Friday, November 10, 2017

Regrettable Things That Happened Yesterday by Jennani Durai

Regrettable Things That Happened Yesterday by Jennani Durai
About the Author
(Source: Goodreads)

Name: Jennani Durai
Born in Singapore August 29, 1986
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Jenanni Durai (Pic source: Goodreads)

Jennani Durai is a former journalist, a VONA/Voices fiction fellow for 2016, and a co-author of the official commemorative book of Singapore’s 50th birthday, Living the Singapore Story (2015). She was selected for the Ceriph Mentorship Programme (Prose) in 2014, and won both third prize and an honourable mention in the 2015 Golden Point Awards. Durai currently lives in Guatemala with her husband, and Regrettable Things That Happened Yesterday (Epigram Books, 2017) is her debut collection of short fiction.

About The Book
(Source: Goodreads)

A teenager discovers his grandfather's secret identity only after his death. A young immigrant to 1940s Singapore is convinced the end-times are nigh. A man is tasked with bringing the corpse of his estranged brother home from Phuket. A reporter is torn between doing her a job and respecting her friend's privacy. From obituaries and job ads to crime reports and horoscopes, Regrettable Things That Happened Yesterday is a collection of ten short stories connected by the motif of newspapers, and the unexpected ways they end up affecting our lives.

Personal Feeling From Her Stories :)

The book consists of 10 short stories, suitable for those who do not like a very heavy stuffs. I picked this book up as the first story (about a teenager discovers his grandfather's secret identity only after his death) reminded me of the real story someone told me when his childhood friend experienced similar thing when the father passed away.

In loving memory...

The story went more or less just like this:

"Suddenly, during the funeral wake that was held at the HDB (Singapore's government subsidized flat) void deck, an unrecognized group of people (about 40 persons in total) - mostly sturdy, muscular, and well built body filled with many unhidden tattoos (varies in sizes), some from head to toe, plus hair painted in many different colors, from all age between 20s to 60s - came and paid their respect by holding three-burned-incense-stick on each of their hands followed by a three-time-bowing gesture in front of the coffin and the deceased photo, fully commanded loudly by one of the guys in the group, shouting 'yi qi gong', 'er qi gong', and 'san qi gong', exactly like the scene that people often saw in the Hong Kong's movie.

Those guests who came and attended the wake were awestruck and did not dare to move out from their seats. They sat quietly on the blue plastic chair facing each other circling a round table that was covered with a huge white plastic bag. Each of them were acting busy, cracking peanuts and sunflower seeds that were served in a paper plates in front of them. Many question marks filled their head and mind of who these people were, why they came, and what were their relation with the deceased and/ or the deceased family members. And that question marks too, even applied to the deceased son and daughter.

Only after the group disappeared (after passing a thick white envelope to the deceased family member), people could then breath and talk easily again. The only person they could carefully ask was the deceased wife. She should have known better about the deceased past.

Taking a long deep breath, she started explaining reluctantly, as if it opened back the recovered wound, the filled, dusty, and forgotten journal, from the past. She said that a long long time ago, when her husband was still very young and ignorant, he was once joined the triad. But later on, after falling in love with her and getting married, he realized that he had to quit as not to create troubles to the family members. And perhaps, he had served the triad remarkably because otherwise, he would have long been forgotten and none of them would appear at the funeral wake.

How I would like to be remembered quote (Pic source:

No one (including the deceased children) could believe the truth though, as the deceased was generally a quiet and decent type of person, a very family oriented father who never misbehaved in the course of the family life. He was the kind of person that would go back home after work and spend the rest of his time with family every single day, even on weekend and public holiday. It seemed that he was determined so much to change into a responsible and protective father, taking care the family as much as he could. Really remarkable!!!"

Well, I found the story was pretty similar with the story that Jennani wrote in her book. I found it very interesting though. So many meaning behind it. Like we could not judge people from their appearance and behavior from the outside. It might be very much the opposite from what we usually thought he or she was. And only when they left the world for good, the dark secret of their life then would come to light. After all, who on earth did not have secrets in their life anyway??

Another interesting story that I found in the book was 'Yours truly, Vimala'. It was about the young girl who kept sending story to the radio with a hope that it would once be chosen and broadcasted on the radio. But the ending was really funny and unexpected!!! :D

'Anita Cemerlang' - Youth magazine (Collection of short stories) - Pic source:

It reminded me of my childhood time. I used to read 'Anita Cemerlang' - the Indonesian monthly magazine - first published in year 1978 - filled mostly with short stories targeted to youth (with theme of falling in love, broken heart, friendship, family, betrayal, etc.) My eldest sister subscribed it and I read it when she was not around.

It was actually from there I started developing my interest in reading and writing. I felt my imagination running wild after getting so much inspiration from what people wrote and how they wrote it. I too started sending a short story, with a hope that it would be published one day.

There was no typewriter at home so I usually wrote it with my handwriting on a paper torn from my school's note book, put them inside the envelope, pasted with stamp and sent them away from the post office nearby my house. It did not come out of my mind to make any copy before sending it away (I was too young, perhaps between 13 to 15 years old). I regretted so much for not doing it as I would not have any chance to reread what I had written before. It must be funny to see what was running on my mind at that period of time :)

And anyway, the point is, it had never been published in the magazine. I was too young I guess. My thinking was still too narrow and my language was still too immature. They might also have problems reading my handwriting :P Hahaha... Good memories though!!!

I'd better stop here and leave you to read the rest of the stories. Overall I enjoyed her stories and am looking forward for her next book to come :)


blooming home and garden said...

Hello, interesting to read about this book and to find your blog,

Many greetings, Ida

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you for reading this post. Hope you get the book soon :) Have a wonderful time!!! ^^

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