He is over 1.8m tall.
I am 1.58m.
He was so graceful on ice given his height-- carefree, swift.
I was the exact opposite.
We were both ice hockey skaters.
His name, is Laren Goh.
He is my buddy; the one and only.
We used to hang out together with another friend, Andy Loi.
Andy is another tall fella over 1.8m.
They are my twin-tower.
Together, we'll flag in town, play arcade games, go ice-skating, chill out till mornings. When Andy got himself a girlfriend, we congratulated him and wished him all the best, leaving him more time to go on dates while Buddy & I continued to hang out.
One day while we were having our usual chilling out session in Choa Chu Kang, he asked me for one secret which I have told no one. He insisted that he had to be the first & perhaps, the only one to know this secret.
"I write my own songs so that I can cut my own song album one day. I'll sing it to imaginary friends who stays opposite my block; up in the water tank," I whispered, praying he'll not hear this embarrassing and childish-sounding secret.
He heard it, all the same.
Then he asked if I could sing one of those songs to him. Shyly, I sang and by the time I finished, he was dumbfounded. Neither of us mentioned anything about my singing for the rest of day.
A few days later, he called me over to his place. Together with Andy, they had converted his bedroom into a 'recording studio'. Somehow, they found a walkman which was able to be connected with a computer microphone & got it successfully working somehow.
"I'm going to be your manager from now on. Record your song into the tape. We'll send it to music companies and get your song album cut," he boosted confidently.
I was reluctant, insisting that my singing sounded horrendous. I told him how my secondary school friends laughed at my vocals, criticizing that my voice sounded 'too cute and fake'. I told him how I had stopped singing after Primary School in Year1998. I was in the school choir but decided to drop out after I lost a Singing competition.
We got a song recorded anyway, the one I sang to him the other day. He somehow convinced me with his analogy that the vocals of then new Taiwanese girl band, SHE, sounded 'cute' too, and voice cuteness was not a factor which determines whether a person could cut a song album or not.
In the end, we realized that there was no way I could sound good enough with a tape recorder and a microphone which was falling apart. The playback sounded like alien signals. On top of that, there wasn't any methods to duplicate more copies. Recordings in those days were troublesome, and you definitely need professionals to do them for you-- they cost a bomb.
But he didn't give up just then; he wouldn't.
Giving me constant encouragement, he accompanied to every singing audition just so I could be recognized or scouted by a recording company. When I couldn't get into any one of them and got even more disheartened, increasingly sure that I was a lousy singer, he pushed me on and held on to the dream of me becoming a professional vocalist one day.
TOP photo: Our first KTV session at Choa Chu Kang Kbox years later. It was probably Year 2003 if I've not mistaken. I have never known about Kbox if it wasn't him who psycho-ed me to go by telling me there was going to be free food; that was my first and ever "K-Lunch". This picture above was taken with his Sony Ericsson camera phone.
To show his unconditional support, Buddy lavished me by treating me to more KTV Sessions and he began learning how to sing mandarin songs. He can't read chinese characters, nor can he speak mandarin fluently you see. To him, singing a chinese pop song was a challenge.
The one and only chinese song he could sing without a sweat was Tong Hua (童话) by Guang Liang（光良).
He'll sing this song at EVERY KTV session
Meanwhile, he signed up as a voluntary neighborhood policeman. He loves doing all his patrolling duties. Once, he even won a bravery award for chasing down a robber and proudly showed me the award certificate when I visited.
Overtime, he told me how he loves watching his mum cooked his meals and decided that he wanted to be a chef. He took up Shatec cooking classes, majoring in pastry-making.
His Friendster profile picture where he took during one of his Shatec classes:
Did I mention that Buddy was an animal lover too? But sometimes I'd tell him how he scares the little animals away because he is too big a size! See how the camera lens wouldn't fit him at all:
He got an attachment at Sentosa. It was about the same period when he got his bike license too. That would mean that he could ride to his workplace with ease. Back then, work had just started to build Vivocity and there were no Sentosa Express for accessibility. You travel to Sentosa either by taking a ferry ride or the Sentosa shuttle bus.
Buddy posing with his SP bike:
He loves the red colour and when Christmas came, he decorated the front portion with glitter and a gingerbread man. He'll bring me on casual bike rides. We'll roam the roads when the town was sleeping, enjoying the night breeze and the slow traffic. He'd fetch me from work, then we'd go for supper at 24hr food stalls along West Coast Highway. Whenever I was down or upset, we'd ride along East Coast Park and Bukit Timah road. I'll cry my heart out and let the wind blow my tears away...
On 3rd December 2005, exactly one month before my 20th birthday, Buddy met with a bike accident. The paramedics pronounced him died on the spot. I couldn't believe when Andy broke the news to me via a phonecall the folloing day. Buddy and I were having a sleepover at my place just two weeks ago. He was my study companion for my upcoming re-take "O" level examinations.He even bought me McDonald's!
For months after the accident, I couldn't get over the devastated news. I wrote about it previously here that I could still feel his presence and that we could still communicate like as if he was physically with me.
He appeared in my dreams a few times. In my most vivid one, he was an underground busker, where he sang a mandarin song which I've never heard of in my life. I googled for the lyrics when I woke up and found out that it was a song by Jeff Chang.
The translation of the song title literally means: Can't resist your smile. Buddy used to always say how my smile never fails to bring joy to friends around me until I lost it when I was going through hard times then.
傷心 不語 退縮
何必 何必 何必
The lyrics of this song talks about how the singer is deem invisible(not important) to the person whom he cherishes a lot. Yet, it's impossible not to miss that person, neither can he resist her smile. Knowing that they are a distance apart, he drew a heart in a letter which is dedicated to her, hoping to see her smile, tomorrow or even some day...
11.11.11: Yes, I will keep smiling and bring joy to people.
11.11.11: I will have faith that my singing will be recognized by everyone one day.
11.11.11: I wish to cut my personal song albums.
11.11.11: Be safe, be healthy, my friends & family.
Rest In Peace.
I wrote a song dedicated specially to him.
Video edited & mixed by Evan Tiang.