An Obituary: Chester Bennington (1976-2017)
Picture an Indian-middle-class thirteen-year-old boy, seeing for the first time on TV: a live music performance, the biggest he has ever in his life, with so many flashing lights, a stage the size of his house, millions of people around shouting their lungs off and a band executing their music prowess with extraordinary elan. He decided to do whatever it may, to find who this colossal vocalist is and who this humongously talented band is.
In 2006, when a live performance of the song “Papercut” aired on MTV India, I was left open-mouthed. The powerhouse of a vocal-rap performance by Chester and Mike had me staring and flabbergasted. This was my introduction to the music of Linkin Park. To be honest, it was my introduction to secular English music in general. LP songs are my roots. I wanted to be them, live them, sing them and play them all of a sudden. There have been very less days that this band has not been a part of my method. It’s something that goes on till today: my LP routine. Following them song by song, album after album and YouTube video after YouTube video has been my substantial reason to show them my love for them even though they don’t see it. As they grew, evolving as musicians, making chart-topping music, selling out stadiums across the world, winning countless awards and making millions of multi-lingual, multi-genre fans, I grew with them. My choices, my musical style and my opinion evolved too. Chester Bennington’s words were my words; his actions, my behavior; his angst, my lifestyle. He was family. He was me.
“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me, and when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory and leave out all the rest.”
When I got the news that Chester passed away, I thought it was dream: something so phantasmagoric to be even grasped. I had been following their tour in Europe and was looking forward to the one in North America. Linkin Park’s last show in Birmingham was one of Chester’s best ever, in one of the most superior setlists that the band has ever come up with. The fact that he is no more in this world makes me mourn. It makes me mourn for him and his life of supreme vehemence. I mourn for his music, which has defined me in ways that he wouldn’t have thought of. I mourn for his passion, something that I learnt from, the vigour to come back and stand up back on my feet spreading love to fellow world citizens no matter how much of a bungle our own life is. I mourn for his intensity, the one that won the hearts of thousands of people all around the world and helped them to fight their demons even when he couldn’t fight his own. I mourn for his family, his bandmates and friends who he was the superstar of. My heart bleeds for Talinda, his six children, for Mike, Joe, Brad, Dave and Rob. I mourn for myself, who dint get to see him once. I’ll live the rest of my life with the hurt, that I have officially lost the essence of my teenage. It will be a constant pain to even think that there won’t be a Linkin Park any more with the same line-up of those six boys from Agoura Hills who followed their dreams and took the whole music industry into their hands for eighteen years. Nothing will be the same anymore.
Dear Chester, I’m sorry. You had your family, five bandmates, their families, a lot of friends and millions of people who would do just anything to meet you and talk to you. but when you really needed someone to talk to when you were tired, exhausted and down to your last, there was not one person who you thought would make a conversation with you and tell you that your life is precious and worth living. If I could go back in time and I knew that something is awry, I would have come right there in LA, and told you that suicide is not the only option. I would’ve told you that there is a solution to everything and that your life’s purpose wouldn’t be realized if you end it. I would’ve convinced you that you are a beautiful soul, a spirit too invaluable to voluntarily wipe out. I’m sorry you had nobody. I’m sorry that I failed you Chester. The police didn’t find any note in the room where you were found hanging from the door, but then it struck me that your last album One More Light was one long suicide note. But it’s just too late now!
“Stared into this illusion for answers yet to come,
I chose a false solution, but nobody proved me wrong
Head-first hallucination, I wanna fall wide awake!
Watch the ground giving way now.
Been searching somewhere out there
For what’s been missing right here
So tell me it’s alright
Tell me I’m forgiven
But nobody can save me now.”
I wish I could save you Chester. I really do.