Mak­ing sweet mu­sic..!

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Robert Ciements —Email: bob­s­ban­ter@gmail.com

CAN’T we stay with your cousin? I asked my friend Roque while vis­it­ing Por­tu­gal and as I looked at the cold, drab room where I was sup­posed to stay in Lis­bon. “We can’t trou­ble her Bob, she’s got can­cer!” said Roque. “Will we be see­ing her?”

“I don’t know whether we will,” he said as the door­bell rang and I opened it to see a mid­dle aged lady stand­ing out­side with a small bag. I watched as Roque ran to her and hugged his cousin and we chat­ted through the evening. “She brought this for us!” he said af­ter she left. “For us?” I asked. “For us to have now!” We opened the bag; it was stuffed with sweets and good­ies of ev­ery type. There were slabs of cho­co­lates, peanut sand­wiches and pas­tries. It had been packed with love and af­fec­tion and sud­denly I felt the cold dis­mal room grow warm with the thought­ful­ness and kind­ness of a car­ing woman.

With misty eyes my thoughts drifted to a scene, an­other time, an­other place: A con­cert vi­o­lin­ist was per­form­ing a dif­fi­cult piece in front of a large au­di­ence.

Sud­denly there was a loud snap that re­ver­ber­ated through­out the au­di­to­rium. The au­di­ence im­me­di­ately knew a string had bro­ken and ex­pected the con­cert to be sus­pended un­til an­other string, or in­stru­ment, was brought to the mu­si­cian. But in­stead, the vi­o­lin­ist com­posed him­self, closed his eyes and sig­naled the con­duc­tor to go on. The orches­tra re­sumed where they had left off and now the mu­si­cian played the mu­sic on three strings! In his mind he worked out new fin­ger­ing to com­pen­sate for the miss­ing string. A work that few peo­ple can play well on four strings; the vi­o­lin­ist with the bro­ken string played on three.

When he fin­ished, an awe­some si­lence hung in the room. And then as one, the crowd rose to their feet and cheered wildly.

The vi­o­lin­ist smiled and wiped the per­spi­ra­tion from his brow. When si­lence re­turned to the great room, he turned to the au­di­ence and said, “Some­times it is the artist’s task to find out how much mu­sic we can still make with what we have left!”

I looked at the bag of sweets that warmed the room, “You say she has can­cer?” I asked and I shook my head to hide my tears: I thought of many of us who who’ve maybe lived most of our lives and we have only a lit­tle time left. Can we still make mu­sic? Or many with dis­ease that has robbed us of our ca­pac­ity to work; can we still make mu­sic?

Some among us who have suf­fered fi­nan­cial loss that has left us im­pov­er­ished. Can we still make mu­sic? And oth­ers with a mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ship that has ended and we feel alone in the world. Can we still make mu­sic?

And in far off Por­tu­gal a bas­ket­ful of food breathed sweet fra­grance as it an­nounced to a once cold room now warm and beau­ti­ful, “You can make sweet mu­sic with what­ever you have left..!”

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