Three young people – two sisters and a brother – are troubled by fear and guilt, harking back to their past. They decide to return to their childhood home in Kappan Road to encounter the fount of their troubles.
They go back to Kappan Road in the guise of children on horses making a dream journey. Somebody is chasing them, and they go ever deeper into the jungle, looking for something ‘like a temple on a hill’. Riding deeper into the jungle, they see visions, peaceful and fearful, of water babies (‘the children of evil’), and of meditative masks with gods’ faces.
Their journey gets ‘curioser and curioser’. The sun rises in promising glory, only to give way swiftly to fearful night. They stand in line waiting for the temple door to be opened. One among them is found to be barefoot, and somehow this is a terrible thing. But her shoe size, 195, is not to be found in the shoe shop.
What are they to do? Suddenly, the other two also find themselves barefoot and bereft. During breaks in their dream journey, they relive their childhood in Kappan Road. They remember their school lessons about Mrs Lee’s fishcake, and their secret adventures as the Famous Five. They remember the cruel song about ‘Ang Tau Mui’ and the ‘bride without flowers in her hair’, the story of the neighbourhood’s dirty old man, Peng Chek, and the unseemly tale of the quarrelling Ah Ter and Pua Ti.
They also recall their aunt Ah Kim, the child who was given away, of how she grew up and gambled her life away, and they imagine her as a ghost condemned to roam the netherworld forever. They finally come home again, but the house of their memories is not the same. The visions of dread and gloom continue to pursue them. Who are these figures, and what is that relentless drumming they hear?