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.


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