Let me tell you a story about a girl that you have never even heard of before. I never knew she existed until late last night. Now, I will never forget her name and face for as long as I live. My soul has been deeply touched in a way it has rarely been moved until now. But, for Susan and I, it is too late…
I was playing oldies on YouTube last night, taking a break from the sitcom pilot I am writing and I came across a 60’s asian pop group called, “The Crescendos.” (not to be confused with the American group of the same name who gave us, “Oh Julie.”) The Crescendos were from Singapore, a trio of young men in 1961 who formed a band to stay out of trouble. They were decent but not going anywhere until they added a girl to their music. Her name was Susan Lim. She was thirteen years old. Singapore fell in love with her. She was the asian blend of Connie Francis and Ronnie Spector.
She was an instant superstar. Her voice was clear and melodic a la Karen Carpenter. When you listened to her she made you smile. She brightened your world. She took you to a faraway place that made you feel young again. I played all her songs well into the early morning. She just kept hitting my happy buttons again and again. She was the asian girl next door.
I began to read the comments listed below each song and I suddenly realized that Susan Lim was no longer with us. In February, 1970, she finished her final exams and was on a holiday in Malaysia with her fiance and his family. They decided to go for a swim in the South China Sea. Susan was wading in the shallow water with two other girls when suddenly a series of large waves rolled in and swept her out to sea. Her fiance swam quickly to his love and held on to her with all his strength.
It was not enough.
The tide ripped Susan Lim out of his arms and carried her out to a place in the deep waters that never yielded her body again. She was never found. The girl with the sweet voice, the sparkling smile and all that charisma was gone forever.
The band had taken a four year break to allow Susan to go to college and get her degree. They were ready to resume their music when she returned from her holiday. Asia was waiting for them. Instead, Susan Lim was given her B.A. in political science in absentia, her body lost at sea.
The heartbroken band never played again.
The odds of any singer or group from Asia and successfully making hit records in our country are infintessimal. Especially, in 1964. But, Susan Lim was special. She was memorable. She was the Hope diamond in a field of stone. The kind of girl who could have brought her refreshing energy and electricity to make us fall in love with her.
We will never know.
I just sat there reading about her death with tears in my eyes. What a sad story about a young, talented and beautiful girl with her marriage and entire life ahead of her. Singapore’s beloved sweetheart is just a distant memory now with only her songs to tell her story. 42 years ago we were both 22 years-old. I was finishing my B.A. in Government. So, why do I care now?
Because, it was the unfairness of life that stirred my emotions for this vulnerable young woman. I had the privilege to walk across a stage and get my diploma. I experienced the joy of kissing my love on my wedding day. I was able to witness the miracle of being a parent and raising a wonderful child. I lived a full and fulfilling life. Her destiny swooped in like an overpowering marauder and took her life without warmth, without warning, without heart.
One moment she was basking in the sun with the man she loved full of hope and promise. Within minutes, she was enveloped by a sea that suddenly reached out and grabbed her like a raging predator intent on making certain no one would ever see her again this side of heaven.
Susan Lim was gone.
She was forgotten before she was ever remembered.
But, I remember Susan Lim. I will never forget her. I wanted you to remember her, too.
With all the selfish, self-destructive and slimy young celebrities out there it was a shame to lose this lovely young lady at such a young age who not only had unlimited potential, but possessed the ability to turn on an entire country.
She made Singapore smile.
Equally as important, she made me smile.
I only wish I could tell her that.
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