Some say the '90s never ended; time simply flowed and ushered to a new millennium, and we are moving still. Perhaps, we shall never stop for that is one lesson time teaches to every generation.
Cobain touched a chord in us before signing the roll of the 27 Club. Death may have served him a career move, but he was not the first, and certainly shall not be the last. For our generation, only through death we survive in collective memory. At least that is how the cynic in me sees things.
The '90s was all about the rage against our inner demons rather than the collective one. The decade started with me as a tween and by the end I had grown up. In what feels like an epoch, our generation experienced as the world went through transformations, a Californication?
We tested an acrid reality even before comprehending that we were slaves, and only love could free us from bondage; it was our only true salvation.
Confusion, unruly expression, or explosive burst of sound that felt like noise (I was loving every bit of it) is not what I remember most about the songs of the '90s. Music evoked emotions back then, as it does today, but in those formative years, the frustrations of growing up seemed more real and more vivid. Like the yellow in Van Gogh paintings, there was something discomforting about life, which I was not prepared to accept.
I understood the words, but was completely oblivious to the effect songs had on me. 'Harmony', 'composition', 'melody', 'rhythm' —jargons tossed around at al-fresco guitar sessions but for me that was the end of it. They bore no meaning.
I was musically promiscuous, listening only to what was topping the charts and eventually bombarded on radio waves. If they were one-hit-wonders, I could not never tell.
Standing firmly in 2018 and looking back to two dozen summers that have passed, I now feel why those moments, those words still seem fresh in my mind; something that I feel belongs to me.
Now, was there anything special about the music of the nineties? Yes, absolutely! I can say with much conviction that we were probably the last generation with the privilege of having to listen to artists from myriad genres, without everyone sounding the same.
Back in those days that I remember as the golden summers of my life, nothing was guiding me or my life, but they were repeating what I was feeling. They were always telling my life, simply unfolding myriad facets of what seemed like 'life', and sowed love's seed in me.
Truth be told, it came unwarranted. As a nocturne who could neither sleep at night nor feel at ease with the sun shining bright, I walked around desolate streets of Dhaka with Marc Cohen playing in my mind.
I walked the streets and felt Memphis and Philadelphia were all the same. And slowly began to feel for a lifeless, uninhabitable city. My love for my city was an acquired taste, but love nevertheless.
In monsoon, it felt rain washed away the sorrows of my dead city, and greenery sprouting in what seemed like the grey I was drowning in. But then one fine day, everything changed. Forever.
I looked back at her sitting on the bench, and I have never looked back since. While I obsessively worshipped the brute, lifeless summer, at the end of the day, I could not resist the soft beams of the sparkling moon penetrate though the curtains that separated me from everything around me.
She was a face I had seen for countless years, but from that moment, she was…and perhaps she is…still.
She was not the first, but definitely an introduction to new forms of bizarre confusion, frustration, and unvented rage. She was me, and I were her —opposite sides of the same coin.
Suddenly, emotions that previously felt obscure, took shape and became real.
I was listening to the same Alanis and her blunt, wild outrage and finding new meanings in her words; Tuesday Night Music Club became my own, along came the question: Am I strong enough? Some sang about birds and being free enough to fly in the sky, no home and no soul. Liars!
It took me a while, and it was way beyond the nineties that I realised, we all need a home. A restless soul may want to roam free and we all do. But by the end of it, we need a nest to call our own. A hug, a calming voice, and that kiss to bring life to the grey!
I am today, as I was back then, bewildered by things that I cannot possibly comprehend. I know that there is a world out there that I can cannot possibly understand. All I have are clues left behind in words and moods, poetry and music, and colours in oil.
The nineties was a rollercoaster ride for all the experiences that I was experiencing every day and every night. Songwriters were writing poems and melody was just a by-product. And till this day, that is how I feel —words are provocative.
That was the nineties and eighteen summers have passed since. How will I see this day, this hour, minute and second two decades from now? I will let time decide, while I put Rimes on repeat for the umpteenth time.