Posts Tagged ‘owls’

Four of China’s great folktales: Legend of the White Snake, Lady Meng Jiang, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (The Butterfly Lovers), and The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid have a very strong influence on this story. I grew up watching various versions of these folktales and fell deeply in love with them. This is my personal homage to epic tales of love and loss, tragedy and comedy, earthly and heavenly … on a small scale.

The beginning of the story where the protagonist travels to a deserted place somewhere off Kamunting is based on one of my frightful experiences. I took the night train back to Taiping and reached at about three in the morning. There was only one taxi and the driver was an old man who probably had insomnia (I’m guessing that’s why he had his taxi service at that hour). I got in and sat in the back and a brawny man got in to sit in the front. The taxi driver decided to drop the man off first since his destination was closer than mine. It was a nice enough nighttime for all three of us to travel.

The man directed the taxi driver towards Kamunting and then the journey went beyond shop lots, housing areas, and even street lights. Before we knew it we came upon a dirt road and the sides were overgrown with extremely tall lalang grass. I was calm and naive to it all this until I saw the old man’s eyes in the rearview mirror. They told me they could not protect me. They told me he was a frail old man. They told me we were both going to die. I cringed in the backseat thinking I would not live long enough to be a writer to tell this tale.

The brawny man stopped the taxi driver quite abruptly in the middle of nowhere, paid him, and got off in a flash before cold sweat could even take form. I looked around but there was no sign of life except for the grass so tall it could be a corn field. The taxi driver made a quick u-turn, sped us out of the godforsaken place, and we said nothing until I reached home. He made sure I was safely inside, locked the gates, went into the house, and closed the doors before he left.

The danger only dawned on me when I was home and wondering what the hell just happened.

Advertisements