DRAFT: The Memory Tree

[This was the email I sent to Saigon Tai-tai, that sparked off our story discussion, which eventually led to the creation of this blog. The title “The Memory Tree” came to me like this: I was listening to an Enya album, which led me to think of an earlier album titled “The Memory Of Trees”. At that moment, I was thinking about how stories were a record of memories. So then the axioms in my brain must have fired and made the connections… “Memories + Song title “Memory of Trees” => Memory Tree => Tree that captured Stories”. Over the next few days, I whacked a few lines and an outline of the story was formed. What’s posted below is a mix of preliminary sentences in how I thought the story could develop. Notes/ commentaries are in italics].


It was a time of famine. The lands were parched, the sallow colour of earth.

“Sell your memories to me. A memory in exchange for a meal.” [an imp said this?]

“How do I sell it/ them?” [probably a boy asked this]

“Meet me by the old tree, the old one the red leaves that never fade throughout the seasons. Meet me by the light of the half-moon.”

The old woman was there. [Why old woman? Where did she come from? How does she fit into story?]

“Now speak of your memory.”
And the boy did.
“A copper coin for your memory.”

He brought back food for his starving brothers & sisters. He was tired but glad that they were fed. But each day when the harsh sun broke through the cloudless horizon, his sisters and brothers would cry.

So night after night, he would visit the old woman under the memory tree.

Soon, he realised he could not remember what fish tastes like. But no matter. My siblings are fed, that’s all that matters.

Soon he could not remember his childhood. But no matter, my siblings do not go to bed hungry each night.

One day, he could not remember their names. So he called them “Little Ones” and they laughed for they thought he was playing a game.

One day he could not remember his parents.

He realised he could not remember his name.

Finally, he could think of no other memory except those of his parents who were gone. He told of their gentle smiles and loving touch. Of how they would tend the fields for the children uncomplainingly. [“uncomplainingly”? Should be “without complaint, but that lacks a certain kick even though it’s grammatically correct]

“I wish to have my memories back. I only wish to have those of my parents.”

The imp refused. “A deal’s a deal. You sold them to me and you can’t have it!”

“I will work for you for a year. Five years. Ten! If only you’ll give me those memories back”, he pleaded. But to no avail.

The water buffalo overheard this and took pity on the ball. Together they hatched a plan to trick the imp. [Ok, how did the buffalo get into the picture? Too abrupt]

Stones! Stones and broken rock! [This was whwhen the imp discovered, i.e. tricked. But can’t figure out how it got tricked and why it got tricked]

The imp chased the boy, over the dry river bed.

“Return me the memories of my parents!”

Done! And he remembered.

“Now return me my name, and of my brothers and sisters!”


[Ok, that was all I wrote. Then I was stuck. What could the imp want so badly? How could the imp be tricked? Greed? I emailed this to Saigon Tai-tai and she added her comments. Will post that in the next post]


1 Comment

  1. April 29, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    […] [This was what Saigon Tai-tai came up with. She saw the Memory Tree story slightly differently. My earlier draft had the boy as the central character whereas Saigon Tai-tai’s version centred around the old woman telling the tale] […]

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