#GeorgeMichael, my childhood and my dad’s youth

Don’t let the sun go down on me

Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see

I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free

But losing everything is like the sun going down on me

Today I woke up to yet another tragedy – the demise of George Michael (1963 – 2016). Ironic that this was his Last Christmas.

His original name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou and he was born on June 25, 1963. An English singer, songwriter, and record producer, he gained popularity in the 80s and 90s with his dance-pop songs.

I wasn’t a huge fan of George Michael, but I knew him so well that I felt like one. He was a part of my childhood because he was part of my dad’s youth.

His personal life doesn’t matter to me. He was a part of a lot of gossips, religious wrongs and so many controversies; but all that didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now. His songs were so much more – more than himself. His songs were people’s life, lifestyles and memories – isn’t that what actually matters?

When I was in school, every night after 9 pm when we were tightly tucked in bed, my dad would set his cassette player up and listen to numbers by Elton John, George Michael, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Elvis, Pink Floyd and who not. We could hear the faint noises from his room and him singing along.

I didn’t even know their names, these singers, I just knew my dad was listening to English songs and he loved them.

My dad had a story for every song. This song was released when I was in college…This one during the exams of so and so semester… This cassette was given to me as a gift… This I waited for in a queue… So many adventures just because of music. Can we imagine such dedication and quests for music today?

These celebrity singers meant a lot to him, and subconsciously they started to mean something to me.

We would visit The Hard Rock’s Café (in the UAE) and my dad would show us around, like it was a museum. That’s Elvis’s car… That’s the record player used by so and so… and so on. These were his reminiscences shared with us. They were given to him and he was passing it down.

My memories are very vague, but as I grew up and reheard the songs, like Last Christmas and I associated my memories, of my family, the time I had with my parents while listening to the songs… I didn’t even give meaning to back when it happened. The songs started to have a whole new meaning for me; my association with them was stronger. In turn, I started following the people who made them, who helped me make my memories.

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

But the very next day, you gave it away…

My parents would talk in song lyrics at times, just erupting into a duet.

My mum told me she had posters of George pasted inside her cupboards because her father did not like pictures in the house. They also cried their eyes out in school when the Wham! the band broke up, “We relied on newspapers, one of the girls brought the news to school and the whole bus and class cried. It was a sad day for us.”

I was very young back then not even in my teens; now they would never think of doing it as we have grown up and desi dilemmas – but back then they did and it was fun to see their youth.

These singers, their songs, their lyrics are a huge part of our lives. This millennial has suffered the most because we are losing on our heritage.

Yes, his songs will remain alive, his legacy will remain – but knowing that a legend died amongst us is heart-wrenching.

These artists were handed down to us, we didn’t grow up seeing them rise to fame. We just knew these people are forces to reckon with and at a point associated them with so many memories. When they leave, the world seems gloomier for some odd reason.

When Junaid Jamshed passed away on December 7, I had the exact same feelings. His songs were part of our lives, weddings, family gatherings, a means to praise one another. I didn’t see the release of his albums, but I know when he stopped singing, he announced it at his last concert in the UAE and the crowd lost it. They booed and screamed and called him names, claiming that he is lying, “He is Junaid Jamshed, he is music. How can he stop singing?” Even after he left signing, people mostly remembered him as the Pop singer he was, the Dil Dil of Pakistan.

These people won’t ever die for us because the inheritance they have left behind won’t ever fade away. Nonetheless, it hurts some part of me each time I see one of them leave. Death is inevitable but it is cruel.

Today, my dad, will replay all his cassettes and recall all the memories associated with Mr George Michael’s songs and I will be by his side recalling mine. He may have passed on but he has left millions with so many memories. His blessings are numerous.

Rest in Peace The Singing Greek.

I can’t light no more of your darkness

All my pictures seem to fade to black and white

I’m growing tired and time stands still before me

Frozen here on the ladder of my life


Published in The Nation Pakistan – Blogs 

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