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Remember the Time

Michael Jackson died and a flood of memories knocked so many people into a tight bear-hug with their pasts.

July 1, 2009 7:22:44 am

Michael Jackson died and a flood of memories knocked so many people into a tight bear-hug with their pasts. I have always believed that nostalgia is a terrible emotion (it overflows with the sense of wanting all that used to be and now isn’t there and will never return),but youth is a phenomenal thing. Youth is the symbol of that time in your life when your mistakes weren’t made,where your slate was clean,when you felt and probably were invincible and where God was your team’s cheerleader and devised the machinations of your fate.

Simply,to be young is to be ageless. What you don’t feel won’t cage you. What you don’t care about will never haunt you. And this has little do with numbers and everything to do with a state of mind. As long as you feel good about yourself,you can even be young at 60. This,I can only guess.

Good music serves this purpose. It spreads joy,it elevates your mind,it thrills and releases you. But great music goes even a step further. It makes you bust a move. When you shake your booty,the inhibitions,the guardedness,the cloistered space your heart now occupies,cease to be. That great song becomes your anthem and how you fit your body into its groove becomes your allegiance to it.

In that moment in time,you could be 18 or 80,because age would be that word you didn’t know how to spell. You could have a face ravaged with the scars of time but you would be the most beautiful person in the room. You could have a body humbled by the wrath of disease,but you would still be the sexiest person you ever met. You could be fat or thin,bald or hairy,dimpled or freckled,black or white. It don’t matter.

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The first time I went to a nightclub I was 12. The DJ played Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough and my body wanted to revolt against the shyness that I was. But,all I managed was the twiddling of my hidden toes in unison to that slinky,sexy beat. When I heard Wanna be Startin’ Something,I decided to be braver. I cut out the lights in the room,and went into an apoplectic dance rage,which I was forced to abandon once my cousins switched on the lights and laughed so hard that they made me cry. Billie Jean broke my ankle while I attempted the moonwalk and Smooth Criminal hurt my heel while I tried to stand at that gravity-defying angle. Remember the time and In the Closet were always sex songs (because they made you grind),while Liberian Girl and I Just Can’t Stop Loving You were songs for kissing,necking and as they love saying in India,“slow dancing”.

This last weekend I revisited in memoriam a lot of these songs and videos with my friends. Some of them I hadn’t seen and heard in ages. But all of them,even many moonwalks later,elicited the same reactions in me. I had to dance. And that made me feel cool and hot and very young at heart.

It is ironic then,that the inventor of all this legendary music and dance,whose legacies are redolent all over the airwaves today,had all his short life,battled with age. Many psychologists who studied the anomaly,the contradiction that was Michael Jackson,labeled him as someone suffering from “Arrested Development”. He never grew up and he never grew old. He just grew weird. But his art always remained rich. He sang like no one else and when he danced,he made you forget he had become an increasingly grotesque and disfigured creature,a mutilated Peter Pan,a dysfunctional man-child.


You fell in love with him all over again for his singularity,for his unbridled genius and for the way he made you feel. If only some of that amazing grace from his craftsmanship had spilled into his personal life,Michael Jackson may have had a very different existence,and today,he would still be singing and dancing.

Nostalgia killed Michael Jackson.

(Write to the columnist at

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First published on: 01-07-2009 at 07:22:44 am

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