Archive for April, 2012

A famous book

April.22. 2012

I’ve been gone from Malaysia a long time. I left when I was eighteen and except for a brief period, I have been gone pretty much all this time.

Such is the life of an itinerant musician. Throughout those years, however, I’ve stayed in close contact with folks at home. You can say that you can take the man out of Malaysia but you can’t take Malaysia out of him.

It was on one of my trips home, that I heard about a book that had rocked the local community.

It was an unpublished manuscript that had surfaced from nowhere.

The story was that someone had left his computer to be serviced and somehow, someone had copied its contents and now was freely distributing a particular manuscript found among the contents.

(Now, haven’t we heard that alibi before?)

It was my brother-in-law who told me about the book. Like everyone else, I was immediately drawn to it. I mean, who wouldn’t stop by and watch a car wreck on the highway?

My brother-in-law, who doesn’t read Chinese himself, told me he had read an English version and knowing that I’m illiterate in my own language, told me he would find an English copy for me.

But the manuscript remained elusive.

He never found a copy, and I forgot all about it until a few years ago, when I discovered that a good friend of mine owned a copy. I managed to persuade him to let me make a copy.

Only trouble was, it was in Chinese. So I filed it away, intending to get someone to translate it for me, or at the very least, type it out so I can use a translating tool to translate it digitally.

I forgot about the manuscript until the other day, when I was cleaning out my cabinet.

The minute I saw it, I knew I had to google the story. It was not easy but knowing the English name of the author helped.

With some fine sleuthing, I managed to find the key words that led me to a Chinese blog  and there it was, the entire book, out there for the world to see!

And the beauty of it is, it’s all digitized, which means I could enlist Google’s translating capabilities and read this fascinating document finally, although in a strange kind of English.

Amazing! I was riveted!

As a child growing up in Sibu, I knew that the so-called Sibu upper crust lived a different life style from the rest of us, but I had no idea how different it was.

From the blog, I managed to find out the fate of the author.

Apparently, he had ran away and after spending time in a few western countries, decided to make his home in Beijing where he died in 2004. Someone managed to bring his remains back from China to bury in Sibu.

Again, absolutely stunning stuff.

It’s the kind of story that nobody could make up. If you tried to make it up, no one would believe you, because it would sound too farfetched. But as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the book is its title “Fairy, Tiger, Dog” (translated as God, Tiger, Dog by Google). A more poetic title, I cannot think of.

The book is mostly gossip, the kind that people with too much time on their hands indulge in, sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes to malign someone they don’t like. But isn’t there a saying that goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire?

It points to one thing –  the greed and rapaciousness of human beings. How much is enough for one man? This applies to money as well as to women.

But it seems that when it comes to money, the concept of velocitation applies also. You know the concept of velocitation. If you’ve been cruising at 70 mph for a while, pretty soon it begins to feel slow, and you want to go to 75, and then to 80 and then to 85.

That’s the basic law of money. The more money you have, the more you need. You will never have too much money. And this is what this sordid tale (or tales) expose, the bottomless pit of greed in human beings. (Is there a lesson here for all you Wall Street conmen too?)

It’s no wonder that the author had to run away under cover of night. But it is strange to me that the people he wrote about were surprised.  I mean, if you want to do dastardly deeds, be prepared to harvest the dastardly consequences.

That’s one thing people forget, consequences.

If you exploit people, if you do bad things to them, you’ll leave a lot of bad feelings behind, and some day, those bad feelings will come back to bite you. And that is precisely what happened here, maybe not in direct ways, but direct or indirect, it’s all consequences.

I don’t know the whole story but from what I gleaned from the few snippets online, the author felt wronged by society and he hit back with the only weapon he had — his pen, or rather his computer keyboard. As they say, hell hath no fury than a man scorned.

To add a personal touch here, I had some contact with the author and I’ll have to say he was a bit of a sleazeball himself.

When I came home from New Zealand, my sister had heard that he was looking for an assistant and decided to apply for the position. He apparently found out that she was my sister and for her first reporting assignment, (yes, you guessed right, he’s a local reporter) asked her to write an article about her famous musician brother,

As a good brother, it became incumbent upon me to help my sister with the report (translation: I pretty much wrote the whole article for her), and surprise, surprise! the next day, my article appeared, verbatim, in the local paper, attributed to him! And to add insult to injury, he didn’t hire my sister!

As far as the contents of the book go, I personally know of actual falsehoods in it, so I can understand the outrage felt by the community he affected. If I know of one inaccuracy, imagine how many more there could be.

Still, the book is an amazing document. I’m sure some people thought that it had been forgotten, consigned to the dust heap of history, but they didn’t count on the 21st century with its awesome internet. And worse, with the aid of the Google translation tool, everyone can read it now! (This seems to echo a famous airline slogan, “Now everyone can read juicy stuff.”)

So I guess the moral of the story is, if you want to do dastardly deeds, if you want to ride roughshod over other people, be prepared to reap the consequences.

This applies to the subjects in the book as well as its author. I’m sure, on one of those cold Beijing winter evenings, that he must have spent at least a few minutes regretting leaving the warmth and comfort of those warm tropical Malaysian nights.