Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A death in family

The day Michael Jackson died, I was rudely awakened by a phone call, at four in the morning. The voice on the other side was sobbing. I shouted hello, hello, seven times in a row. A thin voice replied: "He’s dead."

Who’s dead? I shouted back.

"Michael." I could not comprehend for a minute. I don't have any friend called Michael whose death I should mourn. Then the voice called again, "I’m Mohammed." And, I understood. I jumped out of the bed. What? I shouted. Michael Jackson is dead?
When I reached Mohammed’s place half-an-hour later, his eyes were blood-red. He has been crying ever since his father called from home to tell him the news. Around me, the room was filled things MJ: His CDs, each one of them, that too more than one copy, five Michael Jackson biographies, Magazines and newspapers where MJ has been featured, t-shirts with the logo of MJ’s invincible tour.

On the TV, MJ was singing ‘They Don’t Really Care About Us’, and in the middle of all this, Mohammed was sitting on a plastic chair, soaked in grief.
He’s an African student, in the city to complete his graduation. And, he’s a Michael Jackson fan, as fanatic as they come. His musician father introduced him to MJ when he was five. Since then, MJ has been his constant companion. He has savoured every moment of MJ’s public life — he has adored MJ like an elder brother since he remembers.
As I sat there, watching one MJ video after another, I could understand his grief. But, how do I console him? I can’t say, it’s okay. It’s not okay. How do you console someone when there’s a death in the family?

— Dibyajyoti Sarma

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