The moment I heard it, I felt that Sri Lanka will be in tears. The most prominent artist in the Island nation. Mourners must be flocking.
Micheal Jackson made it to the big screen in mid seventies. As a young minority child from a lower middle class family of many siblings in suburban Dematagoda, he had to go through lots of hardships. But the genuine talent was evident in every move. He's a great entertainer. And now he's the most popular Sri Lankan artist.
Jackson sang in English. This was quite a contrast in majority sinhala speaking Sri Lanka, but he gained the popularity. There was once a time where no musical stage in the tiny island was spared by him. Youth picked his hair style, everyone wanted to dance like him and girls got in dilemma finding husbands, who can beat his look. His Albums Thriller and Bad are regarded as universal and his songs like Stranger in Moscow is debated as political. But the legend continued.
Jackson made a great fortune in his early days. However in the recent years he went down with bad habits, lawsuits, divorces and it took a huge toll in his performances. He gave up his lush lifestyle and ended up living a solitary life in an economy apartment in Narahenpita flats. Yet he did not loose his fans and popularity.
Now he is dead.
First thing that came to my mind was how many people will come to pay final rites to the great artist. Since the body is at Narahenpita, I believed that Borella Junction would become a hectic place with queues of people passing it. Even Jothipala's funeral was visited by long queues of people, so how many would come for the king of pop in Sri Lanka. Sadly I had an essential need to get there in next few days.
That day, while traveling I was expecting to see girls crying in the bus. That was the kind of impression I had considering the craze they had for him. To my surprise I never encountered such events. Instead I over-heard two girls in twenties talking about the matter.
"Hey guess what, Jackson has died" said one.
"Who?" asked the other.
"Jackson ane, Micheal Jackson. That singing guy men"
"Ah, monava velada?"
"Heart Attack lu"
"Must be drinking"
"Hmmmm... issara nam man hari aasayi sindu valata. But now not that much. Action vediyi"
"Apooo. He thinks he's the guy. Now must be very old. hih. Are you going for the funeral?"
"You crazy? I only listen to his music. And anyways it will be telecast in TV no. We can watch it"
... and they moved into some other topic.
And my visit via Borella was smooth. No queues of people. They seem to have forgotten that habit. Several posters in his memory could be seen on walls.
I came home that day and switched on the TV. Some presenter was discussing about Jackson legacy. He had collected several artists including one who has taken Jackson as an idol. For that artist Jackson is a virtual grand master. He was called a Jackson copy-cat, a claim that he fondly accepted. Presenter was talking to him.
"... and what have you got to say about this unfortunate event?"
The artist smiled.
"He is a great artist. He has done a great service to music in Sri Lanka. We will always remember him"
He smiled again.
I started moving from channel to channel. I was expecting to hear the president declaring a mourning period and the funeral to be held in the independent square. But I couldn't find that news anywhere.
While toggling I accidentally switched to a talk show where few pundits were used to talk about practically everything. One such popular pundit was saying.
"... mahaththayo onna mathaka thiyaa ganna. Oya Micheal Jackson Americave upanna nam ada me rate minissu paare yanne anda andaa..."
Off went the alarm. I was woken up right from the middle point of that wicked dream. Yet it didn't take long for me to realize the truth in it.
Incidentally, Micheal Jackson has died - the lucky American real one.