Pathik In memoriam

Pathik Jude Pillay 3.4.2002 – 13.5.2022

A Tribute by Simmi Pillay

Stuck on YOU, Pathik

The three songs by Pathik Pillay which have been released to date, KatherineScenes from a Film and Indie Girl are testimony to the tragic loss of a major emerging talent at the very start of his career. In true blues tradition, Pathik’s music embodies those enigmatic feelings that connect people, while at the same time his creative sensibility and musicianship make it hard to believe that Pathik was only twenty when he lost his battle with a rare form of brain cancer in May 2022.

In what follows, Pathik’s mother, Simmi who has been instrumental in getting Pathik’s music published, shares her memories of his life:

Pathik was my only child, born on that auspicious 3rd day of April in 2002 at Linksfield Maternity clinic in a family room where my music playlist looped over and over again.

At St James Preparatory he was lovingly nicknamed “Genius” because he was already reading at four years old, and his friends thought he knew more than the teachers. He had an encyclopaedic memory for all things he loved, like marine life, dinosaurs, earth-moving machinery, the Marvel World, outer space, world history, aircrafts and politics. Home was always abuzz with Pathik sharing his various passions with friends. His search for knowledge was coupled with his profound interpretation of, and deep connection with the world around him. Pathik also had a beautiful capacity to bring people together, he loved deeply and it was reciprocated.

Once Pathik’s love for playing the guitar sparked, there was no end to his vast exploration of musical genres or his dedication to making music every day. His influences included but not limited to the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Django Reinhardt, Rory Gallagher, Nirvana, Tame Impala, and Jimi Hendrix.

Throughout this period Pathik was gently and thoughtfully guided and nurtured by the Pretoria-based musician, Illimar Neitz, who became both a profound mentor and a dear friend to Pathik. The immense generosity and kindness that Neitz brought to his role as teacher and collaborator has now been applied to the mastering and publication of a selection of Pathik’s music.

Pathik was in his matric year (Grade 12) at Michael Mount Warldorf, about to start his final exams when he lost coordination on his right side. After several tests and scans, he was finally diagnosed with Gliomatosis Cerebri, a rare and incurable form of brain cancer in May of 2021. The prognosis was poor. We were told any day now.

No mother should live through this, I kept a brave face and cried in parking lots where he couldn’t see. Pathik turned his attention to music, his meditation playlist, family and friends. His friends visited him regularly. He looked forward to his visits from Khalo every Sunday, where they played games and watched movies. On his restless nights, he would put his head on my chest and fall asleep.

On that Thursday, when he drifted into a deep sleep after Khalo’s last visit where they shared music, I whispered in his ear that there was a magical place on the other side where he could be free and it was ok to go there. The next day Pathik slipped away peacefully surrounded by family. We laid his ashes to rest in the ocean with the ashes of his cat, Cuddles.

He left a clear directive to share his music with the world posthumously. This is his legacy where we celebrate Pathik. He lives on in our hearts, my greatest love, and through the beautiful music he made.

Pathik A remembrance by Illimar Neitz

I remember it as if it were yesterday: December 2017 – Simmi and her 15 year old son, Pathik, arriving at my studio, he armed with a beautiful green Fender acoustic guitar. From day one Pathik had a profound impact on me and it would be the beginning of a most special relationship.

What first struck me was his detailed approach to music, not only his excellent taste but his attention to tones, arrangement, light and shade and song structure. Clearly he was born with this gift. I saw myself again as a teenager in Pathik. Music at the centre of our universe – an escape from worldly problems.

The four years which followed are filled with wonderful memories. Music aside, I’ll always remember his kind heart and gentle demeanour. How he shared some of his teenager frustrations with me and how we had a similar outlook on things. Pathik was a great observer – an excellent quality for a songwriter to have. And that is exactly what he became.

Many days spent in his presence stand out. One such day was the first time Pathik played in the S.A Blues Society Project Band. He joined us at the Tweefontein Melkery for our annual event and wrote a beautiful school essay about this experience. When I asked him what the topic for his assignment was, he answered “A day which changed my life forever”. This meant the world to me. I remember Pathik sitting next to the stage before we played and writing lyrics in his songbook. If we inspired him that day, then we accomplished our mission.

Pathik continued writing songs and Saturday mornings recording sessions at my studio in Pretoria soon became routine. A session drummer was booked for one such Saturday. She could not believe that it was Pathik at his young age who wrote such beautiful music.

Recording and teaching Pathik was and will remain a highlight of my career. If you are lucky, someone as special as Pathik enters your life. I will carry him forever in my heart.

Listen to Pathik’s music

2 thoughts on “Pathik In memoriam”

  1. This is a beauftiful poignant narrative of a legacy to be honoured and cherished. While i survived my cancer diagnosed on 9 May 2020 with my operation doen today on 13 May 2020 four years later I am gravitated to Pathik and his journey. I was so sorry for the loss of his life at such a youn age BUT Take so much courage in your bravery Simmi. May God comfort and bless you always. Blessings and more blessings as the music plays on much Love

  2. Thandeka Mxenge

    This is both beautiful and sad. What a young man! He had accomplished so much! Thank you Simmi for sharing the memory of your son with us. Your strategic parenting is inspiring and may the Lord heal your beautiful heart.

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