Oct 13, 2010

Waiting 'round the bend

I use to write often as a child. Short stories here and there. Then as I grew older, I didn't have time to write so I drew on paper with a 2B pencil. Scribbles, doodles all the time. I never kept them. Now I have to re-write them again. Hopefully, in my blog, it stays archived too. So I won't lose it again.

Many who read my blog commented that I wrote very well. That credits my dad. Who was a great influence to me when it comes to reading books, both fiction and non-fiction. He also decides what I should watch. As a child, my dad use to love to go the cinemas to catch a movie during the school holidays. Since he was also an English teacher in a school in Singapore, school holidays meant he didn't have to go to work.

When I was in Primary school, all my peers read Enid Blyton's fairy tales or the Children's classic stories like Goldilocks or Cinderalla. I didn't. My dad decided what I should read and check on me to make sure I read them. He would test me with questions about the characters in the story and see if I knew or just pretended to read the book.

My dad listens to the radio but only tune in to BBC or British Broadcasting Channel. For years, in his car as he drove...we only get to hear BBC and that British accent. My dad thinks its the best English with all the right pronounication. He was quick to correct me all the time when I spoke and pronounced words wrongly.

I remembered when I was in P6(12 years old), my dad bought a condensed version of Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the sea". A child's version for me to read. And he said :

"Ting, read this book. No skipping between the lines and tell me what you think of the Old Man. I also need you to tell me why this story is unique as compared to all the others you have read"

Good grief! I can't read a book like most kids can. My dad never allows me to read a book with a lollipop stuck between my gums. Or popping in biscuits. He said when your mind is pre-occupied with munching, chewing something, you will be distracted and cannot fully comprehend the story.

If you have read this book, you will know what I mean here:

Its the worst book I have ever read in my life. Its the most BORING book I have come across. As a child of 12 years of age, I have no idea why my dad would want me to read such a boring book. I can't think of anything to tell my dad about the book or the characters in the story.

But there were lessons to be learn..from this old Boring Classic. Something that most people won't think of. My dad said :

"Yes, its boring. Its boring because there seems to be no plot or hero to be mentioned or talked about. The story is about an old man who went fishing in the big wide ocean. He managed to catch a very big fish...a Marlin(a fish with long sword like horn on the tip of its nose) in his little row-boat. And the story is just about him, and the sea and the fish and the after math when he rowed back to shore.."

And he continued to say :

"Why is it important to read this book? What is so great about it? Its the background of the story..look at it this way, there is no big plot, there is actually no big story or excitement at the end of it. What I wanted you to read was the way it was written. About the way he describe his journey, his 'adventure' on sea, how he explain the loniliness, the sea, the weather, and later the excitement when he caught the fish.

This book is all about illustrations..in the literal form. The next thing to do now is to watch the movie. Do you know that it is often difficult to act out an emotion written ?"

It was through this simple boring book that sparks off my ever lasting journey of what I often call as "Reading a Movie". Means you read the book, then watch the movie. If you manage to watch the movie before you read the book, you will not appreciate the book and the way the author is trying so hard to write his/her thoughts.

I chose Moon River as my song for this post because its one of the movies I use to watch with my dad. Brings back many many wonderful memories of my childhood days. "Moon River" is a song composed by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini (music). And was use in the movie which I think everyone knew "Breakfast at Tiffany's" . The title of my post is one of the lyrics(lines) in the Moon River song..

You know..if you have been following my stories here at my blog, you would have read about my ex boss, Ms Su-Chzeng. When she interviewed me for the job, one of the things she ask me was "what kind of books I read when I was a kid". This was my list to her:

The Old Man and the Sea
The Time Machine
The Pearl
Black Beauty
Frankenstein's Monster

And I also told her my dad use to make me read poetry by William Woodworth. Su Chzeng used to think that no kid would read the above books..and if she ever found someone who reads that, that person must be one to work with her. Because Su Chzeng use to teach English Literature at Oxford University in London before she quit and worked as Editor for literacy works and book publishers.

Now that PSLE exams are over, Melody tells me her grandfather, (my dad) is bringing her out on a shopping spree...to buy story books to read.

That's my dad..and that is one of the many reasons why I loved him and respected him. He teaches us and brings out the best in us.

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