Bryan Yap’s Life Story: “Your birth parents”

Saigon Tai Tai tells a story, through a video she made, about her son’s roots.

Born on 8/8/8 (8th Aug 2008), adopted at 16 days-old. His name is Bryan.

I thoroughly enjoyed this video.

A poignant addition to The Memory Tree.

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“The Beggar” by Lam Chun See

Mr. Lam Chun Chew, brother of my blogger friend, Chun See, recalls this story his mother told him when he was a kid:

There was this rich man who was a very extravagant and wasteful man, and a wouldn’t-care-less type of a person. Every day his horde of servants would throw away useful things. When preparing meals, the kitchen staff would carelessly spill large amount of rice into a drain which flowed down hill past a monastery…

Link

Joke from a friend

Friend (whom I called a Closet Comedian) emailed me this, which I thought was quite funny:

spoof spoof!

“the girl and the mammary tree” …
what did it have? milk fruit.
villagers gathered around the tree to keep a-breast of news.

*Ouch* heh heh
I replied to her, “I’m going to blog this” and also I wanted to share with the mailing list we belonged to, and she said Ok. I emphasised “SHE”.

Because later she said wrote back, “Sure. Go ahead. Just wanted to get it off my chest.”

Draft #6: The Imp, the Girl, and the Memory Tree

Refined from draft#5. Have retitled it “The imp, the girl,and the Memory Tree” to match the sequence of the story. Also tidied up a few words, moved up a line or two.

“Once upon a memory,” the village elders would always begin, as they started told their stories under the old tree. It was their tradition, for as long as the elders could remember, to tell stories at that tree.

By day, the villagers worked hard, farming and tilling the land. By night, they would gather under the old tree to listen to stories being told by the elders.

Sometimes there were new stories, and sometimes there were ones the villagers have heard before those told before. The villagers would smile at how the mouse-deer tricked the crocodile; how the rat outwitted the snake; how the frog escaped from the well. The villagers would laugh if it was a funny story. Sometimes they would cry if the story was a sad one.

One night, an imp chanced upon the villagers and their evening stories. Imps being imps, it had an evil heart. It saw how the villagers were enjoying themselves and it decided to play a trick on them.

Over the next few evenings, the imp secretly visited each of the villagers’ homes. The imp gave each of them a magic stone each. and the The villagers would be amazed to see beautiful images and lights from a simple stone, staring at it for hours.

Evening after evening, the imp tempted the villagers away from their nightly stories under the tree.

Through the imp’s magic, the stones showed different things each time they looked at it. The villagers were spellbound by the stones, so much so that they were too tired to do anything else. Some days, they were too tired to even go to the fields to tend their crops.

Night after night, one by one, the villagers stayed away from the gathering under the tree and preferred to just admire their stones.

Finally no one bothered to gather at the old tree.

When this that happened, the imp danced around the old tree and chanted gleefully, “Fools! Now there is no one left to share their stories”.

The imp thought it was all alone, but near the old tree was a young girl. She overheard the imp and realised it was the imp that used its magic to make all the villagers stay away.

She found her courage and confronted the imp.

“I know what you are trying to do!”

The imp turned around and when it saw that it was only a young child, it laughed.

“So what if you do? You cannot do anything. You are a child, weak and powerless.”

The imp creeped crept menacingly towards the girl. The little girl knew she could not fight the imp, nor run fast enough. She could only do what she did best — she started to recite the stories that she had heard so many evenings before under the tree.

She started reciting stories told of how the mouse-deer tricked the crocodile; how the rat outwitted the snake; how the frog escaped from the well. She told funny stories and some sad ones.

The young girl was frightened of the imp, but she refused to give in to her fear, and drew strength from the tree instead.

As she recited the stories Her voice carried into the night. One by one, the villagers came out of their homes, drawn by the familar sounds. The villagers rubbed their eyes. Something in the words woke them.

The imp’s spell was broken!

When the imp realised what had happened, it turned and ran off into the night. It was never seen again in that part of the land.

And so, “Once upon a memory,” the village elders would continue to say, as they shared their stories under the old tree once more. They now called then named their tree, the Memory Tree, for it was where they remembered…

I decided to leave the ending as it was. To make the kids think/ discuss about what it was the villagers remembered.

Draft #5: The girl, the Imp, and the Memory Tree

Decided to change to a young girl. Combined from draft 4 and earlier ones.

“Once upon a memory,” the village elders would always begin, as they started their stories under the old tree.

It was a tradition in the village, for as long as the elders could remember. By day, the villagers worked hard, farming and tilling the land. By night, they would gather under the old tree to listen to stories being told by the elders.

Sometimes there were new stories, and sometimes there were the ones the villagers have heard before. The villagers would smile at how the mouse-deer tricked the crocodile; how the rat outwitted the snake; how the frog escaped from the well. The villagers would laugh if it was a funny story. Sometimes they would cry if the story was a sad one.

One night, an imp chanced upon the villagers and their evening stories. Imps being imps, it had an evil heart. It saw how the villagers were enjoying themselves and it decided to play a trick on them.

Over the next few evenings, the imp secretly visited each of the villager’s homes. The imp gave each of them a magic stone and the villagers would be amazed to see beautiful images and lights from a simple stone, staring at it for hours.

Evening after evening, the imp tempted the villagers away from their nightly stories under the tree.

Through the imp’s magic, the stones showed different things each time they looked at it. The villagers were spellbound by the stones, so much so that they were too tired to do anything else. Some days, they were too tired to even go to the fields.

Night after night, one by one, the villagers stayed away from the gathering under the tree and preferred to just admire the stone.

Finally no one bothered to gather at the old tree. When this happened, the imp danced around the old tree and chanted gleefully, “Fools! Now there is no one left to share their stories”.

The imp thought it was all alone, but near the old tree was a young girl. She overheard the imp and realised it was the imp that used its magic to make all the villagers stay away.

She found her courage and confronted the imp.

“I know what you are trying to do!”

The imp turned around and when it saw that it was only a young child, it laughed.

“So what if you do? You cannot do anything. You are a child, weak and powerless.”

The imp creeped menacingly towards the girl. The little girl knew she could not fight the imp, nor run fast enough. She could only do what she did best — she started to recite the stories that she had heard so many evenings before under the tree.

She started reciting stories of how the mouse-deer tricked the crocodile; how the rat outwitted the snake; how the frog escaped from the well. She told funny stories and some sad ones.

The young girl was frightened of the imp, but she refused to give in to her fear, and drew strength from the tree instead.

As she recited the stories, her voice carried into the night. One by one, the villagers came out of their homes, drawn by the familar sounds. The villagers rubbed their eyes. Something in the words woke them.

The imp’s spell was broken!

When the imp realised what had happened, it turned and ran into the night. It was never seen again in that part of the land.

And so, “Once upon a memory,” the village elders would continue to say, as they shared their stories under the old tree once more. They now called their tree, the Memory Tree, for it was where they remembered…

I got stuck at the end… remembered what? Any ideas?

Draft 4: Opening paragraph – The Boy, the Imp, and the Memory Tree (was The Memory Tree)

I’ve decided to rename the title to “The Boy, the Imp, and the Memory Tree”. Darn but the first paragraph is tough. I’ve been putting it off but here goes:

A long time ago, there was a village. The people in this village was a hardworking bunch. They farmed and tilled the land. The land was fertile and with their hard work, the villagers prospered like the crops in their fields.

In the village there lived a boy. He was different from the rest of his friends, for his legs were weak from young. He could not run as fast or play as hard as his friends could. He hardly had any friends. The only time he was happy was in the evenings.

The village was also known for a grand old tree. No one knew how old that tree was. Every evening without fail, the villagers would gather under the tree to listen to stories being told. From the young to the old, they shared simple tales of what happened in the day. Sometimes they shared elaborate stories of things that happened in the past. They told of stories of lives past and present.

I decided to start simple and tell the story directly, using a narrative style. So Saigon Tai-tai, what do you think honestly?

References for the “Memory Tree” illustration

Photo references supplied by Saigon Tai-tai for the tree.

#1
coconut

#2

#3
TempleTree

#4
Tree_building

I love picture #3 and #4. It’s exactly how the Memory Tree would look like. Excellent!

Leaves of a story

The Saigon Tai Tai returns undefeated! She brandishes her pen against the thieves of the nite and cuts off the bandits in their paths with the colours of a tale (i feel like Calvin with Hobbes living on another plane :-)) 

I really like the drawing of your tree. It is a fine image of the memory tree… I like also like your idea of the tree feeding off the stories of the village. Infact, i had the feeling that the tree's leaves were each a story.

The only things i have (after the robbers robbed me of all my material goods and virtual ones including all my digital photos of Vietnam) are some of these tree pixes. Unfortunately, i was unable to load up the last image in my last post and that's been stolen too.. is it a reflection of the imp coming to life???!!!

And maybe it is… if the imp were like the robbers, stealing while we were asleep – then our memories is like the tree, for that the thieves were not able to steal. The stories passed down to generations after continues the life of a memory tree – even if it is through one boy.

Sorry, i am not sure how these thots can be grafted to Draft 2 or Draft 3. These are just some articulations after some personal anguish….. 

Draft: Burglary (working title)

burglary: noun ( pl. -ries) entry into a building illegally with intent to commit a crime, esp. theft. ORIGIN early 16th cent.: from legal French burglarie, from burgler…. related to Old French burgier ‘pillage.’

Am IMing with Saigon Tai-tai as I post this. Was asking her how’s things after the burglary (mentioned at the end of this post). She says still discovering things that were stolen, like her writing board. She doesn’t even have a watch to tell the time. But she quickly adds that one has to let go of those things, and that most important her family is safe and didn’t get poisoned by the theives or worse.

Why not make a story out of this mishap, I asked. So ok, here’s the outline:

  • Story, as told from the eyes of a young girl, starts with an introduction about her family — her mother (who likes to take photos), father (who likes to play golf), her younger brother (who’s only one year old), her grandma (who has a quiet smile), her family dog.
  • She also talks about her favourite things around the house. Like, “This is my room where I sleep and study. This is my Teddy Bear that I bring to bed everynight… This is my dog, Snowy. My brother is one year old, and he doesn’t know how to speak yet. This is my…” (you get the idea).
  • Then one day, the family discovers that their house has been broken into. They rush in and discover that things are missing. So they go about the house. “Oh No, the TV has been stolen”… “Oh No, my Teddy Bear has been taken”… (using the technique of repetition, which young children like in the story)
  • So the girl, the mother, the father all get very frantic. The mother said “They stole my camera with the pictures in them. They were some of my best. sob sob sob”. The father says, “My golf clubs! All gone!” why why why. Snowy the dog discovers his food dish missing. Woof woof woof (ok, can’t think of what the little girl might say)
  • Finally the grandmother (always the wise one) says “But there’s lots of things they didn’t manage to steal or take away from us”. They look around and at each other. And then the grandma said, “We still have each other, safe and sound”.
  • And the mother added, “That’s right” and held the father’s hand. The father smiled and held the girl’s hand. The girl smile and held her baby brother’s hand, thinking “Baby Brother is still here, his stinky clothes and all”.
  • And then grandma says “We still have our memories, and our love. They did not steal that.”
  • Optional ending: The girl discovers her crayons were still around. The mother gathered some paper and the whole family started to draw — the mother’s photos, the father’s golfclubs, the girl’s teddy bear. Grandma, she just sat and watched them and smiled her quiet smile.

Possible drawing for The Memory Tree

Tree in Park (19 Apr 2006)
“Tree in Park”, 19 Apr 2006. Pencil on sketch paper (scanned image: 976 x 875 pixels)

A possible reference sketch for the Memory Tree in the story. I envison the tree to be thicker and more regal. Perhaps this one could be the shrivelled version. A little photoshopping here and there, chop off the top and make the leaves bushier… Or perhaps I should think of a tree that’s closer to a Banyan that Saigon Tai-tai proposed in Draft #2.

[Reference: Tree in Park (Apr 2006)]

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