‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’ is a collection of five short stories rooted in Malaysian culture revealing its hidden treasures. The durian fruit is symbolically mentioned in this title as it is regarded as symbol of mystique. One should not judge it based on its spiky outer appearance; the magic begins when you pry open the fruit as it reveals a soft, succulent, fleshy yellowish pulp and discover the mystical qualities of this unique tropical fruit. The plots in the stories revolve around solving a mystery. I specifically wrote in such a manner to allow readers from all over the world to be exposed to places in Malaysia and at the same time get a feel of experiencing adolescence life in Malaysia.
I have been teaching English and Mathematics in Malaysian Secondary Schools and then moved on to become a lecturer at a public university; namely; Sultan Idris University of Education. Here I taught undergraduates majoring in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). I taught various papers pertinent to the course such as “Literature for Young Adults”; “Teaching Methodology”; “Computer Assisted Language Teaching” and more.
Prior to ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’, I have published many more story books but they were published by local publishers. ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’ is my first attempt at an international level.
If you ask me- “What inspired me to write my book?” then, I need to relate my experience teaching at the university. Some of us (lecturers) were given the task to teach English Language Proficiency Classes to foreign students. These students had limited exposure to English Language. They were students in dire need of assistance to grasp the language before they could continue their studies in their respective fields. They were mainly aiming to study in the Business and Arts faculties. They needed reading materials suitable for their level of proficiency. Books available in the library were of a higher standard. These students were struggling even to read newspapers in English! The students in my class were mainly from China and Indonesia. They were very eager learners. Some of the other lecturers who were assigned with the same type of students began borrowing my story books. The stories were meant for young adults, however, they came in handy for the teaching of the language as a foreign language! The students enjoyed reading the stories and the books gave them an avenue to practice reading in the target language. This gave me further motivation to continue writing in this genre.
It took me about six months to complete ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’. ‘Where the Durian Tree Grows’ is meant to instil good characters amongst children and young adults without being “preachy”. The stories are all embedded with values such as ‘Intellectual values’; “Civic Values” and “Character Values”. By “Character Values”, I mean characters in these stories possess either one or more values such as bravery, honesty, creativity and diligence.
The one message I would like to convey to my readers would be- people from different parts of the world are all connected in many ways although our cultures may be distinct from one another. Our differences should be a point of reference to better our lives and not be points to condemn each other.
I am working on a sequel. I have a collection of another five short stories. These stories have similar elements as the “Where the Durian Tree Grows”. However, this time the title could be “Colourful Grains”!