The Temple

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A piece of short story written by me as a student on 14/7/1982. It was published in our school newsletter.

The Temple

Ah Chye and his mother were standing in a small crowd in a small room. They were unusually quiet paying the closest attention to a miniature but very energetic creature chanting gibbersih unintelligible phrases. It was done in a somewhat controlled rhythmic manner. Only his assistant standing beside him could understand and interpret the pattern of his repeated phrases.

When Ah Chye lifted his head and turned around, he saw many more things he had not known. The ever present redness of the surroundings and the heavy aromatic smell of incense were something he anticipated but his innocent mind had not expected to discern the “next world” – the world of spirits – in this tightly packed abode.

His coming to this world and living with his people for slightly more than a decade had given him some insight into their philosophy of life. Though he had a rather small and not yet fully developed mind, he had had enough good sense to link what he had heard. By so doing, he had deduced that the next world was actually a world of two opposing forces – the evil and the good. The next logical step that he conjectured was that those forces were depicted by images and folklore.

And now, Ah Chye’s curious mind could ponder on his own ingenious analysis of his people. Often he asked himself, “How come I can have so rich and vast an imagination and yet find it difficult to project my thoughts to my people?” Naive Ah Chye did not realise that to express his thoughts as explicitly as possible to his people, he needed to be as skillful in the languages spoken by his kinsmen.

But Ah Chye had stopped learning his people’s language and had instead learnt two other international languages. By not learning his own “mother tongue“, Ah Chye was deprived of his natural bond with his people. It was like a thread, snapped! The inner self of him had gone. His inner self was no longer connected to the source.

Having spent some years in a mission school, he became orientated to western ways of thinking. He felt it was now time to put them into use. “Those are all cults practised by superstitious people. I must avoid whatever rituals they prescribe to me.” And his thoughts wandered further, “I should not have given my consent to come. Now, just look at those scary demons and eerie images staring at me surrounded by all these weird people.” The more he wondered, the more terrified he became.

His parents had always warned him that if condemned anything his ancestors had honoured, they would haunt him. Now little Ah Chye was confused and afraid. He did not know who was right or which was the better way.

The hysterical creature mumbled something lazily aside. His assistant obediently responded by summoning Ah Chye and his mother for consultation. Ah Chye’s innocent and susceptible mind had earlier questioned what his parents had reminded him of.

And now the oracle with blood shot eyes and a sanguine face with untidy wild hair was staring at him. At that moment, he held back and did not compromise by moving half a step or so. The oracle, sitting on a majestic red painted dragon carving sedan was obviously unhappy with Ah Chye’s conduct. The oracle was now breathing heavily and emitting more foam than ever from his half open mouth. He was squeaking at him.

With that, confused Ah Chye helplessly burst out and said, “Please do not haunt me, my dear ancestor!” Such an exclamation was uttered to the complete amazement of the Chinese standing around him. According to Chinese convention, we do not call someone ancester, particularly to an oracle.

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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