Monday, July 13, 2009

Red Water

After sending off my draft stories to my editor/publisher, I felt so light. So, I managed to do much more reading. I've also completed another one of my Turkey stories:)

Red Water - 1st Cut


He takes her straight to the thermal pool. They step up onto a low staircase and enter through the door. The scene before their eyes startles her. It feels like a whole different world altogether.

Rising steams make the walls seem hazy, causing the place to appear smaller than it actually is. Bubbles popping out of the hot reddish murky water makes the pool seem like a huge pot of boiling soup. Its rust-like mineral dregs remind her of a documentary of Planet Mars that she caught on National Geographic.

A Caucasian woman and child have just arrived. The little girl pulls off her top, puts on her bathing cap and slowly steps into the pool. Her mother follows suit.
“I come here a few times a week. My friend gives me a good rate.” He stresses again, in case she has forgotten. “Do you bring your… I don’t know what you call it, you know for swimming?”
“Swimsuit? No, I don’t.”
“Would like to come again? I can fetch you from your pension."

She thinks about it for a while. Obviously he is planning to swim too, to fully utilise the time he takes to drive her there. She squirms inside. Being in the narrow pool in the hot turbid water with an old man for company is too much for her to stomach...


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Striking Gold

On Tuesday evening, I finally submitted my first draft of short stories to my editor/publisher. There are 27 stories altogether. From experience, it will take around 2 months until the book is published.
Only the day before, my co-author from our first book was shortlisted for an international award for her solo collection. That is great news. It gives a strong recognition to Malaysian literature. The award provides a solid platform for our publisher to stand and strike big deals from. He can now directly market his books internationally.

It is hard to believe that it was only 2 years ago when we worked on our first book together. I've seen how much she has improved. Of course, she started at a slightly higher level than the 2 of us; her language command is stronger. Nevertheless, her win is a boost to all. It proves that dreams are not too far away. I am so inspired, but also very nervous. I know my editor/publisher is going to come down even harder on us now, if that's possible. After years of patiently searching for hidden gems, he has struck gold, finally:)
Below is my latest boarding school tale. I've wanted to include a racial piece in my upcoming collection. I am so glad that it came, even at the 11th hour.

Colours - 1st Cut


He pushes back the tip of his glasses and finally speaks. “Assalammulaikum.”
“Waalaikumsalam, Cikgu.”
“Before we start the session, why don't you introduce yourselves first? Let's start with you, Tok Batin.”

He gestured towards a plump and short boy seated next to him. His unusual choice of a nickname seems to fit as somehow the smart-looking lad does remind one of a village medicine man. We giggle quietly. The boy seems startled before regaining his composure and starts speaking confidently. “Assalammulaikum. I'm Nizam from Perak.” The teacher signals to the next person and we all take turn one by one.

Once we finished, he turns to the first boy again. “So, Tok Batin, tell us what made you choose this uniform?”

He looks puzzled.

“You are the only one here who is not dressed in light blue top and dark blue bottom. So, why? You like this colour?”
He looks down at his peach cotton shirt and dark brown pants. “Yes,” he grins.
“This is a good colour. It's a warm colour. Warm colours show courage.” He pauses for a while and turns to look at the rest of us. “Do you like blue?” He asks no one in particular. “Blue is a weak colour, it's the Malays' favourite colour. Blue and green. Chinese likes warm colours, red, orange and yellow.”

He points to my lap. “Even your file is blue.” He chuckles.