About Sik Chuan Pua
Born in Malaysia, Sik Chuan Pua completed his high school in Singapore, and moved to pursue his tertiary education in Sydney, Australia where he has lived ever since. He studied playwriting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. His plays have been nominated for the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and the Griffin Award, the two major national playwriting prizes in Australia. His short fiction has appeared in Washington Square Review and is forthcoming in Gargoyle. He is working on a novel entitled, Jaws; or The Lucky Country.
A Profile of the Author
Notes on "Hat Yai, 1979"
Several years ago, I watched a 60 minutes-type report about sex tourism in South-East Asia. One of the interviewees bragged that for several dollars a week, he could “live like a king”.
That stayed with me.
I chose a child’s point-of-view as it enabled me to explore this world at a slant. I wanted to capture his flight of thoughts, without him necessarily realizing what he has seen or felt contained deeper truths. The guilt haunting his mother is sensed by the child but attributed to an entirely different set of circumstances. I think a lot of childhood happens in the in between of knowing and not knowing.
When I wrote the story, I had left my native Malaysia for a number of years. By then, I felt it was the right time to dive back into my memories of growing up in that region.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
To combat the disorientation and all other ill effects brought upon by the pandemic, I have relied on various recordings of J.S. Bach’s The Goldberg Variations, in particular, those by Angela Hewitt and Zhu Xiao Mei.
The strict border closure here in Australia led to my happy discovery of 4K walking tour videos on YouTube. Basically, your guide films his or her walk, without commentary, so it feels as if you’re on the journey yourself. This travel-by-proxy has taken me back to familiar places such as the flamingo house along the Venice Canals in Los Angeles, the ivory sands of South Beach, and the various levels of the Strand Bookstore in NYC. My favorite of these would be the snow-covered neighborhoods gleaming with Christmas decorations. (Americans really know how to celebrate Christmas.) I hope to visit Alaska one day.
Over the last two years, I have developed a strange aversion to alcohol. It’s like I now have organic Antabuse coursing through my veins. I am a tattoo removalist amongst other things. I never enquire who Brad, Jacintha or Richard 4ever is. Some narratives are meant to be erased. As I write this, there has been a tragic shark attack in Sydney, the first fatality in sixty years.
I dream of better days ahead for all of us. Peaceful as a stroll over the pristine snow on December evenings, the air suffused with goodwill.