Cathartic Tales

Malaysia Star (Malaysia), January 24, 2006


And they lived poor ever after… What a hilarious way to end a story! It made the audience at the storytelling showcase –a culmination of months of hard work during the “Happiness is a Choice Programme” – laugh, then sigh. They had to wonder what sentiments lay beneath these innocent words.

Many of the children in the programme were, after all, orphans, from broken homes or living below the poverty line. Some were survivors of abuse. So naturally one wondered if there were a particular resonance in the expressions they had used.

Was that a reflection of his deprived life? What has he been through? So a grown-up might extrapolate. The kid? Hey, he was just thinking the characters in the story didn’t end up happy. They squandered their three wishes, so according to the story formulas they’d learnt, (poor) ever after it was. Simple.

At least, it was simple during the first segment of the showcase, during which the children delivered their spin on two classics (The Three Wishes and The Magic Pear Tree) in English and Malay. In the second segment however, the children related tales they’d written themselves. Then family fights, drunk and disorderly behaviour, abuse, neglect, misery and even murder all emerged, along with a small chill that had nothing to do with air-conditioning.

Happiness isn’t always the easiest choice, but it’s clearly one these children are learning how to make with the help of their new friends.


Subjects Covered: healing

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