Why did I hide my mother and her family?


Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about memory by Elliot Tan Zi Yu.

Elliot Tan Zi Yu was born and raised in Singapore. When he’s not spending time overthinking, you can find him consuming media exploring the melancholy of humans and bonds that tie them together.

Elliot first discovered his love for storytelling in the classroom. He has contributed to informative blogs and Instagram captions for a floral shop, and continued writing in his own time (but has always kept his work to himself). ‘Why did I hide my mother and her family?’ is Elliot’s first story to be published.

‘Why did I hide my mother and her family?’ follows a boy visiting his mother’s family after a long time.



We’re nearing the end of the academic year. The collective rumble of chairs being lifted above the ground reverberates around the school as the sound of chatter slowly crowds the air. Students throng along the corridor, making their way to their classes before the next bell rings. In the classroom, buzzing conversations about vacation spots bloom across the room. I turn my head and look between the grilles of the windowpanes, observing the people outside.

‘What about you, heading anywhere this December?’ A friend asks, nudging me.

‘Oh. I think Hong Kong, probably.’

‘Going to see your mom again?’ He asks. ‘She works there, right?’

‘Yeah, she does.’

‘It’s nice that your family always visits during the holidays,’ he says.

I nod my head.

‘What about you? Going anywhere?’ I reply, redirecting the question.


Later that year, we find ourselves taking cars, trains, and planes from Singapore to see our mother and her family. It’s only my second trip back since visiting as a child. On the plane, I ask Fanny whether she has any memories of when she visited as a child.

‘Yeah,’ she pauses, unplugging her earphones. ‘What about you? Recall anything?’

‘Not much.’

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