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A Performance To Cherish

A Performance To Cherish

10 mins 408 10 mins 408

“So dad, were you not saying something the other day to your friend?”- asked Stuart.

I was standing on my bed, dusting the dust off the shelves. The room was stuffy and I had not noticed when Stuart had made his way in the room and blurted out a random question of which I clearly had no idea what the context was.

“Which day, which friend, what thing?” I questioned. I had this habit of using too many interrogative words lined up in quick succession to each other and I fancied this manner of speech. I wonder if you’ve already begun to think how silly I am. Unapologetically, I choose to continue.

Stuart said, “Don’t you remember dad! Grandpa Red was here that day. And the both of you sat at the drawing room for hours talking deliriously. And there were occasional outbursts of laughter and seriousness alternatively.”

Redmayne Harris was somebody I knew since stepping into adulthood. Early twenties maybe. He was a musician, a gifted pianist among a possessor of several other talents. There were times when I would reach out to him to satisfy my musical queries. On a whim, I had decided to ask him to come visit me because I had something on my mind that I wanted him to be aware of. I believe I owed it to him to let him know.

At once I remembered what Stuart was referring to. I shot a questionable glance at him.

“Were you eavesdropping by any means, Stuart?” I asked furtively.

“No dad, I brought sandwiches and juice to both of you. I was pretty surprised when I saw you giggling and making a futile attempt at discussion with Grandpa Red. Sometimes your yes and no made their way into my room. Well, for one, I’ve never seen you talk with such profuse excitement for it was written all over your face,” said Stuart.

I paused for a moment. In retrospect, I indeed may have given out loud responses and hearing my son speak about them affirmed that adulthood didn’t quite fix the balances of silence (or loudness) for that matter in me. Well, he had caught me off guard and I think telling him the little episode that I shared with Red wouldn’t do any harm.

“Do you listen to music son?” I asked.

“Oh you mean the pop, rock, blues, metal, that or Paginini, Mozart, Pachelbel, etc stuff. If by any chance you’re talking of violin music, I have not. And how does it relate to what I have asked you,” he asked, with all the seriousness that he could muster in him. He was dying to get an answer out of me and I could sense that.

“Stuart, before I begin, rest assured that this is a tale of music and of the people who are associated with it. Yes, you do have Mozart composing from the heavens on one hand and Dylan on the other horizon freeing humanity with his voice while Slash guitars all the way to the other realm. But today, we’re going to talk of a certain somebody whom I knew in person. I know, it isn’t as great as knowing the people whose names I have just taken but you can think of a certain exclusivity that’s here.

In other words, not many people knew that person for her fame wasn’t anywhere near as wide as theirs.

And among this vast populace, I was one of the few that knew her enough to form an opinion of her.

We were, to put it officially, event organizers for a college fest. We were in charge of the performances and to ensure that things do smoothly within the time-frame of two hours that we had to wrap it up within. The events comprised solely of dancing and singing. We had begun preparing and auditioning, charting and drafting our schedule. To work with the whole bunch of them was difficult. After all, we had several participants from first through fourth year and I was never a leader really, or an organizer, in this context. Ah, those days! Takes me right back to college! The memories are real. I even had a video compiled of the pictures we had taken on the final day of practice at her home when we went for a rehearsal.”

At this point Stuart raised his hand slowly. I knew what this habit stood for. A question had come up in Stuart’s mind but I hadn’t even begun about the central crux of what I had to discuss with Redmayne.

“What is it, little one?” – I asked

“So, you’re trying to say that you called Grandpa Red over to just discuss the weeks of planning and plotting, essentially of your first time ever at organizing something?”- Stuart asked quizzically.

“Ah! No Stuart! This was only the introduction. Bear with me” – I said as I found Stuart already half-convinced that my tale was going to be of no use to him.

I resumed, “You know Stuart, that....” I paused momentarily. “Before we go any further, Stu, do you know which song it was that I had practiced the maximum times on my violin to get the fingerings and the vibrato correct?”

“My heart will go on!” he said nonchalantly. He added, “Your youtube history from 2017 has only pages and pages of tutorials from various youtubers for that song,”

I smiled wearily. It was indeed my favourite song to practice. I resumed, “Yes it is. And I am going to tell you how it made me incredibly happy. That happiness resembled the same emotion that I saw on the faces of performers in a concert after they left the stage with the audience blasting in applause.”

Stuart’s reaction began to change. “Did you deliver a mind blowing performance?” he asked.

“Not really,” said I. “It was a great performance though. It was a duet, I should tell you. And the fact of the matter is that our performance came in right at the end of everything. It felt so much like a guest performance to be very honest”. I chuckled at myself knowing myself fully well and being aware of the fame-crazy tendencies that I possess. “If I remember correct, the last performers had already finished their performance when the emcee had come up to me to confirm that it was the end of the line-up which was when I broke the surprise to him. I said that there was to be another performance and we needed the synthesizer to be up there where it was. The other instruments could stay too. Although they could clutter up the space but I think two people who had to remain stationary throughout could be handled well. My time was going to come and for a split second, I felt a wave of hesitation pass over me. And then it happened. I saw my co-conspirator. Oh did I say that? I mean, my other organizer friend had stepped in draped in black, inspiring beauty if not confidence. I did play the violin but the thought of going up there with the violin with limited years of practice was quite a scary thought. But there she was, poised, steadfast in her gait, confidence brimming on her face as if this was something out and about for her.

While playing the very celebrated “My heart will go on”, we had decided to let the piano begin with the chords into which the violin would then appear. The harsh truth remained that the piano could do chords which the violin couldn’t even do more than a margin of 10 percent, maybe. The composition, scale, tempo and the related musical aspects were determined only two days before.

And the tubes went off and the yellow lights came on. I was not expecting this. More like, I did not like the turn of events. This moment was beginning to take the shape of the videos which I used to watch so profusely. The sole reason was that the people in the videos who performed under similar ambience were of a far greater calibre and had years of practice to back them up. It was as if they were meant to justify such an ambience. And where was I?

However, with an uncanny ease, this tension lifted itself away the moment I heard a key go off in the synthesizer. She had the mode set it to a grand piano and even though it wasn’t one, I found myself easing. She began effortlessly and gave me an easy cue and that was when I began.

I knew the notes of the song by heart. It was not much of a problem for me to play. We had decided to keep it on the D scale since it was the easiest in my opinion to handle the violin. She adapted readily. Descending and ascending through the notes, her fingers bounced ever so gracefully through the keys making the necessary glissandos and crescendos while I tried to make certain that I would hit the notes on the scale in which the song was being played. Hitting a wrong note was least of what I had wanted.

Halfway through the song, I began to feel good about it all. Allow me to begin with the most trivial of things. The costumes we had put on. Oh dear! I was never one for dressing up much but the occasion demanded so and I donned a black tuxedo by Bregeo along with a pair of shiny Bata black formal shoes. She was wrapped up in a gorgeous black maxi dress. The lights highlighted every bit of the ambience. Yellow-fluorescent lamps hanging by the ceiling spread at moderate distance from each other. The crowd, which had automatically quietened down after the performance before us. I could not help but bet inevitably that it was us administering this quieting yet magical effect into the audience. And of course, the piano and the violin coming together in concord to weave out what the famed Celine Dion did alone with her voice.

When the act came to an end marked by the last key off the synthesizer that she held a tad bit long for the sound to linger, the sound lasted for another second before the audience broke into a loud cheer.”

I took a moment and looked at Stuart before continuing. He was listening intently.

He asked, “Then?”

“Well, that was it. The performance was over and it left me with absolute good memories to fall back on. The part of the surprise was that nobody was aware that an instrumental performance was to take place. Of course, nobody in the audience had to know. What I meant was that an instrumental performance is a rare kind in cultural fests when you compare them to singing or dancing. Haha. I think the surprise was well received. But we did forget one thing and that was to take photos thereafter. But I don’t think the photos would have come off all that well with sweat dripping all around us,” which I added as an afterthought.

“Wow! You must have had one crazy fame-full evening, hadn’t you?” asked Stuart with a smile on his face.

Fame-full. There was no such word in the English dictionary but I wondered about the word. He wasn’t much wrong in conveying the exact emotion. But he stopped my train of thought and asked me suddenly, “So what did Grandpa Red have to say in all this?”

“Oh Red was always a mentor-like figure to me. When I had told him of the time of this fest, he had scolded me since I (along with the rest of the team) had been giving too much time to the preparation for this whereas I should have had been thinking about the semester exams which were only two weeks away from the day of the fest.”

“Yes, from whatever you said dad, you really did get involved crazily,” Stuart sighed. “But, Grandpa Red must have been glad to know that you were able to perform to your heart’s content.”

“Yes son. That was there although that was a part of the reason but not in its entirety why I had called him over. You see Stuart, dads are really amazing people. Not every dad though but some dads really are. They worry over their kids and they’ve been doing that since time immemorial. They always want to be aware of what’s happening to their kids, good or bad. When something memorable -in the likes of what I told you- occurs, I think an elucidation with a breakdown of events helps the best, really, and I think Redmayne goes home today a very satisfied and happy dad.”

Stuart exclaimed, “Wait a minute! Redmayne being a dad! Oh no, you’re insinuating that Redmayne is the father of,”

I cut him off. “Hold right there son. I am not insinuating anything. I think learning new words without their appropriate usage has brought you to this state. Yes, Redmayne is in fact, her father. Like father, like daughter and music to bind them together.”

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