she asked if I had plagiarised from any books that I have read. I said no, it was an original composition. She smiled, struck out the lines she had written, and wrote, “GREAT WORK!” I was happy and encouraged, yay.
In my school we had an annual publication and the committee encouraged students to hand in their original essays to be included in the year book. Ms. Rani asked me to submit the story I had written for her class, and I did. It was published, some other students liked it and told me so, but that’s besides the point.
Prior to my story getting published in the year book, I was never interested in the school’s publications. I thought it was elitist and crap. You know, popular, English-speaking students versus the non-popular nerds. Same thing everywhere. Anyway after my story was published, I went to the library and checked out previous publications. One of them had a story about a neglected boy who suffered from the abuse of his much elder sister, and had no idea why it was so seeing that he had tried to be a good sibling. Nothing worked. Whatever. One day he went up the attic to discover his sister’s old diary and he had a jolly good time reading it. Haha, sounded like me because I used to steal my sister’s diary to read it :P She found out about it of course, heheh.
Anyway the boy soon discovered that his sister was raped and due to her fragile medical conditions, could not abort the unwanted baby. The unwanted baby was adopted by her parents, and the unwanted baby was him, the boy. Shitz, his sister was actually his mother! No wonder she was always so cold towards him, for he reminded her of the rape. Anyway the sister died due to leukemia, though not before the boy calling her ‘mom’ at the hospital bed for the first and last time.
That story made me cry buckets. Then I looked down to see the name of the author…
IT WAS MY SISTER, DUDE!
No, I am not her child. Bleh.
But it was quite shocking to me, because I was not so close to my sisters at that time, and I remember feeling so damn proud that she could write so damn well.
Of course I never told her that. It was somewhat a self-preservation thing, due to a myriad of feelings and circumstances that you, as an adult always hoped to have bridged when you were younger, but never did. She reads my blog anyway so she would see this lah. Herro.
Again, I had wanted to write about other topics but somehow just typed and typed on this. Want to watch CSI: NY now, will continue on part 2 later.