It’s been months since I last blogged, mostly because I got so depressed with events happening in the world and in my own tiny sphere of existence, bogged down with my mother’s illness and my own mortality. I felt a compelling need to withdraw fron the world, to hide in my safe cocoon so I could recuperate, heal and regain some strength from a series of mishaps and personal challenges that left me drained of life’s energy. I am recuperating from major surgery in my right eye, giving me time to reflect on my relevance as I stumble about with blurred vision. Thankfully, my mother now realises she cannot have me at her beck and call as much as before and seems better able to do things for herself again.
But today, for some strange reason I needed to crawl out of my hiding place to scrunch up my one good eye to painstakingly slowly write my farewell to Michael Jackson. Since my daughter broke the news of his death to me just before my eye surgery, I’ve been reflecting a lot about this man who was born the same year I was, 1958. I am ashamed to admit that I wasn’t a fan of his in those early Jackson 5 days even though I loved all his songs like “Ben” and “I’ll be there”. My idol then was David Cassidy of the TV sitcom, The Patridge Family, in fact the first record I ever owned was an EP of him singing “I think I love you” that my dad bought for me at age 12 years for doing well in school. There were also the Osmonds and the Jacksons on TV in those days but the reality was that Donny Osmond’s whiteboy good looks was more familiar and less intimidating than the psychedelic clad Jacksons with the cool moves and strange lingo. Black artistes were a rarity in Asia back then and my teen idols tended to be handsome white boys.
It was when I was studying in the United States did Michael Jackson make any impact on me, having caught all those thrilling times watching him on MTV, and he was just about everywhere, with every college kid having a red zippered jacket just like his, including the Malaysian students. Those were exciting times but as I drifted along with the chaos and turbulence of adulthood, work, marriage and children, I sorta forgot about Michael. I remembered reading the tabloid junk in the National Enquirer and shrugging it off while wondering what the heck was he up to but assuming that with his fame and fortune, success entitled him to eccentric behaviour. Then came all those other stuff that I didn’t really want to deal with or to believe in and so he was relegated to the back of my consciousness. Being perpetually financially strapped myself, I assumed with all his money he could buy happiness if he needed it. And now he has died, reportedly deep in debt, leaving three children with an uncertain future and even worse, with strange tales of his unhappiness in the last painful years of his life.
What happened to you man, my mind screamed!!! You were the symbol of my generation, the guy who made me less afraid of black people, who even made me forget whether he was black or white as a matter of fact! He was the one person I listened to when he urged me to heal the world so we can make it a better place. What he did through singing and dancing, I wanted to do through my writing, heck I even dreamed of winning the Pulitzer Prize one day. until I realised that it was only for Americans and Malaysians don’t really like to read books, especially not in English. Sigh! Maybe someday I will get down to achieving my dreams, especially now that my visual challenges makes my writing seem even more precious.
But you know, Michael Jackson did it all already, achieving all his dreams in his lifetime and I admired him greatly for that. Only why was he so unhappy? This was the question that kept going round and round in my head. The day I was discharged from hospital was the day of his memorial and I logged onto my Facebook account (which I had been avoiding as much as this blog) to watch the CNN live telecast. Needless to say the tears flowed despite my eye surgery. Since then I have been immersing myself in all things Michael on YouTube and Google and rediscovering his unbelievable otherworldly talents. The world will never see another Michael Jackson again ever, certainly not in my lifetime.
Much has been and will be said about him since his untimely death that will surely be full of crap and people will no longer be separating fact from fiction. To me Michael Jackson was just trying to live his life as best he could in the full glare of the relentless, unforgiving and judgmental media. Did the public need to know all that crap written about him and will continue to be written forever more, much of which was based on mere speculation? The haters who just make it a point to pollute cyberspace with their vicious vitriol are in feeding frenzy, picking on his remains until he has not even a shred of dignity left, not even in death. With the internet giving people the channel for their thoughts in blogs, facebooks, twitter, myspace and other social networking sites, there will be many holier-than-thou’s whose worthless comments are mere reflections of their own impotence as they choose to remember him as a freak, someone far less worthy of all that mega success than their own holy selves.
I prefer to remember Michael Jackson as just a man who tried to make some sense of this world by retreating into his own cocoon of fantasy. But in truth he had nowhere to hide except maybe in drugs and I still can’t make sense of his senseless death but then, I am not and never will be a Michael Jackson. I mourn his passing as the end of my own youth and, as mortality stares me in my one good eye, I wonder if those who sit in judgment of him realise that in fact the only person that Michael Jackson has ever harmed so carelessly was himself. He was just larger than life and when you fly as high into the stratosphere as he did, you can never come down. Rest assured that in cyberspace, Michael Jackson will live on forever, immortalised for generations to come, gaining legions of new fans. The lesson he leaves behind for future generations is not how to moonwalk but a reminder that if you want to go into orbit, you have to remember it gets mighty lonely out there and you run out of oxygen real fast. Maybe we all ought to stay closer to planet earth and try to find the kind of happiness that doesn’t cost a thing. Farewell Michael Jackson and may Allah have mercy on your soul.