May 4, 2000
The New Paper

Hard to follow in these steps
By: Janice Wong


ONCE in a while, an event happens that pulls us away from our daily busy nothingness and urges us to think. And re-think.

The event was the opening of a training and education centre in memory of Bonny Hicks, set up by her friends at the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations.

By a strange twist of fate, I was present.

It was surreal meeting the personalities in Bonny's book, Excuse Me, Are You a Model?

It suddenly struck home that the names were not merely characters in a story book, but real people with real feelings. Watching her mother, Betty, cry was heartbreaking.

I have, fortunately, never experienced the loss of a loved one. Neither did I meet Bonny (although I now wish I had).

Hence, I cannot reach their depth of emotions. But it stirs something in me.

No, this is not another article grieving the late model/writer who died in the SilkAir MI 185 crash; there have been so many of them published.

This article intends, in part, to celebrate her life after death. Not the reincarnation variety, but in the form of a living legacy.

I glimpsed Bonny's personal life through her friends. What a great woman she was. She could inspire donations of $200,000 to help others even in her death.

I am awed.

Pavilion of Women, a novel by Pearl S Buck, is being made into a movie in Hollywood. The closing words remind me of Bonny's immortality:

" ... When her body died, her soul would go on. Gods she did not worship, and faith she has none, but love she had and forever. Love alone had awakened her sleeping soul and had made it deathless."

I wondered morbidly about my own funeral, of people who would weep for me and miss me. Sadly, I can count them on one hand.

Frankly, I am that inconsequential.

Even if someone had wanted to carry on my mission, he would be stumped, for I have none.

I belong to the mass of people who lead lives with no higher purpose than "I am not dead because I am still breathing".

Friends say I am too hard on myself. I wish.

Sometimes, usually during moments of drunken passion, I believe that I can make a difference in this world. The next day, selfishness and laziness get the better of me. I despise indifference, yet I revel in the comforts it brings.

Perhaps I am just being realistic about my abilities.

They have always been particularly acutely felt.

I know I can never match the charismatic qualities of public heroines the likes of Helen Keller and Princess Diana.

So - as there is very little we can do - shouldn't it be that we should not refuse to do the very little we can do?

Bonny's friends demonstrated this.

Maybe that's why I am writing this - to placate my conscience that I did the least I could, by drawing attention to Bonny's legacy.

How lame.


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