Private grief of the one Uncle Jim loved best

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 2004, 12:00am

The love of James Wong Jim's life broke her silence last night after his public memorial at Hong Kong Stadium, saying the lyricist died fearing his talents were not respected.

'To me, he was always number one in writing lyrics,' Eunice Lam Yin-nei said in an interview broadcast on Cable TV hours after the father of Canto-pop's service.

Lam and Wong lived together for 14 years, from 1976 to 1990, but never married. He later described her as the great love of his life.

She recalled that before they separated, Wong grew very upset as the once-frequent requests to write songs started to dry up.

'He was very, very unhappy, complaining why no album company or singers, young or old, came to ask him to write lyrics any more,' Lam said. Wong was irritated by the many lyrics in the market he described as rubbish.

Lam said Wong's self-confidence was shaken. 'I comforted him and told him, 'Your position in lyrics writing will never been overtaken, even in the next generation',' Lam said.

In the wake of praise heaped on Wong since his death, Lam asked: 'One of his famous songs is Ask Me; here I have to ask you: Why didn't people treasure him when he was alive? They didn't value his talents and hard work. I can say in lyrics writing, he died with regret.'

Lam did not attend Wong's low-profile funeral last Wednesday or yesterday's service, which attracted 20,000 mourners. She said she would mourn him in her own way.

'Many outsiders who know nothing at all blamed me,' she said. 'But who am I? I was not and I am not his wife. I can only bewail his death on my own,' she said, hinting that she was not invited. 'If someone informed me, of course I would go.'

Wong had always hated funerals and would have made his own a party so everyone could be happy, she said. Lam also revealed that before her separation from Wong, she had known Winnie Chan Wai-man, Wong's second wife, was in love with him. 'I did not feel that she betrayed me ... I only knew that she was in love with James ... from their faxes, I knew what was going on,' she said.

At the end of the interview, with tears in her eyes, Lam looked up and uttered: 'Brother and Jim, I wish you happiness.'

Lam's brother, Lam Chun-keung, also a veteran Canto-pop writer, died of cancer in November last year.