Hameed Zahran – a requiem for another mother’s son..

Hameed Zahran – a requiem for another mother’s son..

I didn’t know there was space in my heart for another mother’s son but there was.

Hameed Zahran was my son’s batch mate from law school – I never saw him face to face but his zest for life, music and fellowship flowed through my son’s mentions many times. I learnt, between work, cooking and a hundred other things we do in a home, that he loved composing his own music, sang often, carried his guitar with him and loved to travel.

And that he was the soul and the sound of almost every singing competition. That he could sing in Sinhala and English too. That he sang with gusto and fervour, a young man whose talent was more than a measure of his capacity to give of himself to others.

When on Thursday the 02nd of March, one day after Lent started, my son suddenly burst in on me and told me that his friend had died, the shock of it just took my tiredness at the end of a long work day, away.

How? I wanted to know. What happened? How does a lively 22 year old die like that?

To cut a long story short, he just happened to be at the beach side, accompanying two other friends looking for cardboard boxes for an event, when along comes two policemen who choose to frisk him on the rail tracks. Hameed hands the policemen his wallet and the phone and the next nano second, a train comes along and hits him in the back.

He dies 24 hours later in hospital. After an operation in which doctors fought hard to save his life – but could not. His body was damaged too much by the train hitting him at that speed, at that distance.

I try to hold back tears. But they flow freely, as freely as they did when my father passed away almost four years ago.

A son from another mother. His memory stares back at me, his cheerful eyes lighting up the photo on his Facebook wall.

I can’t even bring myself to think of his grieving parents. I heard about the parents having to wash his body before burial as the Moslem custom requires them to. What struck me like a thunder was what his mother would have felt, washing him in death, as she did in life as a little boy.

I could feel the beat of her heart, being torn apart, muscle by muscle, vein by vein.

No mother would want to go through such pain. It was not just unbearable. It was unneccesary ; and in vain.

One more conversation, one more song from his carefree style of singing, his hair flowing, his eyes glowing , one more moment of living a vibrant life, one he was snatched so soon from.

His friends remember Hameed the patient listener, the wandering free spirit, the friend who always had a smile. And a song. And a word of comfort.

A gracious soul, vivacious in life.

Grief has no words. It does have a place, one that squeezes everything out of you.

As I write this, I try to hold back the tears. I never knew him – I only knew him through my son’s words. Yet his spirit reached out and touched me, a young man whose zest for life, for music and for friendship descended through it all.

Who was responsible for his death? Why did he have to go so early?

Those are the questions his friends, as would-be lawyers are asking. They will undoutbtedly  find their answers.

Until then, goodbye sweet prince – may the turf lie gently over you.

You live up there, in the clouds, where you would serenade Heaven with your music.

Down here,  your friends will always miss you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Eagle that landed..

The Eagle that landed..

Growing up in the Seventies was a lot of things to a lot of people. AM Radio, bellbottoms, tight shirts and afro hair dos – and of course, great music. Music that has left its own indelible mark in the hall of fame, sealing its status forever. Seventies music. Sweet to the soul.

Music in the Seventies was also about many bands – but one stood out. The Eagles.

I still remember listening for the first time, to Hotel California and the New Kid in Town. The lyrics, some forty five years later, are still crystal clear in my head. The tunes stayed there too. For always.I would come home after school and still in my school uniform, take out my song book (we actually had song books then) and belt it out.

The legendary Eagle was Glenn Frey upfront – the man with the guitar. Of course, the others were there including Don Henley whose duet with Patti Smyth “Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough” was in itself a great hit but Frey stood out for his incredible talent and skill. The world is unlikely, in the opinion of a Sixties born woman who grew up during the Seventies, to see such talent again.

The Eagles marked a historic entry into music for me and my generation. Hotel California and the New Kid in Town were more than songs for us – they symbolized an era, they were anthems we sang in the shower and at home and believed in. We wore denim bell bottoms, rocked our hair, chewed gum and drank Coca Cola, moving with the rhythm. Those were the days without internet, smart phones and YouTube. The only music was heard on the Radio or on the vinyl or the cassettes. But we didn’t mind – the music was too great to complain about anything else.

When hell froze over and The Eagles returned to stage once again in their much celebrated reunion concert during the Nineties, it was a long Oh-my-Gosh-I-can’t-believe-it’s-real moment for the likes of me. They were back and they were The Band as far as it went. I would always watch re-runs of the CD, now hacked, of the line up playing Hotel California – Glenn and Don leading. What a moment it was.

They were and are strictly Seventies men. They didn’t do metrosexual appeal – they had plenty of talent to compensate for. And we loved them for it. The power of Glenn Frey’s voice, the strum of his guitar would forever be etched in our minds as the icons of an era during which the world heard some of the best music created ever.

Today, a generation later, my soon-to-be eighteen year old son, a product of the internet generation with all of the world’s music at his feet, chooses to play Hotel California with his friends. Will always carry The Eagles on his whatever- he- loads- his- music- on- to – the smart phone , the computer or the iPod.Frey on guitar. Nothing else would do because nothing else can even come closer.

It thrills me to know that my son’s generation can still appreciate and understand good music – despite all the noise that passes for music today. That when choosing tracks to play, they would still get drawn by the hauntingly beautiful melodies that rocked the world – from Hotel California to Take It Easy, Tequila Sunrise, Lyin’ Eyes, One of These Nights and many others. Oh, what music and what talent.

I remember the Glenn Frey track of “The Heat is On” from the Beverly Hills Cop during the Eighties. I remember picking up the vinyl from a record store in Bonn, where I was living at the time. Eighties were still great for music but it took a maestro like Frey to bring out a cutting edge hit – in a music scene dominated at the time by the likes of Madonna, Cindy Lauper and Spandau Ballet.

So, Glenn, what an inning it has been – for a talented young man from the Motor City whose life changed in 1970 – and in turn, he changed the flavour of music as we have known it, not just for one generation but many that followed.

Tonight, as the world mourns the landing of an Eagle, rest in peace, Glenn. May the turf lie gently over you as your legacy survives into many generations to come.