Tag Archives: Death

JJ! The icon of 90’s Pakistan

8 Dec

I haven’t written anything in a while. I have been thinking of writing about few things for quite some time now, but somehow did not feel motivated enough to do so. But something happened today. Something that has affected me on a personal level and I feel like it will consume me if I don’t put it into words.

In all honesty I feel surprised at how much of a personal loss I felt when I first read the news of Junaid Jamshed aboard the ill fated PK-661. But I understand. Being a Pakistani millennial (or 90’s kid as we prefer calling it here), it was almost impossible not to have any effect of Junaid on your personal life. I am not using ‘personal‘ here in loose terms. This is true for many of us.

My first memory of him, like thousands of other kids back in the day is, of course, ‘Dil Dil Pakistan‘ and the nostalgia connected with it. It is more than just a patriotic song of my homeland. It was the song for which I would especially ask my mother to wake me up during late night PTV  programs. It was the song for which I would turn my focus away from my books and towards the TV while my mother was trying to put some Math in me (and ultimately pay a hefty price for it). It reminds me of happy times. And simpler times. It reminds me of 14th August every year. It reminds of the small Pakistan flags I would put up all over the walls of my childhood home. It reminds me of a time when I could proudly and whole heartedly embrace my love for my country without looking into its many flawed dynamics.

For many, his voice is reminiscent of their first love. Junaid belonged to first true ‘pop‘ boyband of Pakistan. For 90’s youth, melodies produced by Vital Signs provided a hefty dose of the carefree elation of young love as well as an antidote for broken hearts. Then of course there was a time when he started his solo career and many people weren’t sure if it would make the same impact. However when the first album came out it was an even bigger success with the most memorable romantic melodies and music videos that are timeless and still resonate with the common man, kind of like Ghalib’s poetry. The very first mix tape I made had the most songs from that very album. I still remember the countless times I would switch on my PC sitting in my hostel room only to listen to ‘Aietbar‘ on Winamp. It might not be true to call Junaid the best vocalist or musician ever produced by Pakistan, but his voice certainly resonated with the common man’s heart in the rawest, most honest manner no one else’s could. Sometime after he had decided to call it quits on his music career, he once happened to be on board the same flight of which my Uncle was captain. He recalls a frank chat with Junaid where he asked him the reason for quitting music, especially when his voice meant so much for so many people in Pakistan and around the world. “Why would Allah want to take that help away from people?”, he argued. My uncle, an avid fan, felt compelled to ask this question because he like many others saw it as no less than a tragedy to never be able to take the positive energy from his voice again.

But as time showed he never actually quit music. Not truly anyway. Apart from voicing ‘nasheeds‘ and ‘Naats‘, he would occasionally sing something, without musical instruments (if he could stop Salman from playing the guitar). While it was not the same thing, many of us who loved his voice still cherished these rare occurances.

But he was not just a singer. It would be unfair to his legacy to look at only one aspect of his life. If we are talking about the 90’s generation and the effect JJ had on their lives on a personal level, it would be dishonest not to mention that he was also an inspiration to a large segment of population for his religious and spiritual transformation. While all may not necessarily understand or agree with the choices he made, it is true that he found peace in something which eludes a lot of people and who spend their lifetimes without having a moment of acceptance. He had found it in religion. In this aspect as well, he very much represented the 90’s Pakistan and his transition to post-90’s evangelism that mirrored what was happening with a large segment of Pakistani youth which meant that he continued to be a hero to many people, even if not the same ones. His brand of religiosity like all other brands had its positive and negative elements. People, even fans like me, had a field day joking about some of his lets-just-say ‘inconsistencies’ for the lack of a better word. I would argue that even that was on many levels purely out of love for him because we all felt personally connected to him and felt ownership over his personal life like only true fans would. But by all accounts he was content with the life choices he made and continued to touch people’s hearts one way or the other. Like most people he was a man of many colours. But he was definitely THE icon of 90’s Pakistan and his life journey had stark similarities with Pakistani society itself. He may no longer be among us but he left an indelible mark and us 90s kids will forever be indebted to him.


P.S Time to listen to ‘Aitebar‘ one more time.



Like any other day

27 Oct

Yesterday I had just gotten up after my nap for which many homeless would be willing to kill while it was unsatisfactory for me, when I switched on m TV. I was going through the channels when I just happened to chose one news channel which was broadcasting live updates about poor old people waiting in line for their pension. As I was just about to start eating breakfast which was brought to me by my maid neatly placed at the trolly, suddenly breaking news appeared.

A man died while waiting in line for his pension to receive. The bulletin said he had been waiting for his turn all morning and came early in the evening before that to get a better place in the queue but still his turn did not arrive yet. Perhaps he died while he was hungry. Perhaps he had eaten something which was not suited for him, but I rather doubt that our National Banks provide any refreshments for long list of people standing in queue.

*Chehra bata raha tha keh maara hai bhuuk nai*
The look on the corpse seemed it died of hunger

*Or log keh rahay thay kuch khaa k mar gaya*
And people assumed it was case of food poisoning

After all, old people standing in queue are very huge in number. It is better to ignore than him and present odd beverages to selected clients who come by occasionally to make their huge deposits. In an age where transactions are done through ATMs and mere sms etc, government’s most effective way to give pension to elderly are making sure to get them in line. After all, every one got to work hard for earning right?

I had once or twice had the coincidence to fill my traffic challan in National Bank on the date when people usually receive their pensions. I remember very well the huge line in which people were standing in the queue in heat. I had come by on my car and because it was not like my bread and butter was dependent on that challan receipt so I skipped it that day.

I did that because I could do so.

On the second occasion this coincidence occurred, I chose to stay in queue. Mainly because it was the last day and I did not want to go to *kachehri*, mainly because of my discomfort, rather than the double fine. While staying there I observed how toilsome it can be for all the people that have to come there every month receive the cash. There were few chairs on which some people were sitting in turns by swapping their positions in the queue from time to time. The ‘lucky’ ones who had managed to find or convince any young member of the family to come along with them were able to remain in queue through proxy. However there weren’t many.

Just like the case of person in question. No one could find anyone related to him at the scene at the time of his death. I do not know whether he had no immediate children, or were they too busy, or had they abandoned him for a long time or they were still his dependents for whom he was waiting their overnight.

Watching the news and the breakfast in front of me I did not feel like eating. But than I ate none than less. While eating I controlled a tear drop, kept thinking that perhaps I should leave the remaining *paratha*.

In the end I thought empty gestures hardly matter. If I am not willing to do something real for him, why waste time on pathetic empty gestures. I finished my breakfast like I would any other day. I went to office like always. In the free time I got at office I checked my facebook updates. I had meant to write this that very day. But among office works, my facebook chat and just-sitting-and-doing-nothing, I did not find time. Sometime during the day I would think of him, make a sigh and than continue my routine.

Just like every one in Pakistan would do so. So much death due to natural disasters, terrorism and God knows what else our sense of nation has died out. Or perhaps it was never alive and we are deluding ourselves with such petty excuses. Few days ago a father burned himself alive in front of parliament. In places like Tunisia, such things bring down dictators. In Pakistan, it merely made a third page news item.

In between the thought of bread and butter every day and our personnel problems, we can only perhaps sigh for others misery. Or repeat the footage on TV. It will not do anything of course. Old people die every day without sparking revolutions.

While some get national holidays and titles after their death, it is not the same for others. Who can say struggle to find *roti* is less than struggle for democracy. If you ask me, a person who gets up to find work knowing that his children are hungry at home is perhaps the biggest deserving person to receive any honor. If you ask me this elderly should get Nishan e Pakistan.

After all he represent everything about Pakistan and its people. Week, hungry and poor.

But who cares anyway. Life goes on.