When I first received that email story from a friend, my first response was ‘Oh, I have seen this one ages ago.’ But after a cup of coffee, I decided to (1) Malaysianise the email story, (2) re-write some parts of, and (3) polish it to achieve better ‘connection’ for my Malaysia readers, and post it. Today post March 2008 election, I thought I might re-post it, updating where necessary to keep it contemporary. Enjoy!
The professor lecturing on creative writing at Universiti Bolay-zhong told his class:
"Today we will experiment with a new writing exercise called the ‘tandem story writing’. The process is simple. Each of you will pair off with a partner whom I have assigned for you - names are on the group assignment list. I made the pairing selection to ensure the widest possible range of attitudes, behaviour and preferences, to expose you to the challenges of the creative technique of harmonising diverse worldviews.”
“Now, for your first assignment - this afternoon, the partner listed first will initiate the first paragraph of a short story, any story, with a maximum of x number of words, though I’ll accept some reasonable latitude here to facilitate a coherent storyline.”
“You then e-mail your partner the written paragraph. The partner, after reading that paragraph, will add a subsequent paragraph to the story, making it flow as coherently as possible. And from there, the writing process in tandem goes on, with each person adding on another paragraph when he or she receives the partner’s email. Every email you exchange shall be cc to me. Apart from the story itself, I will assess how well each of you maintains a coherent seamless storyline.”
“Some rules to make the task interesting - I will depend on your integrity not to discuss the structure of the story in any way or by any medium. The only permitted communication between the partners shall be restricted to the emails carrying the story. I want to see how you manage your creative imagination to keep the story going in a cohesive form. I’ll inform both partners when I see the story arriving at a reasonable conclusion."
Two students, Swee Lan and Aru, were paired off, and their tandem writing product may be read below:
(Swee Lan started off)
At first, Yasmin couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted - bunga cempaka or bunga melur scented, or Darjeeling? The melur scented Boh, which used to be her favourite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Merujok, who once said, in happier times, that he liked the melur variety. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Merujok. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much, her asthma would start acting up again. So the melur scented tea was out of the question.
Meanwhile, in Expeditionary Fleet Group XIV, Flight Lieutenant Merujok Pairin, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over planet Kinta-Baru 18-A-59X, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Yasmin, with whom he had spent one sweaty night a year ago. "Merujok to Putra-Bedewee 12155" he said into his faster-than-light (FTL) communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far …". But before he could sign off, a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychologically brutalizing the one woman who ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful pomelo-farmers of Kinta-Baru 18-A-59X. Yasmin read in her newspaper one morning that the Minister for Affairs D’Asing Organisation Intergalactica (ADOI), Rice Yea-Tim (no descendant of Rice Condoleeza, the 21st Century American Secretary of State), announced "Parliament Passes Law Abolishing Interplanetary Wars". The news excited yet bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read (hartal then), no television (electricity supply failed as usual) to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.
Little did she know that she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the ferocious and hostile alien race, Anw-ar’L-wn'Na-Jib’RzK, had arrived. The alien mothership launched the first of its deadly umn-opu'tr-A-PKR06 fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who had pushed for a unilateral Intergalactic Disarmament Initiated Obsecration Treaty (IDIOT) – unilateral? those bleeding heart idiots! - has left Earth a defenceless target for hostile alien empires that were determined to destroy the human race. Two hours after the passage of IDIOT, the Anw-ar’L-wn'Na-Jib’RzK warships were tracking at ProtoNF&kup-13, a sizzling 13 times FTL, for Earth, carrying enough umn-opu'tr-A-PKR06 fusion firepower to atomise the entire Earth [unfortunately including Penang … sob …]. With no one to stop them, the aliens attacked mercilessly. The Prime Minister, in his ultra top-secret submarinised headquarters MaR-kAs-mO-nSo-oN on the ocean floor off the coast of Kuala Trengganu, felt the humongous explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Yasmin.
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic, semi-literate adolescent.
Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centred tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of valium. "Oh, shall I have bunga melur scented tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F--KING TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Kak Indah’s airey-fairey romance novels!"
F__K YOU - YOU NEANDERTHAL BOCOR-ITE! YOU HUMPTY DUMPTY CLONE!
Pooarah whore. Go drink some tea or join that Loser Anonymous group, Harm-see(liao)-ay.
OK, I really like this one. A+ effort. Lu lua olang bayak Boleh puya lah! Have you thought of forming a formal team, and finishing off the story?