Malaysia-born and Singapore-based, Daryl Kho works in the regional TV industry, where he basically sells other people’s stories and ideas for a living.
He was a prolific creator during his student days: composing songs, poems, plays and even a kung-fu musical! However, after Daryl joined the rat race, corporate emails became his sole literary output. Gradually, his creative tank dried up.
Then in 2009 — shortly before the birth of Daryl’s only child, Alexis — Daryl’s father was felled by two strokes, which also caused vascular dementia. The strokes took away his dad’s mobility and independence, whilst dementia robbed him of many of his memories and much of his personality. Both Daryl and his sister live abroad. So, Daryl’s mum — a finance professional — had to assume the additional burden of being her husband’s primary (and often only) caregiver.
Deeply affected by his dad’s illness, Daryl was equally moved by his mother’s otherworldly love, superhuman strength and unswerving devotion to her husband. All this, combined with guilt and an immense regret that Alexis and her Grandpa never got to truly “meet” each other before the mists moved into his mind, rekindled Daryl’s long-buried itch to put pen to paper.
This was how his debut “family novel”, Mist-Bound: How to Glue Back Grandpa, was born. The story was also a chance for Alexis to have an adventure with her Grandma, since they live in different countries and rarely see each other.
Sadly, Daryl’s father’s condition continued to decline. He passed away before the book could be completed and read to him. Subsequently, Daryl nearly abandoned the project, but finally decided to see it through. For Daryl, each time that a child reads the story is a chance for Grandpa to be “saved”, over and over, and over again.
Mist-Bound: How to Glue Back Grandpa was published in July 2021 by Penguin Books South East Asia, and is supported by Dementia Singapore (f.k.a Alzheimer’s Disease Association) and TOUCH Community Services Singapore.
In terms of past works, one of Daryl’s short stories that was written as a high school student in Ontario, Canada, was published in INCITE, an annual anthology featuring the best student works from the province. That same year, Daryl was also awarded the Reginald A. Finney Award for Proficiency in Senior English. At his alma mater, the University of Chicago, his plays and kung-fu performances (all co-written, co-directed and co-acted with his landlord, no less!) were the highlight and backbone of the annual Chinese New Year Shows that were performed to paying audiences of close to a thousand.