Goodbye Chandra!

When Mrs Seow text me that our mutual friend S Chandra Mohan had gone to heaven this afternoon, I naturally felt sad.

I felt even sadder on reading the fulsome obituary that Channelnewsasia carried on its TV news bulletins and its website.

Chandra was a truly nice man without the killer instinct. He was low key, self-effacing and always so welcoming and helpful to newcomers to his industry. Perhaps that was why he never realised his full potential, politely allowing talented but more aggressive late-comers to overtake him?

Because of his low profile, mention his name to people outside the industry — and even to some within the industry — and all would think you are talking about the lawyer and former Nominated Member of Parliament, his better known name-sake!

I first met Chandra ages ago when I arrived from Kuala Lumpur to take up a job in Singapore. Altho he was already a “name” in the industry, he was Mr Friendly and Helpful rolled into one. And there was no ulterior motive.

One year, we even watched the National Day Parade on TV together.

Time passed; life moved on; we lost touch. Then happenchance we ran into each other at Bukit Batok one early Sunday afternoon and shared an impromptu lunch at the Rail Mall. In a Chinese restaurant.

That was about 10 years ago.

Strangely, I began running into him more and more at the Tanglin Club in recent years but never took the chance to sit down and have a long chat with him, thinking I would do so on another day when there was more time.

Then I stopped running into him altogether.

Now he is gone. Aged 72. Much older than I thought he was but much younger than Singapore’s average life expectancy.

Leaving good memories with all who knew him.

Postscript: I emailed Singapore playwright, Robert Yeo, who is currently in the US with the sad news and his reply, unprompted and unscripted, said this of our mutual friend:

“tks for the info. it is so sad. chandra was a generous, self-effacing man. talented, in a position of power, but never envious”.

Chandra’s humility was obviously his most striking characteristic.

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