Chester Bennington had really died, and the cause of his death was life itself
When it comes to Music, July 20, 2017, was a red-letter day. I was in my second semester. It was a Friday, and I had to tutor a student. I went to sleep early the previous night, and in the early hours of Friday night, I had gotten a call. I was in deep sleep, so I wasn’t really paying attention. But I will always remember the piercing voice that came through the phone.
Growing up, Linkin Park had been one of my favourite bands, and I still listen to some of their earlier works from time to time. And when one thinks of the band, one can’t help but imagine the image of one Chester Bennington. From his devastated screams in "Somewhere I Belong" to his melancholic pleading in "Numb", arguably, Chester had been the voice of our generation. And on that night, that voice ceased to exist. Even though I don’t remember a lot of what happened during that conversation, I remember those specific lines vividly; that Chester had died, that he had died by suicide.
Friday morning was like other mornings – drab, uneventful, colourless. I woke up at nine and went to the bathroom. I sat down for breakfast and began to scroll through my newsfeed. And that’s when it hit me. If the posts on my newsfeed were true, then the dream I had from the night before wasn’t a nightmare I was hoping it to be. Chester had really died, and the cause of his death was life itself.
Understandably, people were devastated by this. I was finding it hard to believe, and I was in a morose mood as well. But most importantly, I felt hollow. It was like something had been torn away from the very fabric of my soul, and the cold wind of the outer worlds was making its way to my core.
Still, life goes on. I went out, taught my student, hung out at the local tong, and came home. And for a lot of people, this is how they spent the day. The mourning and the sadness, well, that came late at night. I myself wrote a tribute piece for Chester, as a way to exercise the many memories and feelings that had been going on inside my head. But ultimately, I was dissatisfied. Words can only express so much. And when it comes to deciphering the darkest depths of the human condition, we can only do so much.
Since then, every year, I have always felt an urge to write something on his anniversary. And from the hundreds of tribute posts that have been filling my newsfeed since his death, I don’t think I am the only one. But each year, the number has been decreasing.
I guess it makes sense that we don’t mourn him like we used to. Our generation had been put on the conveyor belt since our birth. We had no freedom, no life. We weren’t allowed to grow into the people we were meant to be. Instead, we were treated like hamsters, where the only thing we were taught were to run on hamster wheels. But life isn’t like that. Life is far more complex. A formless, directionless void that would give even Ahab a run for his money. And in this way, I would say that the people who were moulded into the perfect output are the lucky ones. Life is hard, and finding one’s place is even harder. If people can be turned into the ‘perfect’ products for a place like this, then maybe it isn’t so bad.
But a lot of us couldn’t fit this mould. A lot of us discovered that everything we had been led to believe were lies, cheats, and deceit. And for people like that, Chester was a revelation, a patron saint for a generation of the lost. And when Chester died - - the voice we had gone to when the roaring emptiness in all of us were still in its infancy - - we realized that our childhood was over, and the feeling of emptiness just became a whole lot intense.
But somehow, some of us have made it to the other side. The storm was brutal, but somehow, we made it. I just wish I could say the same for everyone.
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality. The words of Shirley Jackson, not mine. But still, this applies for Chester Bennington. This applies for of our friends who are not here today; those friends that were a shoulder to cry on, those friends that felt like a noose was the only solution, the people that fell down the wayside all tried to make the world a better place. I just wish they didn’t have to try in the first place is all.
So, this is a toast, a letter to all that have been lost. Life had not been kind to you. I hope the same thing doesn’t repeat itself in the afterlife. And to the voice of a generation, rest in peace, Chester Charles Bennington. May you have found peace, wherever you are.