Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Michael Jackson's death: Was I shocked or Saddened?!

I usually do not have time in the mornings to watch television, not even the news. But Friday, 26th June 2009 was rather lazy and sleepy.
Rains had come after a long and eager wait and there was much relief in the air, which tempted me to indulge in a luxurious nap that could partly make up for some of the sleep lost on hot sultry nights. But the maid could knock any time now and I could not afford to be sleepy at that hour of the day. To keep myself awake and alert I decided to switch on the TV and go in for one extra cup of tea.

As the television screen lit up with images, the news of the death of "The King Of Pop" at first did not get down to my lethargic mind. It was only after a while that some of it started making sense.

Was I shocked or Saddened?!

Honestly I still don't know.

But as the clips from the concerts and interviews of the phenomenally popular Michael Jackson were being played out, I felt nauseated. All of the rumors that were a part of his existence gripped me tight. Some said he was a child abuser, some said he had converted to Islam, yet some others said he was homosexual. But equally publicized and sensationalized were his two marriages and three children.

So it was always a certain kind of mystery that Michael Jackson lived with. His plastic surgeries, his dancing, his singing...in fact everything that he did made great news and above all it sold even faster than the legendary hot cross buns. And who doesn't fancy a cash minting machine that can also walk, talk, compose music and sing ?!

It is said that his Mumbai concert tickets sold for anywhere between 10,000 to 20,000 rupees!

Some months back I read on an internet site that Michael Jackson was suffering from an incurable disease. My heart sank as I saw the picture accompanying the text. It was so much in contrast to the vibrant and lively pictures from the exuberant and energetic performances of the sensational star. It was unbelievable that someone so enthusiastic could be suffering so much pain. But a little later one heard of his come-back. It was said that this immensely popular entertainer was to perform in London next month (and now we also know that millions had already bought the tickets to see their idol back in action.)

Everything seemed satisfactorily back in place.

But on this rain-soaked Friday morning television news channels had this devastating headline:Michael Jackson is dead!

And one would hope that also dead are all the rumours and controversies surrounding him...at least a dead man deserves that much grace. But it is not going to be so easy for the controversies to die. His death, like his life is shrouded in mystery with his family demanding a second autopsy and the possibility of a drug over-dose doing the rounds.

He perhaps played dangerously with life. From his humble beginning he rose to rule the hearts of millions. There was surely something very endearingly enigmatic about him. It was not only the young that went crazy with his music, he had charmed people from all classes across the continents.

Regrettably I never had an ear for pop music and hence never tried to understand what he sang, the music that he played or the dance that accompanied his singing, and thought it exorbitantly wasteful to spend such astronomical amount of money (which is often more than an entire family's monthly income in countries like India) to see a man like Michael Jackson perform.

And then there are more like me who think his death has been hyped too much by the media as someone pointed out as to why is so much space being given to an entertainer, who we all know was not exactly a worthy figure, while people don't even know or care that a great thinker of the last century, Giovanni Arrighi, died on the 18th of June? Undoubtedly, Giovanni Arrighi was a great scholar of political economy and sociology, but was sadly neither a celebrity nor an entertainer.

I think this is one of the ironies of the age we are living in that great thinkers and scholars are not celebrities, and hence not many know about them nor is the measure of loss calculated ever to understand their worth and mourn their loss.
But death as they say is a great equalizer and let us not compare because obviously there is no ground for any such possibility. It is for the people to think whose contribution to humanity was more valuable.

May the departed souls of both Arrighi and Jackson rest in peace.

Zohra Javed

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