A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.
We all love to talk, don’t we? I know you do. Also, I know that you think you’re smart. If that’s the case, let me give you a platform to showcase your smartness. Here’s calling all the closet Shashi Tharoors to tumble out of your closets and join us on this magical linguistic journey we endearingly christened TALK TITANS 2.
Time: 12 noon
Talk Titans 1 was an in-house event that turned out to be a huge success. That is why decided to make it big this time. Hence Talk Titans 2. This is an international event where students from all colleges are invited to participate. What are the rules and regulations you ask? Please read on:
Each college can send a maximum of 1participant
Participation by registration only
The session will be held online – however using the internet to answer the questions will lead to disqualification
Participants need to keep their cameras/video ON throughout the event
Participants can use either a computer or a mobile phone as per their convenience – but not both at the same time
Dress code: participant’s college uniform
Zoom Link for the event will be sent on the day of the event
The participants must be:
Well-groomed and Confident
Fluent in spoken English
Good awareness of current affairs topics
(On the day of the event) Must be in possession of a computer/mobile phone with a decent camera and stable internet connection
Warning: The post contains the description of a burn victim.
Hello friends. I’m back after another hibernation. I’m also capable of going into aestivation – but I will explain that later. I wanted to start the new year with a blog so, here I am. Today I want to let you in on a page from my history.
Disclaimer: Names of the people involved have been changed for privacy reasons. I do not have their express consent to quote their names – there’s no way I could contact them for seeking consent, in the first place. Also, the pictures used in this post are purely representational. No actual/personal photographs have been used.
This incident dates back to 1993 – my FYJC days. The bucking bronco that I was, one would hardly ever find me home unless it is after dark. That day was no different. Two of my classmates asked me out to a movie. How could a 17-year-old refuse such a wonderful proposition? More so when someone else offers to pay. I joined the twosome and the movie we planned to go watch was Jackie Shroff’s Gardish (released 10th September 1993). Thanks to Wikipedia, I could confirm the timeline of my story.
Almost 2 hours into the movie there was a gruesome scene in which the villain sets Dimple Kapadia’s character ablaze. People of that ghetto run helter-skelter or just watch awestruck as she goes up in flame. Little did we know that in another scene, in my real life, something more gruesome lie waiting for me. Talk about coincidences – mine was terrible. Something that still gives me goosebumps. For statistics – we went to the 3-6 pm show of that movie. So, the immolation scene unfolded at about 5 pm or a bit later.
After the movie, the three of us were not done yet with our gallivanting. We decided to pay a visit to a good friend and classmate, Selena (name changed). We planned to take her along to visit yet another classmate. That’s when she broke the tragic news of the suicide attempt of one of our classmates – Jane (name changed). She had tried self-immolation. What an eerie coincidence – the time of her attempt coincides with the immolation scene from Gardish that we had seen a while ago.
That was the first time I had even been INSIDE a Burns Ward. For the uninitiated, that’s a section of the hospital where burn victims are treated. I get scared watching burnt faces/bodies. Just mere mention of the word ‘burns ward’ or ‘immolation’ brings back memories of that fateful day (even to date). We carefully paced into the ward, towards her bed. Since she was burnt to almost 95%, she was placed in a ‘burn cage’. Now that’s hospital equipment used to cover a burnt patient’s body so that the hospital linen does not touch their practically skin-less body.
There laid my heavily sedate beautiful classmate. She had almost no hair, no eyelashes, no lips and above all – she had lost most skin on her body. That means she could not be CLOTHED in any way. Also, her skin-less body could not have been exposed to the elements either for fear of septicemia. All in all, an effervescent, short-tempered, talkative girl lay there almost lifeless. She was thirsty, but could not be given any water since her throat was leaking and water could cause infection.
While we were still trying to process that frightful scene, we noticed her bandaged hands twitch. We were relieved. At least she was alive. That’s when we got the frightening revelation that she was AWARE of her surroundings. I still cannot imagine her condition – no skin, no strength, no self-esteem, no future but full awareness of the surroundings and excruciating pain. We spoke in hushed tones to her uncle who made a laboured effort to introduce her to the fact that her classmates had come to see her. We could hear her moan (with great effort since her vocal cords were damaged too). Suddenly she raised her hand and called out the name of one of my classmates. That’s when I skipped a heartbeat. I could hear my heart beating loudly. That’s how scared I was for that one moment. The classmate who she called out, had the never to take her hand in his – and talk to her. He spoke to her as if nothing happened. He asked her to rest and get back to school on Monday. This was a Thursday late evening. She got the humour and tried her best to laugh. Selena, who by now was in tears, ran outside the room, plonked on the hospital bench and wept like a baby (muffled though – we didn’t want Jane to hear our cries).
Somehow her uncle convinced us to leave since we were still school kids and had parents at home who would be worried by our absence. Not quite convinced and with a heavy heart, we walked away from the ward, picked our bicycles and pedalled our way home. No words were spoken. We first left Selena and later went to our respective homes. I was still shaken and apparently distressed. I slowly narrated the grim story of that evening. Even my parents were speechless. I could not eat that night – and for the first time – my mother allowed me to go to bed without dinner. She knew that after what I saw at such close quarters that night – I could not even think about food.
The day passed and Friday dawned. We went to school – but kept the fact to ourselves. Others thought Jane was unwell and hence absent. Somehow toward the end of the school day – someone got a whiff of the news and quite diligently spread the news. After school, we paid Jane a visit. That day she was weak, fighting a losing battle. We were not allowed to stay for long – doctor’s orders. We had to beat a hasty retreat.
The next day, we got the sad news that Jane’s battle was finally over and now she could rest in peace. Her pain and agony were over. A flower was nipped in the bud, that day. A girl who harboured the desire to become a pilot and soar in the air was being consigned to the flames. A beautiful (husky though) voice was silenced forever that day. Her reasons for suicide were shrouded in a mystery that continues to this date. Now, even if I knew it – I would never disclose it here.
I talked of coincidences earlier – this was the one I meant. While Dimple’s character was set ablaze on-screen, Jane had set herself ablaze the same day – almost at the same time, in real life. We could never have imagined that such a horrifying coincidence was waiting for us just around the corner. Although 29 years have passed – the mere mention of that name (cannot be mentioned here) – still brings back a mixed bag of memories and emotions. All I can say today is – may her soul rest in peace. At the same time, I’d like to request everyone reading this to take life seriously and not end it on such a gruesome note.
You guessed it right. It’s indeed Michael Jackson I’m referring to. It’s his birthday today (sob, sob). As a generation, we grew up on his songs. Then I was a youngster; I could just listen to his songs and enjoy them. As I grew up, I could write too – that’s what brings us to this blog, today. I wanted to use this opportunity to pen a few lines about the King of Pop. Unlike a few other worthless singers who audaciously titled themselves ‘King of Pop’, MJ was named that by his producers, critics and fans unanimously. That’s what a true legend looks like.
Mah nigga… wait, I’m not Samuel L. Jackson, so I’ll drop the n-word. MJ was born on 29th August 1958; 18 years before I did. That’s approximately one generation ahead. No wonder, my Mamas (maternal uncles) were hooked on this kind of music. The household I grew up in, was quite liberal in terms of religion, politics, music, etc. – no bounds, no limits. Audiotapes (it was the ’70s) of M.S. Subbalaxmi, Yesudas, Ilayaraja could happily co-exist with MJ, Boney M, Carpenters, ABBA, etc. This is what exposed me to equal amounts of Indian and Western music.. both contemporary and classical.
Getting back to MJ… he began early as the lead singer of The Jackson Five. His parents’ musical pursuits brushed off on him too. While his father played the guitar in his leisure, his mother played the clarinet and the piano. Music already ran through his veins. I am sure that is what made him joined his brother’s band – aptly titled ‘The Jackson Five’. They were Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael (R.I.P.). The other four brothers are alive, though. It was around 1975-76 that MJ decided to go solo. But hold on…. this is not his biography. This is about how MJ’s musical timeline coincides with my life. Let’s get to that point now.
My first brush with MJ music dates back to his fifth solo album – OFF THE WALL which was released in 1979 (I was 2, going on 3). One song stayed with me – the soulful ballad SHE’S OUT OF MY LIFE. Unlike other fast-paced MJ songs with oodles of oohs and aahs… this song was slow and melodious. If I had a break-up, it would cut right through my soul. But I was just 2 – a toddler. ‘Relevance’ hadn’t set in yet. I just enjoyed the songs.
Cut to 1982. Then I was 6. No longer a toddler – I was then a boy and could walk and talk properly. While the entire world was going ga-ga over the song THRILLER from that album – I was replaying a few other tracks too – from the slow-paced HUMAN NATURE to the medium-paced BILLIE JEAN, BEAT IT and THE GIRL IS MINE all the way to the fast-paced WANNA BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’. I loved THRILLER too (so does my 9-year old daughter). Those were the days – school days – carefree days full of fun and frolic.
Then came DANGEROUS in 1991. This time though I was slow on catching up with MJ. It was only in 1997 that I graduated from college and got my first job that I could PURCHASE my first audiotape… MJ’s DANGEROUS. I relished on gems like BLACK OR WHITE, WHO IS IT, REMEMBER THE TIME etc. While REMEMBER THE TIME reminded me of the time when I had my first brush with teenage romance (one that failed miserably), soulful ballads like HEAL THE WORLD begged the whole to restore peace and harmony. BLACK OR WHITE sent a message asking all of us to get above RACIST lines. These songs indeed had a considerable influence on my persona.
This stage of my life marked my growing distances with MJ’s music. This was the time when I was introduced to the INTERNET and had access to other artists’ music. All I had to pay for was internet access. I could (surreptitiously) download several MP3 tracks. That was the in-thing those days. ‘In-thing’ = ‘trending things’ in millennials parlance.
Somehow I could never get MJ’s music out of my system. I bought his audio tapes (no money for CDs or CD players, you see). The DVD was for the rich. We could go as far as CDs. I could barely manage 1.44 MB floppy disks. Hence – audiotapes. One thing led to another and one sad day, i.e. 25th June 2009, I got the sad news of MJ’s death. I was in a movie hall. It was the interval and I had gone to buy some coffee. It was purely instinctive. I bought the coffee, turned around and saw the large-screen television flashing the news of MJ’s accidental death (lethal overdose of propofol).
I was in tears. To me, he was a living legend (till that day – afterwards we could not use the word ‘living’ alongside legend). I was amongst a crowd. Many MJ fans like me, were confused – not sure how to react. I wanted a release. I dumped my coffee and headed for the loo. I locked myself and wept my heart out. It was over in a minute. I was 33, a man and crying in public was not meant for men (that’s what the society said and I believed then). I regained my composure, washed my face and walked out of the movie. After that, I could not watch the movie for obvious reasons.
I went to my apartment and crashed (went to sleep). I didn’t want to talk to anyone that night. All his melodious songs were racing in my mind. I’m sure some readers may think, “big deal – he was just an artist”. They say, “to each, his own”. For others, it may not be a big deal – but to me it was. Not that I went into mourning, or drank heavily – nothing like that happened. It was just immense grief – that’s all. I was out of it the next day. The show must go on. Time waits for no one. In a few days, I was over my grief completely. Akon gave me a good parting song for MJ – HOLD MY HAND. While the song was recorded in 2007 i.e. when MJ was alive, it was posthumously released in 2010. That song still gives me a ‘lump-in-the-throat. It’s been over a decade now (12 years to be precise).
The void he left in the musical scene (in my opinion) remains vacant. For people like me, there won’t be another MJ. So here’s to you MJ – Happy Birthday. I’ll miss you till the end.