We'd bounce our heads to Michael Jackson's songs as we admired the artwork on his CD covers. "Look at the pyramid with the eye in the middle...I think he's part of a cult!" said Ali, one of Jackson's most avid fans. He knew all his songs and went to every concert he could afford. This was in Australia.
When I moved back to Pakistan in 1995 as a teenager I was surprised to see how prevalent Jackson was here. He was as ubiquitous as Coca Cola. Everyone knew his songs, and even a popular Pakistani comedy show called 50/50 had Billy Jean playing during a scene where its protagonist robbed a house. Kids, including my brother, constantly imitated the moonwalk, and though most failed you'd find a few success stories.
Having lived in seven different countries, including Pakistan, I have seen the various forms of Jackson's stardom across the world. Most see him as a global star that transcended boundaries. In Pakistan he was the definition of 'cool,' with his black shoes, pants, tilting hat, signature white gloves and the ever-ready pelvic thrust. I remember a family wedding video where a cousin was showing off his Michael Jackson moves. At the end, he received a standing ovation from the crowd as he performed his finale with a dramatic pelvic thrust.
Since Jackson's death, the youth in Pakistan have felt his loss. At a concert I went to last night with a number of upcoming young bands, the crowd screamed every time someone performed a Michael Jackson cover. When Natasha Ejaz, a young talented singer, sang "Stranger in Moscow" the crowd cheered. The song served as a therapeutic balm for those that remembered Jackson's genius - a man who was part of everyone's childhood here.
While the audience waited for the next act, the crowd started singing an impromptu version of "They Don't Care About Us" in unison. I overheard a few people saying that the world had lost an icon. The torrent of Michael Jackson related Facebook status messages immediately following his death confirmed just that. The day after his death the radio played all his songs and people called in to talk about how Jackson had changed their lives.
"If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change. MJ", my Facebook status read. An old friend wrote "So corny, Nosheen. But I have a soft spot for MJ too. I'll let it slide...."
And who knows, maybe Michael Jackson's death will have the media and his harshest critics say that about a man, who by default, was part of everyone's life.
This is part of HuffPost's Spotlight On Pakistan. Eyes & Ears and HuffPost World are building a network of people living in Pakistan who can help us understand what is happening there. These individuals will send us reports -- either snippets of information or full-length stories -- about how the political crisis affects life in Pakistan. This is an opportunity to have a continued conversation with Americans about what's happening in your country. If you would like to participate, please sign up here.