The Pianist

Motherhood is tricky business. You constantly walk the fine line between second guessing and gambling all that you know on a whim, on an urge, on an instinct. It is mostly unchartered territory – defined by the struggles and
heartaches not mentioned in any of the parenting books you will ever read. You find your way as you go along; you are not allowed to stop because a small hand is holding your hand with faith even as as you wait to take the next faltering step.

Miss A asks me to join her as she practices her piano. “Do you want to hold up my music sheets for me?” she asks. I oblige and assist albiet with some trepidation. It is like being pushed on stage for an elaborate dance and I am terrified
of missing the beat or not moving along quickly enough with the tune. She plays song after song flawlessly; my eyes may not be trained to read the music but my ears recogize a melody when they hear one.
The songs are getting harder – Miss A knits her brow in fierce concentration even as her tiny hands scale the keys. She pushes an errant strand of hair away and inches closer to the keys,scanning the sheets of music before her. She hasnt missed a beat, she is still firmly on track, commanding the old keyboard to churns music like a well rehearsed magic act.

As she ends with a flourish, I clap loudly and give her a friendly thump on her back. “You dont do that when a pianist is on stage”, she informs me even as she struggles to escape from my bear hug. She settles down with a piece of paper and a pen and I presume she is done with her music practice for the day. She stops me as I am about to get up and a piece of paper with music notations is thrust in my hands.

“I write my own music”, I am informed. “I first write a song and then I set music to it”, she astounds me further.

There are moments when you suddenly realise that there are areas in your child’s heart that are alien to you. While you were kissing grazed knees, making up songs to sing in the bath and stocking up on fairytales, your child
has ventured out alone,crossing the boundaries of make-believe into a real and more immediate world where things like songs and music and harmony are now tangible creations of her own – not just mere gifts handed down from you to her.

She waits patiently, first on one foot and then the other as I try to take it all in. As I finish reading the last line, she tugs at me sleeve,”Can you help me change the tune for the last line – it needs to be more ‘rock and roll’ish, I think? Please?”.

I struggle with the notes for a while even as she tries to explain the difference between a tempo and a pronto. This is completely out of my league, and I have no suggestions and no words of advice to offer to her. And yet, the eager and cheerful face next to mine urges me to keep trying.

I manage to read her notes after much effort, and finally see the pattern emerging. By the time I come up with a passable suggestion, the piano stands sullen because she has moved on to other things As I put the music sheets away, I am suddenly my mother –  the woman who went through my Electronics Circuits books to ensure that she understood what I was studying. Who made notes of the ICs I needed for my lab experiments and who went to
the electronics shop to buy them for me and learnt how to test them so that I could carry on working uninterrupted. I dont have her patience, her selflessness or her untiring enthusiasm for every hour of life but, on a basic level my mother and I – we are the same.

Motherhood comes with a guarantee that you don’t have to have a road-map for roads not taken before.The fact that your child wants to walk down that path is more than enough. You take the first step, if you struggle and end up lost, you take the next step with more caution and more courage till your eyes can see the road. And if there is no road at all, you keep walking till your footsteps can chart out a path that those walking with you can follow.

Miss A, there will be times when I won’t have the words for your songs or the notes for your tunes. When the only music you can make will have to come from within. There will be times when all your music will stand silent and glum – on such days and till they pass, Miss A, I promise to be your audience,  I promise to clap and cheer for you from the dim hallows of the auditorium.

This much I vow – you will always be assured of an encore with me – for in your notes I find myself…


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Captain Nemo
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 19:31:27

    I am tongue tied. I have nothing to write which can express the awe I feel at her talent and your articulation of thoughts.
    (one minor typo – should be auditoriums / auditoria instead of auditor)


  2. scarlettletters
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 09:17:39

    Thanks Captain 🙂 You are very kind.
    I did fix the typo – wonder where that came from. It was auditorium in my draft..anyway 🙂



  3. Rajavel
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 15:51:03

    add a seversl more Os to my tooo in the last comment ! Write music eh? Awesome


  4. Tharini
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 04:25:56

    Wow! Amazed at her abilities and yours. To write as simply and magically as you do. Every post is a work of art!


  5. scarlettletters
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 08:57:34

    Rajavel – thanks 🙂

    Tharini – So happy to see you here. Thank you for your kind words.


  6. Aria
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 22:09:35

    this post was music itself .. you do write music .. : )


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