They Really Happened
by Thilagaraj Kandish Muniandy
Trafford Publishing

"How is that possible?"

This is the question posed in each of ten stories written by English teacher Thilagaraj Kandiah Muniandy. His book is written both to recount extraordinary events related to ordinary people and to help his students improve their English proficiency.

The opening story, "Plus Two Minus Two," recounts the author's experience in taking an exam: "I completed one of the questions, wrote +2 as the answer, thought for a little while, erased the answer, wrote -2 as the answer, and went on to complete the paper." Later he is told by his friends that +2 was the correct answer; naturally, he begins to worry obsessively about his chances of passing the exam. Visiting his family, he is taken to Amma, a saintly woman who tells him what he did, though she would have had no earthly way of knowing about it, and that his final answer was indeed wrong. She predicts he will "pass but miss by one point," which turns out to be true: He misses the highest score by one point but gets a passing grade. As with other stories, the author does not analyze, only tells and lets the reader decide, calling it "food for thought for all." Other stories include the strange connection between separate experiences of his mother and father; a man who comes to believe in ghosts after a mysterious series of events; the true account of how the author gave up drinking, but told from a third person perspective up to the surprise ending; and the remarkable tale of a good friend and beloved fellow teacher who, it could be said, came back from death to save the lives of others involved in a car crash, and to exonerate them from blame.

As an example of well-constructed English prose, They Really Happened will serve its purpose. Furthermore, the stories are all intriguing and make the reader want to know more from the outset, so the other purpose is also accomplished: giving Muniandy's students and others something to peruse in English that they can enjoy and take inspiration from. As the author says about his stories on the cover blurb, "Since they are true, it can be stated conclusively that the stories are interesting, and with language pitched at the appropriate level, it is suited to readers of all age groups and cultures." Perhaps the only flaw in this little compilation is that it is short (less than 100 pages), but perhaps the author plans another such collection for future students.

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