Strange! The thought that Michael Jackson is no more fills me with this odd feeling of hollowness. I have never seen the man who inhabited a world not even remotely connected with mine. Yet, the sense of loss, the sadness is real – though I don’t quite understand it.
He entered the world of our imagination in the early seventies when I was a graduate student in St Teresa’s college, Ernakulam. The Jackson’s Five became a rage, and Michael Jackson, the youngest of the brothers,– everybody’s pet, tho he inspired in us a sense of awe. Little did we realize then that he would become what he did!
Those were not the days of TV when we could get an occasional glimpse of the pop stars, or of the Internet and you tube when we could see them whenever we wanted. Facilities such as music downloads or copying into Cd's did not figure even in our wildest dreams. Radiogram and tape recorder were the only mode of listening to music. I am trying to recollect how we became so familiar with this prodigious singer, given the limited opportunities to get even a glimpse of his pictures, or listen to his compositions.
WE used to listen to Radio Ceylon which was the best radio station for western pop music. Also, The Voice of America Morning Show, which my friends and I listened to religiously, even on working days, was another source of information about the happenings in the music world. There were other stations too like radio Australia but the first two had the best reception.
I remember how, the minute a Jackson’s Five number was announced, I’d run to the telephone to ring up my friend - just in case she wasn’t tuned in. Mostly she’d be, and would be irritated by the distraction.
If I remember right, Looking through the Window by the Jackson’s Five consecutively topped the hit parade of Junior Statesman (popularly known as JS), a Magazine which gave news about the jet set crowd around the world, the Bollywood masala and news about the music world. It was a very popular magazine among my friends. The Jackson’s Five used to figure regularly in this magazine, and we got our first glimpse of the boy Michael Jackson from JS. For some reason, the magazine was wound up and we resented it intensely.
Strange that I should be talking about all this in a post dedicated to Michael Jackson. The news of his death took me back to those days when he entered our imaginary world of music as a sensational prodigy.
His gradual metamorphosis into an iconic figure was a big disillusionment for me. Here, I speak only for myself. A prude that I am, I saw it as an eventual loss of innocence. But, I felt relieved and vindicated (?) whenever he brought out his fabulous albums. When the charge of child abuse was slapped on him, I remained neutral – refused to feel, for Jackson’s personal life had already turned out to be a let down. But then, I wanted to believe that everyman is innocent till found guilty, and that there are a lot of people out there who’d go to any extent to extract money from celebrities.
I repeat. It is very strange that someone who had, has, or never will have anything to do, most remotely, with my world can affect me so much by his departure. In this context I am reminded of what my son told me how he felt when Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed.
“The same strange feeling I had when Pope John 11 passed away”, he said.
Needless to say I was scandalized that he could talk of the two in the same breath.
“But you were very distressed when the Pope died. Do you feel the same now?”
Then he explained.
“Distressed? Not the way i felt when the Pope died.Not at the rational level of consciousness. The sense of Good and Evil happens at that rational, conscious level. The same feeling I’m talking of happens at another level. It is a feeling of loss. These are people whom I have grown up with, they inhabit our consciousness as permanent residents. We unconsciously relate to them as people who’ll always be around. And when they disappear permanently, it is a strange feeling.”
How right he is! Good, bad or ugly belongs to the thinking, rational and conditioned level of human consciousness. At that level, we are judgmental; we are governed by a certain value system. But there is another level to our mind in which a world takes shape in ways unknown to us. Many of its inhabitants have nothing to do with the small physical world in which we function on a daily basis. The values that regulate our lives are not applicable there. In that world, we are more charitable human beings , willing to give the devil his due, and everyone the benefit of the doubt. The good and the bad coexist there, peacefully, for that world is free from moral compulsions.
I don’t know if this mind probe is making any sense. But I had to sort it out with myself why I felt this terrible sense of loss at the death of a pop musician who is so completely removed from my world in every sense of the word.
May his soul rest in peace.