A couple of months back, I started posting Michael Jackson’s videos on my Facebook page. It was for no particular reason. One day, I realised that I miss the King of Pop — his songs, music videos and particularly his stage performances. So I went to youtube, searched for Michael Jackson and with just one click, I was taken back to my carefree childhood in the 1980s.
Little did I know that months later, MJ would die of cardiac arrest and that I, and his legion of fans, would be left confused and bereaved .
My sister was the first person to break the news to me. I had just woken up, expecting to get good news when I checked my Maybank2u page that morning — because all union members were expecting a chunk of money to be banked in — but her sms on my phone was the first thing that I saw.
I went to work that morning feeling dazed. I was happy I had more money in the bank but even that could not cheer me up. For what is an extra couple of digits in the bank account when compared to the news that the symbol of my childhood is now gone forever. The news of his death left me stupefied.
I can’t claim that MJ wrote the soundtrack to my life but he was there pretty early in my life. When my next door neighbour invited me to his son’s birthday party and bribed me with biscuits to get me to sing a song, I chose to sing Billy Jean although I didn’t speak even a word of English at that time.
Mind you, I was just a shy, skinny little Orang Asli six-year-old then. I stood with my back to the wall, mumbled some words to the tune of Billy Jean and was relieved when it was all over.
As soon as I knew how to read and speak a little English, I made sure I memorised the words to Beat It, bad, Thriller (right down to the speaking parts by Vincent Price) and all of his other hits.
I was never a dancer so I never attempted to moonwalk (more than once). Whenever I did try to imitate the move, I just shake my head in awe and think to myself, “How the hell does he do it?”
And I remember vividly being puzzled by the step-by-step guide for the dance step to Billie Jean (demonstrated by a bad MJ impersonator) which was printed on the sleeves of MJ’s pirated cassette that my older brothers bought from the pasar Ahad when we were living in small town Pengkalan Hulu.
Back then, straight-haired boys cursed their genes because they couldn’t get MJ’s fro or maggie mee curls.But when he started straightening his hair, I think a lot of curly haired boys attempted to relax their hair too.
When Remember the Time came along, I remembered my brother Sham imitating part of the Egyptian-inspired dance moves quite successfully. RTT is still one of my ultimate favourite songs from MJ.
But that was when MJ started getting weird. He became white, he got married twice, he had a court case etc etc. Wacko Jacko was more than a moniker, it was beginning to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The 20-feet-tall gold statue as seen on the CD cover of HIStory seemed a little too self-indulgent to me. I still liked his music. I just a little less love for MJ as a person.
But now that he has passed on, and with the benefit of hindsight, I can see now that he was just misunderstood. I think I finally “get” him. But I guess it’s a little too late for that now.
Some people believe that MJ will be much more of a success in his death than when he was alive. As horrible as that sound, it’s probably for the best. In Jermaine Jackson’s words: “Michael is a gift from Allah and that He has taken him back.” I think he also said that some didn’t appreciate this gift.
For me, I’m very thankful that Allah blessed mankind with Michael Jackson for 50 years. He had been a wonderful, precious gift indeed.