The Maestro – II

The curtains parted and the spotlight fell on a thin bearded man
hunched over a piano. The theater was packed to its capacity, with the
audience a potpourri of the city’s literati, the maestros, the
pseudo-intellects, and the wannabes. They had all heard about the
pianist and his music, discussed him at their social dos and read about
him in the papers.

They had come to witness his performance. For once everything else,
their parties, night outs had taken the backstage, to be overshadowed
by the ethereal splendour they would soon experience. They had come to
see a musical genius who would inspire them to step out of the realm of
pure existence and reach out for that tiny shred of brilliance that lay
within them all, unnurtured and unnoticed amidst all the chaos they had
planted around themselves. They had come to learn what they already
knew but didn’t acknowledge.

The hush in the auditorium was broken
with the first note of the pianist – loud, resonant and harsh,
proclaiming his arrival, mocking the intelligentsia seated in the front
rows with all its rawness, as he caressed the clavier. Would they now
believe that this was the same artist they had condemned to obscurity,
cast aside as a no-hoper, and labeled his avant-garde style as pure
chicanery? Yes they would, for now the pianist had been acclaimed
throughout the nation, showered by laurels from the government.

He
played like God. Notes flowed from his fingers and seeped into the
obedient keys of the piano, which seemed obligated to obey the genius.
An invisible but unbreakable cord appeared to exist between his magical
fingers and the ivory keys, each riff filling the theater with an
energy that had long been trapped beneath his superficial stoic
countenance. Each improvisation unleashed a tone they had never heard
before, tones that had been pregnant for years in the wilderness, spent
battling his own demons of despair and self-doubt, facing every barrage
of ridicule with a courage he feared would crumble any moment.

It
was the feeling of liberation, of true joy that had broken free of all
inhibitions. It was a paradox – rushing to enrapture those who listened
with a mesmeric captivation, yet rebuking the elite who stared
wide-eyed from the front rows.

He played on. The music graduated
into a fury fuelled by every note he keyed, consuming the pianist,
spurring him on. Its vigour filled the concert hall with a vibrance
that refused to be tempered or tamed, flowing wild with an unbridled
enthusiasm that augmented as he progressed through his performance.
When he reached the climax of his composition, the crescendo held the
listeners enthralled and invigorated.

While his fingers rested over
the keyboard, the spectators sat benumbed by the experience. Then a few
excruciatingly silent moments later, the auditorium rang out with the
loudest applause it had witnessed for years.

The virtuoso stood up from his stool, bowed to the audience and walked off the stage.

The
next day he was back in his apartment in the suburbs, listening to the
C-minor scale being played by a nervous but keen pupil.

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