Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Violinist

As you know, we are still camping at the service apartment. Every morning, traders set up shop on the main road which runs parallel to the street on which the service apartment is. They wind up at around 2 in the afternoon, after which the municipal workers arrive with their big trucks and water hoses to clean up this stretch. This happens every single day.

At the junction on one end of this pavement is the Metro which was closed today, owing to a transport strike. So there were a lot of people on the street, more than you'd normally see, walking to their destinations. As I was walking along, stopping sporadically to look at the goods on sale in the makeshift market, I heard the strains of a violin. It was very refreshing midst the hustle and bustle, as was the scene today.

I walked further to see a man playing his violin at the entrance of the Metro station. I found a spot in the sun close to the performer and stood there to hear him play the most soulful pieces. His notes were a bit choppy at times, his fingers must have been frigid from the biting chill in the air. People walked by, eager to reach wherever it was they wanted to go. I had nowhere to go and I was thankful for that. He looked around while playing. He saw me and nodded as a particular piece was coming to an end. I nodded back and joined my hands as if to applaud. He accepted it, smiled and moved on to the next piece.

He had left the violin case open for people to drop in money. I got some change out to drop it in too. But I didn't know what to do. If I had been practicing my craft at a Metro station, I wouldn't have appreciated people dropping in only change, since that's the best they can come up with. The idea of me dropping change in the violin case seemed insensitive. I had a euro in my hand because that's at best what I can afford currently. But let's say I had more. Would a good amount have been two euros? Twenty? How do you measure the worth of that moment when I was his only audience and he, the best performer. How do you put a price to the morning we had.

I continued walking and about a half an hour later, when I was back at the same spot, the violinist was still there. I went to a cafe, ordered a cup of coffee, and obstructed from his view, sat down to listen to the rest of the performance. Unfortunately, there wasn't much left. He was done before I was done. He must have left the premise immediately for he wasn't there when I got up to leave.

It was a poignant moment. And as I look back on it, I am asking myself if I, too, would have ignored him had I been rushing to some place. I am afraid to say I don't know.


Aarti said...

Nice post Gargi! :)

The Yellow Wall said...

:) thanks...