Thursday, December 22, 2016

Selling short.

It’s a warm day, and I reminisce -
Am I dwelling in the weather,
Or is something amiss?

As snow crunches slowly under my feet,
(And I Yelp brunch places nearby to eat)
I think of my journey of 13 long years:
Have I grown wiser, conquered my fears?
Though I don’t have your initials carved in my arm,
I took on your name, I visited your farm,
I learned your jargon, befriended your kin,
Kept you in the loop, invited you to din.
Was your solo audience, your biggest fan,
Enamored by your wit, charmed by your pan(ache).

But who am I? An illusion, a daydream forgotten fast,
Teenage memorabilia, a memento from the past?
A photograph in your album, a number in your phone book,
A random hug in the middle of the night, or maybe I’m just a crook.
But I would move mountains to keep your dreams alive,
My best kept secret, always by my side.
You were the perfect song in my playlist of life,
With a voice that melted icecaps, and eyes that lit fires.

But I stop short, hold back my secret smile
I see decay, a barren wasteland stretched for miles.
While I fill up bottles and set them adrift,
You keep on rowing, alone in your ship.
You float in the midst of the signs,
And have been privy to all my designs.

While I could press delete and make promises till October
(And try to be provocative when I’m not sober)
I’ll say in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith
Till next November (or till you believe) – I’ll wait.

Monday, December 12, 2016


I’ve been wallowing in a self-induced JJ nostalgia-depression these past few days. Reliving a moment of my past with every song: from the Walkman days, to heartbreak in dorm rooms, unrequited msn messenger chats, and rainy drives with Amma on the canal.

Am I trying to regain some lost sense of wonder through all this? Do I thrive on sadness (as someone recently suggested)? Do I need to ‘feel’ to stay alive? I am not able to reconcile these emotions yet, but am allowing myself to experience organismically – for starters.

So when I heard, after the immediate stage of disbelief and confusion, I decided to embrace my sadness. And this time I had the luxury of expressing myself with absolutely no regard of others around me, the public, or passersby. Put on my headphones, blending in with my fellow commuters, and played my favourite unplugged version of JJ's Aitebar on repeat.

And I mourned.

I stood in the subway car, eyes glazed, tears streaming down my face gently. I wasn’t just mourning the innocent lives lost on that ill-fated flight, or solely the life of my childhood music icon, but my childhood itself: the hours spent collecting coke caps, waving flags to dil dil Pakistan, the hours spent rewinding and forwarding cassettes with tere liye hai mera dil,  tumhara aur mera naam, and other favourites. The months spent listening to Aitebar, completely heartbroken. That song got me through all of 2008. And parts of 2009.

So I owe a large part my life's most excruciating and happy memories to Vital Signs - the soulful, intense lyrics - and melodious voice of the handsome JJ. The glorious pop revolution of the 80s and 90s which inspired our generation in so many ways.

When Amma and I watched old Bollywood songs and she reminisced, I always used to wonder how it felt like to lose an icon you grew up watching on TV, or listening to. But now I understand how devastating that loss is. And how personal, the tragedy.

So, I thank you for the music. For the joy and the pain. For daring to follow your dream in an uncertain and suffocating political environment. For breaking down barriers. For paving the path - Woh raasta
Jis par nahin,
Koi gaya.