The Cognac is a micro fiction about a boy-girl inter racial relationship in 1970’s Singapore. Now, about 20% of all marriages in Singapore are across racial divides. However, back then such liaisons were not the norm.

This is based on a true story but the names of characters are fictitious.

Is the goblet empty? Watch carefully…it is full of hope.

How it finally brims, depends on us…the choices we make.


When Mei broached the subject of marriage to her father, old man Wong wondered if it was to the Indian, she had been dating.

Wong had immigrated from China. Landing on an embankment along the dirty brook proudly referred to by the locals as ‘Singapore River’, he had settled in Chinatown in 1935. In time, he raised seven children and owned a fleet of ‘bum boats.’

“Yes he is the one,” Mei snapped defiantly. “Why?”

She had always been headstrong. Her peers had married, produced grandchildren for their parents, but she dared to take night classes. One of his daughters was intent on working for a living, how embarrassing! He should have drowned her the day she was born as he already had two useless daughters and did not need a third. Now he had to content with this! “Why? Have all the Chinese men in Singapore died?” flew his retort.

She packed her bags and the door slammed.

Visiting his ancestral home in China, the old man’s cousin rebuked him. “What does it matter what race he is, as long as he takes good care of your child?” This advice came from a country bumpkin in China.

“My greatest regrets were the loss of my father when I was three and my grandfather shortly after that. Our children must grow up in a complete family environment with grandparents, uncles and cousins around them.” What a strange thing coming from Nathan, of all the things Mei had expected him to say, when she revealed her pregnancy.

The telephone finally rang. It was the first day of the Year of the Dog. The family stared and giggled. They had never seen a dark-skinned man so close.

The old man took out an ancient bottle of X.O. Cognac. It was a gift from a friend to a friend to him. The gathering watched in envy as he poured the golden liquid into a straight glass. With a grunt, he handed the glass to Nathan.

“It is still early morning and in the wrong glass to boot,” whispered Nathan. “What a waste of vintage Cognac.”

He felt her elbow nudge his ribs, told to drink it. “You’ve been accepted.”

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2011

Please click here to read the eVersion >


  1. Several decades ago, I too married across the racial divide and can emphathize with the “Indian” in this story. Well done Eric, nice.

  2. Succintly reveals the emotional struggles of the three characters and finishes with a wry (almost) humorous end. Well written.

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