By DAPHNE LEE
I’M in the midst of editing a collection of stories based on traditional tales from the region (Malaysia and Singapore).
When I first thought of collecting stories for this anthology, I imagined it would be for children. I didn’t grow up with Malaysian fairytales, myths and legends. Like many Malaysian children from English-speaking families, I was raised on the stories of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. I was baptised in the Catholic church and so Christian mythology was part of my life.
As an adult I felt something was missing. Why did I know European fairytales, myths and legends and not the fairytales, myths and legends of the country in which I lived and belonged? The obvious reason was because my parents never told me any of the latter. My mother would occasionally relate bizarre stories, of Chinese origin, about a filial son who went to incredible lengths to prove his love for his aged mother, but for most part she (and my sisters) read me stories which included fairytale staples like Snow White, Cinderella, The Goose Girl, The Bremen Town Musicians (my favourite) and Rumplestiltskin.
We had a few lovely hardbound copies of fairytales by Andersen and the Grimms. We did not own any collections of Malaysian traditional tales. This was why I thought of compiling one. However, this was several years ago and since then a few anthologies, including two fully-illustrated ones, have been published for children.