'“There’s this roti prata place on Kampong Bahru Road opposite SGH. It’s always open. We can go there.” Ling knows the place well. She’s been there many times and taken her murtabak beside the girls and their punters from the karaoke lounges, and eaten with the taxi drivers, police and nurses, relaxing after their shifts at the end of night.'
From A Fleeting Tenderness at the End of Night, a story in We Rose Up Slowly
I wrote this story during the latter half of 2014.
I started by ‘splurging’ all I felt, and knew, about the factual event at the foundation of this story - this event is well known to people living in Singapore in mid 2012. I wrote in a fast, haphazard, chaotic manner. I focussed on emotion and the action. I did not concern myself with grammar, spelling or proper sentence construction. I just wrote.
I developed the story by writing a detailed imagined backstory for fictional participants. I explored their motivation, their history and the conflicts between characters. I tried to articulate my understanding of their dreams, how these drove their actions, and how these actions changed them.
I wrote several different versions. An initial draft was written in first person POV - in a pale imitation of Rashomon. Then I decided on a third person POV. I changed the protagonist and wrote several alternate endings.
I submitted the story to a few literary magazines in early 2015 without success.
In A Fleeting Tenderness at the End of Night:
- There is tension between the romantic dreamer and practical realists limited by their desire for wealth and social acceptance through conformity.
- The heroine/protagonist yearns to find an unconditional, passionate, deep, instinctual love. She refuses to accept practical realities and longs for something more.
- The tension between non Singaporeans and Singaporeans is also touched on, including PRC mainlanders who work in Singapore, and their awareness of how they are perceived by ‘the locals’.
- The collision of different world views is played out with tragic consequences. The ‘final event’ represents a form of judgment, the intrusion of chaos and coincidence.
- Ultimately, the romantic soul is the only one who survives: The dreamer survives reality.
- I chose the name Jia Bayou for the Lamborghini driver initially. Stephanie Ye, my brilliant editor, pointed out this was like calling a character Hamlet - a burden to heavy for any character to bear. So we tossed around Yang Liu or Liu Wenhui, and ultimately ended up with Lang Zheng based on a chinese footballer who plays for Beijing Guoan FC.
- There are passing references to Zouk, a jelly girl, Hyperdub, roti prata, a black Lamborghini Aventador, the National Museum, baozi, Boey Kim Cheng's ‘lost in the swaying sense of things’, Bai mu, a Jimmy Choo shoe, rambutan, voles, SGH, murtabak, Kent Ridge park, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station marshalling yards, the Police Cantonment Complex.
- The story is dedicated to all those who have tragically lost there life on Singapore’s roads.