Chester Bennington. Linkin Park. It is so unreal thinking that Chester Bennington is not with us anymore. It feels so, so weird that I will never be able to hear Chester’s voice in a new way again. Like a pit has formed in my stomach which I cannot fathom. That no song ever now released will have a new style of Chester’s voice.
Chester’s death came as a shock, an insanely massive one. My friend, Simran Bodh called me up a little after midnight. At first, I thought it was a call because she was pissed off because I didn’t tell her I had finished “Kafka on the Shore”. I picked it up nonchalantly and asked, “Sup”. Her only words were, “Did you hear about Chester?” And I went like, “What Chester?” And she went like, “Chester from Linkin Park.” And I was like, “Of course I know Chester from Linkin Park (Come on, I grew up with Linkin Park)”. And then she went, “He died.” And I was incredulous. I was like, “Are you mad?” And then she told me to check google and I did. And all the incredulity in me about what she said was torn away. I thought it would be some fucker spreading misinformation or something, like how we had talks of Linkin Park breaking up and stuff. I checked google, and I wrote Chester Bennington, and the second search result read “Chester Bennington death”.
I went silent. I was like, “What the Actual Fuck are you talking about.” I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I checked Wikipedia, twenty different articles and I just couldn’t believe it. I was on call for two hours, wherein I just spent the first hour repeating, “Na he’s just gonna wake up and be like ‘It’s all fine. I’m alive’. You see.” Some part of me just couldn’t believe he was gone. I kept on reading more and more articles, as though it might actually reverse what had happened or that all of them shared a source which was wrong.
The second hour I spent on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, looking at all the messages people left for Chester. So many people had put up so many beautiful things. One person told how he had loved them and he even introduced them to his children. One person put up a video, showing the first song they ever played on the piano: In The End. So many people saying that Linkin Park song’s got them out of a tough time. One person said My December pulled him out of many a tough times and he was sorry it couldn’t pull Chester out of it too. My brother has Iridescent as his pick me up song. If only Chester could see the impact he and Linkin Park have had on all of us, the impact their voice had on us. Maybe.
It was only after he died that I got to know Chester had depression. I knew he was molested as a child and had drug and alcohol addiction issues, but I never knew about his depression. I saw an interview that day itself in which he said (I’m paraphrasing), “There are days when I feel nothing. I want to feel happy, but I wake up and I can’t.”
There are a lot of people who are going around saying Chester is a coward for committing suicide, and it wasn’t the way. But suicide is never the first option, or the best. It is always the last option. When you think nothing else can pull you through. And frankly, even though I’ve never been through it, I feel it is not easy. Think about Chester’s thought process. When he was thinking of committing suicide, how much strength he would have needed. He was leaving behind six perfect children, a beautiful wife, and an amazing team with whom he had been working for the past 17 years (20 if we also count their Xero years). And he still did it, because he saw no other way.
Linkin Park has been a friend all these years. They are the first band I ever heard, and alongside Fireflies by Owl City and some songs by Maroon 5 and Death Cab for Cutie, have greatly influenced a lot of my works, especially my earlier ones. Every piece I write, I make it a point to reference Linkin Park, because it is because of them that I am able to write about things much more mature than my age. The Parks in my blog name stand for Linkin Park.
All these years, for some reason, no matter how different Linkin Park became from their initial sound, they always pulled me back. I had this cycle for every album they released after Minutes to Midnight. I used to listen to it, I was like, “This music is so different,” then I wouldn’t listen to all the songs as much as other Linkin Park songs and then one day I would listen and realise that it is still Linkin Park, even though their music has changed. And I would be hooked. I eventually realised it. It was their lyrics. Deep, and powerful. Every new album, I would see that their music was vastly changed from their previous album and they still rocked it. Every single time. Their lyrics allowed me a view into worlds and emotions beyond what I knew at that age. They still allow me to view into different worlds, and shake me apart with the strength of their lyrics. All the time leading up to One More Light, everyone went crazy. “What is Linkin Park doing,” “They’ve sold out,” and what not. I heard Heavy and I thought it was good. It wasn’t their best song, but I still liked it and it struck a nerve with me. Despite their change in music, they hadn’t really changed. They still kept their songs emotional and from the heart. Then came Battle Symphony, and I was blown away!!!! I was like, “WOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHHHHHHHH!” I can’t even put into words how awesome that song is. Like, Damn! Amazing! And then, they followed it up with Invisible and I went like, “DUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!” Linkin Park has always got it. Both of these songs have somehow crept up to positions 5 and 6 respectively in my “All Time Top Linkin Park Songs”. And every song I hear of Linkin Park’s, I go like, Damn! Even after all these years, their songs are still intact with immense power and meaning. Their songs never lose their charm.
So, when I heard Chester died, I just felt sad. It was upsetting. It was like, losing a friend, and knowing that nothing you could do to help him. If only my writing about my love for him and Linkin Park could keep him alive, or bring him back, I would never stop, never finish this article. And there is no need to worry, because even after I’m tired, or gone or unable to continue, someone else will take my spot. And we would have only stopped when Chester would’ve been ready to go.
There are still so many things I haven’t articulated, simply because I don’t know what they are, and the things I do know, how to write them. Linkin Park for Life! I grew up on the Park. We all did. Some of us grew up and went away from the park, some of us are still there, roaming around. But all of us, we Grew up on the Park.
Rest in Peace Chester, keep rocking wherever you are, until we see you again, and hear your voice in new styles. Godspeed my friend, I will always remember you. You will always be in my memory
It was a dark day in the history of humankind. It heralded the oncoming of our destruction, our end. A metaphor for our recklessness and over indulgence in ourselves; our rampant ignorance to anything not us. It is day stamped forever in the buried recesses of our brain. We may not think about it all the time, but it strikes our minds irregularly.
It was seven in the morning but only because our watches said so.
From inside our houses, we saw orangish crimson streaks falling in our houses and on our streets irregularly. We checked our clocks. They said seven am. But the outside said seven pm. We got out of our beds, put on our glasses and slippers and cautiously, fearfully walked to some avenue of viewing the outside. Some of us went out the front door, some peeked from the delicate security of our glass windows, and some walked out onto their roofs.
It was a view to be behold by, bewildered at and never to be understood.
There were flocks of black birds, ravens, brewer’s blackbird, crows, great tailed Greckle. Anybody who has even seen these birds in a picture, especially the raven know how scary they are. Fully black and ferocious. Able to send a cold sweat from your head to your spine. TO see so many flying overhead, irregularly blocking the orange streaks of the sun. Blacking the sun away from us. It made us breathe heavily and sweat profusely.
Even though it had only been minutes since we had gotten up’ the day completely befuddled and scared us. We gulped and looked all around, to the neighbours we never even knew existed. We felt a dread because of the uncertainty. Had we known each other, being out of our houses and looking at each other would have given us some confidence. Some sense of comradery. But it didn’t. So we all stood in a collective feeling of dread at the situation.
We didn’t know what much else to do, so we stood staring at the sky before we all inevitably went back in. Nobody dared bringing out a gun and shoot at the birds. Out of fear of what would happen. We all went back in, huddled without families and acted as though it was just another day. Except instead of going back to our work or our mundane tasks, we stayed at home and talked to our families. We stayed till it passed.
As it passed, we realised how little we knew of ourselves and our family and our neighbourhood. As the day passed, that thought sent more shivers down our spine rather than the eerie beginning of the day we had. Which makes me think. Deep down, the only true things to be fearful of in this world are our own indulgences and our isolation from people. The only true monsters here are us. Us without attachment to things.
None of remember how the day ended. Eventually we forgot all about it when we were with our families and fell asleep normally. The next day we woke up to a sunny day and the previous morning seemed like a nightmare which never happened. The proof of its existence was the essence of the day which lingered on in us.
That day passed. It had to, I realise. It bewilders me, but that doesn’t matter.
We still haven’t worked it all out. Was it a mystical phenomenon? Or a meteorological one? The truth is however, we will most probably never know. Nor I believe should we. We should only know that it happened. The irregular orangish rays still hide in our minds somewhere, lighting up our deep buried feelings about that day and what it taught us.
Ever since Linkin Park’s Blackbirds was released, I always wanted to write a piece about it. This isn’t my interpretation of it, but inspired by the title.
“The last time I saw you was a year ago, when I left. And now I’m looking at, and you’re as beautiful as ever. Nothing could ever dull it. Even though I’m only looking at your back in this hotel bar, I can’t stop thinking about you and me, as we were a year ago. Always in love. Always with each other in the backseat of your car. Pulling each other closer, never letting go. And I’m here thinking, if we could do it once more. To pull each other closer in the backseat of your car. To re-live our moments together, fall in love again. I’m here thinking whether it would be the right thing to do. How can I know? I never once checked up on you or how you were holding up, or how my going away impacted you, or anyone else for that matter. I’m here waiting for you to maybe turn around and see me once. If in your eyes I see what I’ve been looking for, I’ll stand here like a rock. But if not I’ll leave the very next second. You’ll think you saw me, and then smile and realise your mind was playing tricks on you and I’ll leave you forever. But I can’t think whether this is right or wrong, and then, all of a sudden, you turn around.”
“I saw you, standing there frozen; like the ghosts of you I’ve always imagined. I didn’t blink all of a sudden, because I knew if I blinked, you would vanish. There was so much distance between us; which I think was the metaphor for the distance between us now. I thought if walking to you and holding you the way I always held you, and pull both of us closer. It’s a hotel bar, so nobody would mind or even notice. But I know you’re waiting for something. You’re looking for something, which you don’t know if you’ve found. Just like when you went away a year ago. You wanted to find something which you felt you had to find. Looking into your unblinking eyes with mine, I don’t know how successful you were.”
They looked into each other’s eyes. It was only for a few second to the world before he moved. But to them, it was a year full of things they didn’t get to tell each other, and questions about so many things in that year.
“I don’t know why, but this feels only a bit right. Not fully. In the moment, I want to approach you. But the points after the moment scare me. What I set out to do one year ago, did I achieve it? Even if I did, would we end up like old times, or maybe worse? Or maybe even better. It feels as though the entire world is revolving at highs speeds and the path to you is the only one stationary. As though only I, me walking to you and you are the only things which make sense.”
“You’re halfway there and my heartbeat has gone haywire. Your eyes are full of doubts, I know that, but there is newfound grace and confidence with it. I guess you were successful. And as you come closer, I can feel the change in you. Have I changed in the previous year in a way which can be felt by you? But before I can see you feeling it, you put your arm around my waist and pull me closer, look into my eyes, and then we kiss.”
They kissed in the hotel bar. Since it was a hotel bar, nobody noticed. It had been less than a minute since they saw each other again, but the way they looked at each other and kissed, you couldn’t have known. They stopped for a moment and looked into each other’s eyes. There was a smile on both their faces. For a moment there, it felt serene to view them as the only people in the universe who mattered. He was an inch taller than her. He had both his arms around her waist, her waist close to his. She bent her back a bit, falling in his arms, her arms around his shoulders, both of them looking into each other’s eyes.
She brought her face to his and kissed him again for a second before she broke her hand off his shoulder and clutched his right palm with her left and led the way, grabbing her purse on the way with her left.
“I wish the Earth turned slowly when I’m with you. That way I can be with you longer, and make up for all the moments I wasn’t with you.”
“I can’t tell you how much I’ve thought of this moment in my head. All the words I want to tell you, while pulling you closer in the backseat of my car. Just like always.”
It was almost a year to this day when he left. When he woke up in his house in the morning; his head hurting from thinking too much in his sleep. He felt something amiss. Something he couldn’t quite put a finger on. As though a bad thing which happened but couldn’t remember. He pressed hard, but couldn’t come up with anything.
He threw himself back on his bed and searched his contact list to call up a friend. Then it dawned on him: All his friends, including his girlfriend had changed so much. There were all doing something they loved. A passion which engulfed them entirely. They seemed so complete. Happy in a way which he didn’t know, but wanted to.
In front of that, he felt hollow. As though he didn’t do anything in life worth doing wasting it all away in moments he could barely remember.
He got up, walked around his room and decided he had to do something. Prove to himself, something he had to find, which the universe hid conveniently from him and he never bothered seeking either.
He left a note at her door and went away, to somewhere. That was the last he was seen by anybody who knew him; till an accidental meeting in a hotel bar.
“I still remember that note of yours. Now when I look back at it, I usually laugh. You quoted Linkin Park lyrics. You wrote such an important piece of English and you quoted Linkin Park.”
“Hahahahahaha. It wasn’t funny. It was meant to be poignant. I told you to forget the wrong that I’d done; and to everyone, to forgive me, hopefully. Because I had to do this.”
“It felt weird even then, but we were too outraged to notice.”
“I’m nodding my head at all of you in disapproval. They were words from my hear which you all deemed stupid.”
“It was funny. It still is. I know that look on your face, you know it’s funny too. Do you want to read it?”
“You still have it?”
“Yup. Right here, under the backseat. I always keep it with me. It feels right.”
There was only their car in the dark parking lot, the backseat lights on; them reading and talking and laughing, hand in hand, pulling each other closer, looking at the car roof as though it didn’t exist ad they were looking at the sky, their fantasies playing out there, knowing it was the right thing which happened.
I wrote this piece after a burst of inspiration by the new Closer/Kabira mash up followed a dose of Leave out all the Rest by LP!
Yes yes the title is a complete rip-off of Linkin Park’s Album title, but this is the album that inspired me into writing this piece. Like i’ve said, I am a huge Linkin Park fan!
It was fifteen minutes to midnight, and as usual, I was leaning against the same old tree which is eternally young at the same old spot which never seems to grow old.
And as the wind became faster and colder, I tool out my cigarette and lit it up. The same old habit that has never left. Funny, eh?
The city, filled with skyscrapers, building of weird design, with people living in the past, worried about the future and missing the present, with companies using electrical billboards to tell us to save electricity. Funny, eh?
Every day the same old monotonous routine, same old hustle and bustle, the same old boring people with no change whatsoever. But then again, I’m not so different, coming here night after night.
It is this spot, up on the hills, putting me far away from civilization, the concrete jungle.
Everyday plays out about the same, wake up, do stuff, go to work, come back, do more stuff and then come here to take a smoke and escape reality, then go back and let the river flow without disturbance.
Every day I see the same cars and the same people, going to work or coming back or partying or murdering or assaulting and I wonder, do they never like a change? Do they also never see me? Don’t they ever notice a pair of white soulless eyes glaring right into them?
It was still a few minutes to midnight when my cigarette finished and about time for me to move away and fit back into my place in the space time continuum without interfering with the natural order of things. And I put on my white cloak and floated away, looking twenty-four hours into the future, not surprised at what was in store for me.