Piya Thakkar was one lucky fan who got to dance with Michael Jackson when he toured Mumbai in 1996 as part of his HIStory tour.
Only 15 years old then, Piya -- now 28 -- can remember the night vividly even today. She looks back in time, in an email interaction with rediff.com:
Tell us about that magical night. How did you get pulled up on stage?
I was in the front enclosure and had managed to squeeze my way to the front row.
A lot of fans fainted due to suffocation and dehydration, as the concert started late. Bodies were being passed to the front and people were being pulled out. Suddenly one of his tattooed crew members, who we had seen set up the stage while we were waiting for the concert to start, pulled me out of the crowd.
I was worried because I thought he pulled me out thinking I was suffocating, so I tried to let go. He carried me backstage and while we were on our way, he said, 'We have been observing the crowd. You seem like a big fan. I am going to give you the chance of your lifetime. I am going to put you on stage with him.'
I was elated and shocked at the same time. I was a big fan of MJ, and this was a dream come true. Pulling up fans on stage is customary for most concerts all over the world. It was a very special moment for me. I slow danced with him on You are not alone and he went down on his knee as part of the stage act and I was humbled!
It was one of the most special moments for me!
Did he say anything to you?
No, he didn't. He was completely engrossed in his performance. I didn't meet him backstage either.
After growing up, did you remain an MJ fan? Were your family members MJ's fans? How did you react to the controversies that dogged him?
I will always be a fan of MJ. I am a fan since I was about 10. My dad was a fan too.
I was appalled at the controversies and allegations related to child abuse. It's very sad how the media put him on a pedestal and then pulled him down suddenly. I've read a few books on him and so I would never believe such allegations.
Jackson was a great human being. I became a fan of him with Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad and Dangerous because I thought he was an outstanding performer/ singer/ dancer. But I was deeply touched with how he chose his fame and celebrity status to sing songs about world peace, helping the poor, saving the plant and ending racial discrimination.
I read books on him to find insights into his personality and became a bigger fan. Jackson was a great human being. He was very sensitive. He thrived on his passion for music and the adulation from his fans. He worked hard to outdo himself each time and he always did. He loved playing with kids and went out of his way to enrich the lives of children suffering from illnesses. Unfortunately, he was misunderstood . I believed and knew he was innocent. MJ was a child at heart and would run to the toy store every weekend. He even had a mini amusement park in his Neverland ranch.
Today, when you know that he is no more, what were your feelings?
I was shocked. It seems like a huge loss to the world and fans the world over. But I know he may have lived longer had he not led such a depressed existence ever since the allegations started. I just wish he hadn't been misunderstood and died with all the glory he truly deserved. He was trying to make a change when the accusations sent him into a hole. But I am thankful that at least today, when he is no more, the media is celebrating him and remembering him as the King of Pop and not throwing light on the allegations.
Michael is a legend and will always remain one. He was a great human being, and still lives in the hearts of his fans. No matter what, he will remain special to everyone in the world. It's a huge loss. There can never be anyone as special as him.