The post I wish I hadn't had to write
Being in Dhaka for an FK Partnership meeting provided me with a chance to spend time with Ragni, now at her first job (at Drik) after graduation. Except for the two meeting days, for which I moved into the hotel where the event was held, I am living in a room next to her, provided to me courtesy Pathshala. The post I'd planned to write was going to be gossipy and funny ... but that will have to wait, now. For almost 4 days I have watched Ragni bravely handle the suspense of her college friend, Dora Magrath, missing from her home. Dora and Ragni had lived in the same house at Hampshire College and were good friends.
I do not want to be a product. I do not want to sell my pretty face to sell a record. I want to play my music, to be a constant student, to live my life the way I want. And if that means that I need to have a day job, and maybe a high-paying night job a couple nights a week, then so be it. I’m tired of seeing every musician turn themselves into a product, into something smooth and glossy that everyone will automatically “love.” I don’t want to smooth out the rough edges, I don’t want to make myself into something or some one that moves with the tide. I want to own one wave, own the bubbles and the rough edges and the swooshing of that one wave and know that I move with it, move like it, because I wish, not because I can gain the whole ocean from it.I found a CD of hers on a website. Downloadable ... but through PayPal, a sevice not accessible from here. Among her musical influences, she'd cited my favourite jazz singer of all time: Billie Holiday. Yes, I thought. Dora would ... Once again I logged on to Steve Huff's Dora Magrath page for updates, more links, and another run of the Amazing Grace video, which I downloaded to play for Ragni when she wakes up. At midnite, just as I was considering going to sleep, Ragni woke up. She logged on to search again, without luck. After all, I'd searched only moments ago. And, quite suddenly, there it was: Dora was dead! Dead! An awfully difficult word to speak or write about a 22-year-old. A little kid about whom, only a couple of days ago, I had read this:
Dora Magrath has a superpower. No, she can’t shoot deathrays from her eyes or lead North Korea. She has the ability of making everything disappear around you when she starts singing. This singer-songwriter sounds like a Regina Spektor fed with jazz records. Her amazing voice barely covered by a shy piano just gives me shivers.It was good that I was with Ragni ... although I am sure I could offer her no real consolation. But loneliness would have made it much worse for her, I guess. It's been over 2 hours since we read the news of Dora's death. While I sit and write this, Ragni is visiting all her old web spaces and talking to friends and reliving those wonderful days and memories of Dora. My mind goes back to the loss of a friend, through suicide, when I was just 16 ... and I realize how inexplicable and confusing life must seem to my daughter. Dora, I wish I had met you in person. Yet, strangely, you now seem much more than just a collection of photographs and videos and a beautiful voice to me. R.I.P., child!