Friday, April 9, 2010

The Pianist

The Pianist

Her hands were not small, but they were graceful as they carefully picked out a difficult piece in A minor on the grand piano.

“How can you play here? Out in public, and in this heat?” I asked incredulously.

She looked up at me, unsurprised at my sudden appearance at her side although she had every right to be. “The sound is very clear- piano wood is very strong, and doesn’t get easily warped by heat if you treat it well. Though humidity can cause issues, over time.”

I waved my hands in a skeptical gesture through the soupy air of the busy marketplace. “And all the people, and animals, and noise?”

She paused her playing for a moment. “I practice where I can. I can’t play at home, and here at least I make a few pennies.”

The tattered grey newsboy’s cap was full of more than a few coins. She was an extremely good musician, after all. Even here, where most of the people could hardly afford to support their families, she was making some decent amounts of change.

“So how long are you going to stand out here and watch me?” she said, stopping again.

“Do you want me to go away?” I said.

“No, I don’t care,” she said, and her supreme unconcern bothered me more than if she had tried to kick me out. But I suspected she was aware of that.

“Then I’ll stay. But I don’t have much time, so it won’t be for long,” I said, attempting to sound like a busy man on whose schedule she was a mere blip.

“That’s nice,” she said absently, resuming the movements of her fingers I had interrupted with my conversation. I closed my mouth against a retort.

She really was very good, even in a busy marketplace. I was starting to unwind enough to enjoy her music when suddenly she stopped again.

“How is your wife?”