Monday, September 05, 2016

Death Vaguer

This was written way back in the beginning of the year, but famous people are still dropping like flies. Troubling. - JH

What a month January has been so far.
            First came news that David Bowie died after a very discreet battle with cancer.
            We heard about his death when Sharyn rang Saffy in a flood of tears.
            “He’s dead! He’s dead!” she sobbed.
            Saffy gasped. “Oh my God!” She immediately turned to Amanda and shrieked, “Chee Wai is dead!” Of course, Amanda immediately screamed, her huge eyes welling with instant tears.
            From my end of the couch, I looked up and frowned. “Who’s Chee Wai?” I asked.
            Saffy turned her bosom towards me. “Are you serious? Sharyn’s husband!” she said.
            That’s his name?” I asked, vaguely aware that my inability to remember people’s names had just reached an all-time low.
Saffy suddenly remembered Sharyn was still on the line and was currently babbling about something. “Oh, Shazz,” Saffy said, talking over her best friend. “I’m so sorry, how did it happen? Wait, let me put you on speaker.”
            “Aiyoh!” Sharyn’s voice floated out in a penetrating wave. “I never say Chee Wai dead, lah, aiyoh, you ah! It’s Bowie, lah! He just die!”
            All of us paused and looked at each other. You could hear a souffl√© collapse in the silence.
            Eventually, Amanda took charge of the situation. “Um, is that your dog?”
            Sharyn sucked her breath. “Ex-cue me, but my dog is call Bonnie, ok? David Bowie is dead!”
            I breathed out. I was on much safer ground now. “Oh, as in the singer?”
            “Oh,” Amanda said. “That’s…sad!”
            Hannor!” Sharyn said. “From young, I love his music! I got all his album! I can sing every song he ever sing! Aiyoh!” She began sobbing again.
            Later, after promising Sharyn we’d come visit her for a Bowie night of remembrance – “We play my favourite album ‘The Lice and Fall of Siggy Stardus and the Spider from Mah-ss!’ – we turned to Facebook and found our walls full of devastated posts.
            “Huh!” Amanda said. “There are a lot of very upset people out there!”
            “I know,” Saffy said, her fingers scrolling through her iPhone. “Victoria says his death is more devastating to her than the death of her father!”
            “She would,” murmured Amanda who has never liked Victoria ever since Victoria announced at a party some years ago that she generally had a low opinion of Harvard graduates.
            “I can’t say I’ve ever been really conscious of his music,” Saffy said. “I mean, I thought he was really handsome and everything and I totally adore the fact that he married Iman, but his music…not so much.”
            “Peter says Bowie was the most important musical influence in his life,” I read from my Facebook wall.
            “Huh!” Amanda said again. “I feel kind of left out here. I’m sorry he’s dead, but I’m not relating to this level of grief.”
            My mother always says you should be careful about what you say. Four days later, we woke up to find Amanda sitting on the couch sobbing softly into a handful of tissues.
            Saffy’s impressive bosom, inflated at full capacity, collided with Amanda first before the rest of her body arrived.
            “Oh, what’s happened?” Saffy cooed, pulling Amanda’s head deeper into her bosom. “Don’t cry, what’s wrong?”
            “He’s dead!”
            Over the top of Amanda’s head, Saffy looked at me. I shook my head and shrugged.
            “Uhm…David Bowie?”
            Amanda pulled herself up. “No! Alan Rickman!”
            Again, Saffy looked at me. I was pleased I was able to assist.
            “Harry Potter!” I said.
            Saffy’s eyes widened. “Oh my God! That’s tragic! What did he die of?”
            “Cancer,” Amanda sniffed.
            “That’s a bit young to die of cancer, isn’t it?”
            Amanda stopped in mid-sniffle. “Well, he wasn’t old, but he wasn’t exactly young either. He was 69!”
            Saffy cocked her head and stared at Amanda. She turned to me. “Harry Potter can’t be 69! Isn’t he like 15?”
            “Oh God,” I sighed. “You’re thinking of Daniel Radcliffe! Alan Rickman was Professor Snapes!”
            Saffy later complained to Sharyn that she hates it when people just throw names at her. “I never watched Harry Potter, so how the hell am I supposed to know who’s who? When I ask who died, and you say Harry Potter, what am I supposed to think?”
            “Wah, you all, ah, you so terrible! You don’t know David Bowie music, you don’t know Harry Potter! How liddat?”
            Saffy’s bosom inflated to full volume. “Listen, FYI, I love Taylor Swift. She’s current! And besides, there is just too much information out there and I have a life!”
            “Aiyoh, Taylor Swift! Ay, you listen to this!” Sharyn said.
She called up ‘Starman’ on her iPod, closed her eyes and started weeping again.


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