When the Past Echoes - contd
by Astha Sabyasachi
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He was not good at giving up.
So, he kept on going to Amar’s place. The love he fell into was now into him, his veins. He also met the violin man. He still doesn't know what to call him - a teacher, a guru, a friend, Amar’s uncle, a stranger, some God. No name was appropriate. Sometimes they aren’t. Let’s not name and belittle him. Let him be a feeling strong enough to wet the old man’s eyes even today.
He was someone who made Ratan blow the seven colorful syllables and paint infinite rainbows of music. The old man still remembers his first and only violin. Maybe it’s true. True love happens only once. Who knows?
The violin man gave him his own violin – the one on which Ratan learnt music.
He said, “Touching strings the right way can make you not only create the music but also feel it. Just listening to music doesn't even count. Creating one is also not that big a deal. The most important part is to feel it. Only a few understand this. And a fewer achieve this. I want you to always feel the strings the way you feel them right now. You should keep this violin.”
Those were the most musical lines of old man’s life.
The irony. That morning, his father’s noise reminded him of the best music he had ever heard. Perhaps, only darkness can highlight the light. The light itself cannot.
After every meal, he was fed with the same noisy medicine. In tough times like these, sharing glances with his violin helped a lot. Sometimes the violin accompanied him like a best friend. And sometimes teased him like a sibling. It was both a companion and a tranquilizer. The noon somehow passed. He was desperately waiting for his favorite evenings. Actually, he was waiting in his “home” to go to his home. He didn’t himself realize that he had smiled while his father was giving him a piece of his mind. A slap woke him up from his daydreaming. Then it didn’t stop. Not until his forehead bled when he was banged against the wall. It struck him that his reality is ugly. Very, very ugly.
The evening slipped in but this time with the music of both freedom and relief. He picked up his violin and went into the woods. It was an ugly evening. But the rain was beautiful. So was the freedom. The orchestra was waiting for him. He sat under the tree and played for hours until his fingers got rashes, until his eyes dried up from crying. Million thoughts knocked his mind and many entered it - His sister, who was left with just one adjective that she was a child-widow. It was what described her and only it was what defined her. He had always seen her silent, submissive and unexpressive. As if she was hiding something- some feeling, some person or even herself. Nobody knew. Nobody tried to know. And also about his “brother” who hasn’t yet reached this world. But everyone knew that he was a “he” – because that's how you call it. Otherwise the baby becomes jinxed and hence the mishap - the birth of a girl.
With a billion dark thoughts, a million tough questions and a single
heavy heart to deal with them he left.
BUT he didn't cry while leaving. He didn't want to break this custom- a little and the only beautiful ritual in his life. Also, he didn't say goodbye to his fellow musicians. There is nothing good in saying a bye. He didn't look back. His heart was already heavy. He couldn’t take more. He had to travel long. He had to take all the memories along.
That night he went back into THE REALITY forever. The reality everyone wanted for him. He realized that the distance between dreams and reality is actually very long. And it got even longer when he had to take those few steps to the corner of his living room and leave his violin there.
After that, it was all real. It was “his” reality. The reality served to him.
And this old man is finding it really difficult to deal with this reality for the past 50 years.
Suddenly, the door opens with a squeaking sound.
“Grandpa, you know what I heard today?”
“What, my darling?”
“So many birds (she spread her little hands as far as she could) singing and dance. It was a lovely MUSIC.”
The old man hears the noisiest and the most deafening silence. He hears the silence of what he has lost.
He goes limping with his stick into his store. He goes through the dust which feels like all the years he lost. And finally finds his first love - the violin man’s violin - his only violin.
He comes out coughing with his clothes covered with dust and cobwebs of his past. He carefully keeps the violin on the table and pulls his handkerchief out of his pocket. Tears are continuously rolling down his cheeks. These are the debt he had to pay because he chose not to cry that night while saying bye. Teardrops are falling on the violin and spreading like the oceans of music. It took over his soul and he is once again soaked in love. He once again fell in love with the first love of his life. Perhaps this time he will rise in love. He is cleaning the violin with those tears. The granddaughter is wondering what suddenly happened to grandpa. Is he afraid of birds?
He goes to the balcony and asks her little granddaughter to join him. Just as the sun rays fall on the violin. It sparkles and so does the old man’s eyes. He remembered the most beautiful music of his life- the violin man’s words. He felt the strings and started playing. His granddaughter cheered and jumped in happiness.
His son and daughter-in-law enter. They are surprised to see that they have a violin in their home. They stand there gawking on the door and are smiling to see their daughter dancing. Today she is proud of her grandpa. The old man looked up at the sky. He may have missed saying bye. But with the blink of his eyes, he says hello to his fellow musicians who might be somewhere in the skies. He thanks them for finding him and for helping him find himself.
Just as our story walks beside us, so does the rhythms from our past. They always try to find us. Or perhaps, we keep searching for them - because they still echo in our dreams. ***