I was perched on my sofa watching some entertainment show on TV last night. Somewhere in the middle, the show got boring, and I was lulled to sleep. I was probably halfway towards a nice deep sleep when I heard a familiar song from my brother’s room. Something about that song made me wake wide up and then, feel uncomfortable. It was then that I realized, the song was ‘Black or White’ by Michael Jackson. The faint sound of his voice made me feel almost choked, and I just couldn’t figure out why. I tried to focus on the boring show, but the sound from the other room seemed to overlap every other sound and annex my mind completely, making me restless. I walked involuntarily into the room and asked my brother if he didn’t share the same vague feeling, which he apparently didn’t. So was it just me? But I loved Michael, I adored his music, then why does it suffocate me now?
I followed my strong urge to turn the TV off and throw myself onto bed, that being the only possible way I could stop hearing the song. And as I walked to my room, I heard the line ‘I’m living lonely!’ from one of my favorite MJ songs ‘Stranger in Moscow.’ I felt sick to the stomach. It was as if Michael was right in there, singing, crying his heart out. To me. I rushed to my room and shut the door behind me before I turned off the lights and pounced on my bed. Okay, time to sleep. I set the alarm, slid under the thin covers, and waited for sleep to come. But my eyes weren’t drowsy anymore, and that voice was still resounding in my head.
What’s happening to me, I thought. Why am I so uneasy? Agreed, he was the king of pop and I am a great, great fan of his. After Ray Charles, he was the greatest musician of all times to me. But so was he to millions of others. And I’m not the kind of fan, who’s heard every song of his and knows the lyrics by heart, nor have I been a part of any big fan club, nor have I watched any of his concerts. The last time I even thought of him before his death was when I read in the newspapers of him converting to Islam. And now, even a week after his demise, I’ve hardly read any articles about his death that’ve been flooding the newspapers in the past week. I tried to analyse this resistance.
The first thing I realized, was that I, like millions of other fans all over the world, have not yet digested the fact that MJ is dead, I’ve probably just gobbled it down. And I’ve done so without getting to the roots of my feelings about it.
Who was Michael Jackson? Or more importantly, what was he to me? To me, he was an era in himself, a caricature of the future I secretly dreamt of. A man who I always wanted to be like, and a man like whom I wished to engrave my name in the world and history of music.
His name alone created an incredible visual before my eyes (and it still does). A huge stage, all lit and smoked-up, surrounded by an audience of millions of people, screaming, crying and even fainting at the sight of that man giving the performance of his life on stage. The voice and music of that one man was enough to run chills through bodies of countless people, that one moonwalk was enough to create a wave among the youth all over the world and win their fascination and worship. That one performer, with his passion for what he did, touched the world. He touched the world in the one life God gave him. He made himself unforgettable. Irreplaceable. And legendary. He lived every performer’s ultimate dream.
Grew up in poverty, married the stage at 5, and wrote one of the most touching songs, Ben, when he was just 14. He rose; he stumbled many-a-time, only to rise again. He did crazy things to himself called plastic surgeries, which eventually made him look like a girl with a face painted in white, some said. He fiddled with the structure of his nose, to a point that it looked it would break off with the striking of a finger against it, others said. He looked plastic. And then his life became plastic, too. Articles on the net show how he longed to lead a normal life, hang out with friends, go to the movies. But his life was confined to the stage. That’s how people liked him to be.
And then came controversies and the downfall. The very sad downfall of the legend. The world convinced itself and me pretty well to think of him as an anti-social, as a spoilt celebrity who had been molesting children, and who had been hiding his dirty side from the world. It made us despise him, hate him and condemn his music. The world he had touched had suddenly turned away. And even after he came out innocent in the trials against him, he was never the same MJ to the people. The saddest part is, most of us weren’t given to know enough about the fact of MJ’s innocence. His innocence is publicised only on a few online journals of the US of A. It was so important for people around the world to be convinced enough of the star’s intentions and character. But hell, it didn’t happen. Many of us still believe he was a devil in disguise. And many of us have despised him till his death.
Meanwhile, Michael struggled to live through the whirlwind. He disappeared into nowhere. His being defamed took a toll on him. The performer in him was devastated. He lay unnoticed for a long, long time.
Then life gave him a glimpse of his second chance. A chance to start anew. The world was willing to see him and hear him again. He would probably rise again. He even tried to, but the bruises of the past hadn’t seemed to heal. He stumbled again, suffering his deterioration silently, when the world was waiting for their King of Pop to steal their hearts again. He was skin-close to that second chance, but the end unfortunately came quicker than the start.
It aches to have seen a legend die in this way. It doesn’t just ache, it does excruciatingly. That man could have died in the middle of a great journey, surrounded by millions of fans, their love, grief and blessings. He could have died a performer, and more importantly, a happier and contented man, who made the best out of his one lifetime. He could’ve died leaving us all with yet another ocean of his iconic music and an autobiography, that had a happy ending…
(Michael, I don’t know what all you’ve been through…and I’m sure nobody can ever know it completely….but I strongly think of you as a survivor and one of the greatest and legendary musicians the world has ever seen…I don’t know when you’ll finally read this little tribute of mine, coz I’m sure there’ll be millions and millions of bigger ones….but whenever you do notice this one from up there, you can be sure that you and your music still continues to inspire me…and that I’ll miss you as long as music resides in my soul….I’ll always love you!)