Reflections of April and December: Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung’s Passing (Excerpt 7)
I always posited that the madness that went with Leslie Cheung’s suicide and the public funeral had everything to do with SARS.
In April, None of us were leaving our homes except for work. One confined space to the other. Offices were being moved, departments shifted. In a city when families live 300 square foot to four or five, we were cramped, frustrated, and about to tip over. And the only contact with the outside world was the TV, the radio, the Internet. And all of them were just filling up with news, memorials, and songs of Leslie Cheung.
Not only did he leave us, he left us so violently, on a day full of uncertainties.
We are not only mourning you Leslie, we are mourning the deaths of those who have come down with SARS, we’re upset by the state of affairs, we’re pissed off at the government for handling this so badly, we’re afraid to breathe, we’ve been told touching infected surfaces might kill us. We’re barricading ourselves against the outside world, and our internal emotional is all messed up, disorientated, and I don’t know how to say it to whom. Leslie. Can you hear me? I am angry and sad. You’re gone, so maybe you’ve connected to something bigger than those of us on earth. Leslie Cheung. Leslie Cheung. Leslie Cheung.
I feel I can say this, I can speak for the others as well, because as I started making a website for him. It was my way to vent my personal frustrations, my fears of leaving my home. And through it, accidentally I became the center of the maelstrom. People who couldn’t touch him, who couldn’t get a response from him, came to me, wanting to a bit of me, my thoughts, because as I was putting up the news, as I was putting up the photos, I was giving them space to outpour their grief. And the grief was surely for Leslie, but if you looked into the hundreds and hundreds maybe thousands of emails that poured into my inbox, postings on the message boards and short notes left, which I did, each an every one of them that came through. An obvious train could be seen.
“SARS, Leslie Cheung, Death of my loved one, Gorgor, Government, Cheung Kwok Wing, Depression, Leslie Cheung, Lost, Gorgor, Broken Relationship, Leslie, suicide of family, of friends, Leslie, Leslie, Leslie hear me, listen to me, understand me, Yan, help me, hear me, listen to me, understand me. I am hurting and Leslie is gone. Leslie god, Leslie saint, Leslie idol, Leslie lover, Leslie Beau. Someone please understand.” It just came in, it continued for months, and I behind my keyboard behind an internet connection, became a life line.
I don’t know why I did it. I am pretty sure it did not help my depression. I was actually recovering when it all happened. But maybe I remembered feeling that horrible lost of life 9 months before and having no one to go to, and knew I couldn’t say, “No” to anyone, just in case they were in as bad a state as I was.
And someone was. Someone left a suicide note with no email on the message board. It said, “I want to go, just like him. I am going to go see him.” Everyone who came to the board left a message to the girl, “Don’t go.” “Don’t do it.” “We’re here.” “Please.” “Please get help.” People in Singapore where she resided tried to find her phone number, I tried to track her ISP down, but knowing little could be done if that’s what she decided. Four hours later she came back on. “Thank you” she said, “I read your messages and realized that there is still good in the world.” I was relieved, some people in Singapore contacted her, and the moment passed.
Nothing in the last two weeks since Anita’s death came close. Our normal lives had regained, those who were deeply disturbed then have since recovered. Anita’s death was expected in many ways, and our mourning of her was less intense. Is it because she was less of a star and less loved by Leslie? No, I loved her more. She went in peace in peaceful times. We all have that to be grateful for.