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Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Piano Boy


 
 
Play this song before you read!
"The saddest thing about a masterpiece is that it often portrays the deepest emotion and thought of the master but never quite understood it and when interpret them, it is either too late or misinterpreted, like Chinese whispers."
 
 
I met this brain child, five years old, sitting upright with awkwardly accurate bent elbows but graceful fingers dancing around on the ivories. His eyes were closed and his lips twitched occasionally as if mumbling a mantra. He was playing a piece so beautifully written that each key hammered into the depths of my heart.
 
I waited till he had finished playing. He would slowly open his eyes and breathe. He turned and stared at me, waiting for my reply.
 
"Wonderful!" I nodded as I touched his scalp of thin hair. "Who wrote this?"
 
"Me," he forced out a smile. His blue eyes locked into mine. Eerie but deep.
 
"Amazing!" I couldn't think of any better answer. I had to stop scaring him at each exclamation. "You know, I wrote a piece when I was eight and I thought I was already a genius."
 
He chuckled, either in disapproval or in amusement. I didn't know which.
 
"You want to hear it?" I asked.
 
He nodded rigorously, like a child being offered with a big lollipop.
 
I moved to the piano seat, and he carefully sat on one edge. "It's OK," I said. I wrapped my hands around him and hugged him closer. "I want you to hear it nicely. I want you to feel what I feel. I want you to see the moon and the stars hovering above the lake as little glowing fairies dance with the petals of a cherry blossom."
 
He stared at me.
 
I began, with a soft E note an octave above the middle C and entered into the key of A minor. For me A minor is blue and melancholy with a little sense of hope and joy. It's beautiful. The tune echoed around the room and he stared at my fingers closely, as if my fingers were making the music rather than the keys.
 
I finished with a pianissimo ritardando A note two octaves above middle C, accompanied by a slight Tierce di Picardi, to show the last ray of moonlight casting on the grey mountains before being clouded over again.
 
He clapped. "It's nice, Mr Wavericky. I like the birds soar and the white cottage near the alley!"
 
I grinned, his picture was not too far off the mark. "You can see it?"
 
"I feel it, Mr Wavericky. It's pretty but fragile, like a thin mosaic glass on the verge of falling."
 
"Genius!" I exclaimed. I reminded myself not to scare him with my booming voice again.
 
"Three C sharps are used in your piece, mister. Did you wish for hope much often?" he asked, looking at me. "C sharps in A minor are rare but exotic when used in appropriate places."
 
It's my turn to stare at him. How did this five-year-old boy talk like a professor? I fumbled for an answer. "I guessed so. My mom was seriously ill at that time. I wished for her recovery."
 
"What illness?"
 
"I don't know. Something to do with heart. Infection, I think."
 
"Did she - "
 
"No, she didn't," I breathed, held my tears. I am a man who never cries. I reminded myself this.
 
"I'm sorry," he looked down.
 
I tipped his chin. "It's OK. So, tell me what's your song is about. It's too beautiful that it clouds my perception and heart."
 
"It's a C major song. The chord goes from C, to A minor, then G, then back to C again, E minor, going to D minor chord before going to B diminished chord, but I think I sharpened the F in that. With a few random chromatic notes, I transposed it to G major, then to the seventh chord of it, and to B minor, A minor and to F major. There was a long two bars of A minor and B minor and ended with a imperfect chord of D major."
 
"Hefty chunks," I nodded.
 
"It supposed to mean something."
 
"Such as?"
 
"I thought you could feel it," he slammed down the piano cover and left.
 
*
 
The next day, he died peacefully in his sleep. The cancer couldn't be stopped. It anchored into his mind, rewired them into a genius pianist. I wanted to cry, but I told myself again I am the man who never cries.
 
His song entitled Sky was played on his funeral. He had no father or mother. He was raised in an orphan house. His interest on piano and music brought me to him by his superintendent. Nobody attended his funeral, that was sad enough. But at the very last minute, his superintendent came to see him one last time.
 
"Charming boy, he was," she wept.
 
"He is," I corrected softly, staring at the pale cheeks of the boy in the coffin.
 
I held back my tears.
 
*
 
I remembered the song. It hammered into me. I rewrote the piece again. At first I didn't notice anything about the chord progressions.
 
Till then, when I found out...
 
I cried.
 
Very bitterly.
 

 

 
 


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