2000-1 David T. K. Wong Fellow
I wrote most of the first draft of the ms. titled The True Body whilst on the fellowship at UEA. I'm currently trying out a couple of structural variations whilst reworking the narrative - in between climbing mountains of marking for the university I teach at. Isabelle de Sequeira is a Eurasian woman based in Sydney, Australia. The True Body begins as an account of her search in the funeral decoration shops of Malacca for a papier mache true body for her recently dead mother Ghislaine de Sequeira. A true body would give her mother's spirit 'something to return to.' When no funeral decoration maker will provide her with a true body, Isabelle de Sequeira resorts to writing the story of her mother's life and titling it "The True Body." This is a story of loves lost, found and lost again in the narrow streets of Malacca and in the tea growing district of the Cameron Highlands. These were both sites where English expatriate life went on alongside that of Malayan 'natives' in the 1950s, the era of the Emergency and the move towards Independence. This narrative contains accounts of Malayan life penned by the English travel writer Ghislaine de Sequeira falls in love with. However, Isabelle de Sequeira has motivations other than memorialising and accommodating her mother's spirit in her story. She wishes to impress upon her English professor the exoticism of her origins, possibly even seduce him with this. Thus she makes the story of the True Body bear truths quite divergent from those of her mother's life.