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San Mao: The Echo Effect (2)

By Tamara Treichel (Global Times)

10:10, March 11, 2013

An actual letter from San Mao to Rick. (GT)

As friends, O'Shea and San Mao often went on outings together, usually to tea houses or parks in Taiwan or Hong Kong. They chose places that were less crowded because San Mao spoke with a "very soft voice" and he would have trouble understanding her if it was too noisy. "When we spent time together, it was always cherished quality time. It's rewarding to be with a good friend who 'gets us.' We seemed to have a free flow of ideas and speech," he said, adding that San Mao's being about 10 years older didn't bother him because their personalities were so compatible.

Moreover, San Mao liked to collect small objects. Hollywood Road antique shops in Hong Kong were a favorite haunt. "Walking with her was kind of slow sometimes because she'd just drop into a shop we'd pass, attracted to something in the window.

It could be an old pen, sculpture, box or just about anything. And she'd ask the shop people about any history that may be attached to the objects. I think she enjoyed information that sparked her imagination," O'Shea remembered.

The turning point in their friendship came in Hong Kong in November 1990 during a buffet dinner in the Furama Hotel's revolving restaurant overlooking Victoria Harbor. O'Shea had just broken up with his long-time girlfriend and confided in San Mao. "She was there for me and we reached a deeper connection to each other," he said. "She was ready for a deeper relationship since it had been so long since she experienced that."

After dinner, they strolled around the harbor area and boarded a ferry. "On the ferry, we held each other and realized that what we were looking for might be in our hands," O'Shea recalled.

Sadly, a future together was not in the cards for the couple. About a month later, San Mao committed suicide. She was 47. There has been much speculation regarding the reason for her suicide - a cancer scare, disappointment over losing the Hong Kong movie award for her script to the film Red Dust, or depression over her husband Jose's tragic death, which had occurred 12 years earlier.

O'Shea said he didn't know why she killed herself. "People who are suicidal do not make plans to get together and travel," he said, revealing that the two were even considering getting married. Although there was no formal proposal and no set date, both he and San Mao had imagined "how great a marriage would be between two people who have been friends for years."

San Mao would have turned 70 years old on March 26, 2013. O'Shea believed she left a legacy. "Echo [as San Mao was popularly known in English] inspired millions of Chinese and some foreigners in her life, including me," he said, comparing her influence to an "echo."

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:DuMingming、Yao Chun)

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