Eternal serenade

April 6, 2009
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“Memories may shatter…dreams may fly away…but the power of music will always stay…”

Midnight was fast crawling through the midnight curtain as a pianist played a soothing sonata with so much perfection and imposing beauty that you’d stop right on your tracks. The music seemed so alive that it seemed to blend in with everything around it; the stars, the trees discreetly whispering in hushed tones to each other, and the bright moon watching over everything that its soft glow could reach…

As the sonata came to its heart-warming yet pulse-stopping halt, the pianist smiled at me, with a voice as sweet as the music her fingers produced every time she touched the ebony black and ivory white keys…

“Are you alright, Tonio? Did I wake you up?”

Genevieve had always been the favorite in our clan. She had looks, a taste in arts and had an outstanding eye and ear for music. Most of the time, people would watch her play with so much blissful emotion while I was left practicing boring scales and mundane etudes that were way beyond my level.

I never really ever hated her…she was my sister, and I was her brother. But whenever she played, there was always a tinge of jealousy in my mind; “How does she play like that? What’s the secret to that kind of playing?” I sometimes thought. That’s why I dedicated my life to music unlike any normal boy my age…I was in search of “the perfect sound”. Yet every time I thought of becoming famous or beyond what any of the members of my clan accomplished, there was deep, agonizingly painful hole in the pit of my heart...

”No matter how much you’ll try, you’ll never get past Genevieve! You’re just bluffing yourself--trying to prove something you know you can never do...you’re only scarring your own soul just to assure yourself that you have a purpose in this world—a purpose you forced yourself to believe that it was destined to be yours!” a voice often told me every time I would try to go beyond my limits. Most of the time, I would listen to it…I’d put down the music score, close the piano and just watch the weather change by the window. During those times I’d listen to that voice, I’d hate myself even more…

For ten straight years since I was four years old, Genevieve would never cease to play the piano for hours and hours until midnight. That was when the air was at its coldest and the atmosphere at its calmest. But one night, there was no one playing the piano. I waited in the piano bench, watching the stars twinkle and the trees rustle. While I waited, I began fiddling with the keys and playing a calming song that my sister taught me when I was little.

To my surprise, everything seemed clearer for a while…the frustration and ache in my heart suddenly disappeared for a while…only to be replaced by a tranquil, heart-spun song that rang in my disbelieving ears, “I didn’t know I could play as good as this…well, whatever magic that’s in this piano at night seems to be working…” I mused. By the time the song was coming to its halt, my eyelids became heavy and my heart’s weight became lighter…contentment was brimming in my chest…probably, if I wasn’t that sleepy, my body would have burst with joy, knowing that maybe…just possibly maybe…I had found what I was looking for…

“So this is what Genevieve feels after a performance…”

“Tonio…Tonio…wake up kuya!” a shrill voice pierced my heavy sleep…

It was Rosine, my seven-year-old little sister. Usually, she would be seen skipping around and annoying everyone. But today, tears were brimming up in her big bright eyes, it took a while for me to understand her words but when I did, I felt like crying with her too…

“Kuya…Ate Genevieve’s gone…she left this in my room…”



Rosine…this is your Ate Genevieve…I won’t be here for a long time. Someday I’ll come back. Please tell this to Mama…I hope she’ll understand. Be a good girl and don’t annoy other people too much. Ate loves you very much. Love, Genevieve

My heart sank through a deep pit. Genevieve was gone…gone like my gratitude to her…And although the letter said she’d come back, something in my heart told me that she’d never come back again. I didn’t notice that tears were already falling down my cheeks until Rosine sat down with me in the piano bench and started patting me on the back while crying on my shoulder.

Never again would my midnights be colored with the music I yearned for and envied…the music I stayed for even when the biting cold was practically paralyzing my whole body…no, never again…

Two years had passed since Genevieve left. I was sick of playing the piano…too tired to carry on. All I wanted to do was to carry on with my own life and never touch another key again. For whenever I even tried to go near a piano, I could hear her hauntingly beautiful music resonate through my ears…the sound was just too painful for me to ever listen to until my life ended…

But one day, just when I couldn’t even take hearing another song that would remind me of my sister…something happened.

At one party, I was surprisingly called by my Mother to perform for the guests…

“Come on, Tonio…you’ve been playing since you were a child…don’t tell me you’ve forgotten how to…it’s in your heart and in the blood pumping in it,” my Mother urged.

I stepped toward the piano and sat down. Flexing my cold, numb fingers, I began playing what I played the night when Genevieve ran away. I played just like I did before…although there was something different about how I played…it wasn’t as warm as my sister’s playing, yet it was just as beautiful…

A few seconds pause after the song finished. Then, I heard a roar of applause that I had never heard given to me in m entire life. I grinned broadly while bowing…

I had found “the perfect sound”… my sound…

That night, I sat down at the piano chair doing nothing but stare at my surroundings. It was a beautiful night like no other. I looked back at the big, round moon and smiled. My heart was filled with the same contentment I first experienced during that fateful night. And with that, my eyes were filled once again with stardust…knowing that today’s applause wouldn’t be the last…

And now, as I look at this crowd I am faced with to entertain today with what my soul speaks through my fingers, I look back at those days when an audience like this was just once a far-fetched dream that was buried in the depths of my soul…

“It surely wasn’t the last audience…and it’s all thanks to you, Genevieve…”

And with that, I flex my fingers…listen to what my soul is saying…and play…





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