Thursday, February 18, 2010

Music Medicine

Tonight, Nancy Lee Harper will play the piano (and not the harp).
She walks the stage in black, shimmering silver teasing my eyes like neon lights. Up above I see the patterns of a honeycomb. A thousand bees hum in the audience, as if they can read my mind. The Bosendorfer piano waits in silence and I let my gaze linger on the sardarji perched on the piano stool, testing the strings and playing the keys with a screwdriver in his hand. Ms. Harper might have taught at Juilliard but this, right here, is what India is all about. The spider breathes easy. It’s time to watch.
When her hands first touch the keys, a can of warm colours wash me down like a blanket. I find deep comfort in her milky white double chin. Surely, that’s where she hides her sweetness? Her black stockings and black heeled shoes beat clippety-clop along with the rhythm. It’s like she’s weaving a tapestry of melodies with her sewing machine. She romps about like a benevolent and majestic lioness gently spanking her cubs. In love with the piano, she gently cajoles it into opening up to her. The music reminds me of a kitten chasing a red ball of yarn. Frolicking around till it upsets a pitcher of milk. And I can see the milk trickling down the staircase.
When she comes to a piece by Fragoso, I feel like the black tongue of a river in high tide is lashing at the sides of a tunnel. It’s a seductive rhythm – one that makes you feel like a helpless child. There is a strange play of colours in the kaleidoscope. I find myself suddenly thinking of Russian fairy tales and faded illustrations of pompous princesses in the tale of Beauty and the Beast. Images that haven’t been anywhere near me in ages.
The spider sways and leaps to the near future.
Is this me in the kitchen, busy making tea? Whose footsteps are those? His hands encircle my waist as I feel his breath on my neck, willing me to turn ever so gently.
I listen, I see and I wonder: is she healing me or have I become more vulnerable because of what she’s done? She has poured hot, molten music over my heart and soul; she has torched my memories. There will be blood. There will be scars and burns. But underneath, the raw pink of a treasured yesterday brings the promise of a new tomorrow. Thanks for the renaissance, Nancy.

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