It resided in a corner as it collected dust and spider webs. I could almost hear it cry every time I walked by. I ignored the creaks and squeaks that came from my piano. I remembered the notes used to weep every time I played them. The notes cried music, harmonies, and melodies with pain.
Playing piano used to be a chore. I hated playing it every time. I believed that when my parents signed me up with a piano teacher that it was so that they could brag about my skills instead of learning it for fun.
They used to call me downstairs, “Vatche, play us a song!”
Every time I heard that call, I would yell back, “I’m busy!”
My piano teacher, Saheed Dehimi, was blind and in love with music. He couldn’t see the keys in front of him, but he knew them well. He knew the keys for their sounds and not for their locations. He would immediately call out and tell me which note I pressed wrong without seeing my finger placed on the key.
Because he was blind, I would guide him along by placing his hand over mine. He would feel my anger, my resentment, through the pressure of my fingertips on the white and black notes.
“Why do you hit the keys so hard? Are you playing with your fingers or a hammer?”
I would tell him that I was sorry and tried controlling my hatred towards every note that was pressed throughout the session.
After eight years, I eventually quit because of homework and grades kept getting in the way.
After a few weeks, I started hearing the cries.
After a few months, I heard the music playing in my mind. The music that wanted to be played. It wanted to played on that piano.
I walked over to the instrument and struck a key, not with force, but with passion. It resonated a sound that brought back memories. These memories had no hate, anger, and force. The memories that drifted back had a mixture of happiness, passion, and nostalgia.
I sat on the piano bench, drew back the red covers of the black piano, and struck another familiar note. The memory only grew stronger. I remembered with every note, the memories of working hard to perfect beats and timing. One note after the other, seismic quakes occurred in my mind. I realized all the memories I had deep within, not only in my mind but also in my fingertips.
I played a piece I couldn’t remember until I saw the keys again. It’s strange how the hands can remember things that the mind could not.
Stopping suddenly, I opened the piano bench and inside it I found sheet music. I realized that it wasn’t trash anymore or useless papers, but a treasure chest filled with lovely jewels.
I laid out the sheets of music and read the piece. No thought involved, my hands took control and followed my eyes. I did not pound on the keys anymore, but lightly touched them, caressed them, with my fingertips.
As I played, I began to whistle and blow the dust collected on the piano into the air. The air was not only filled with dust, but also music that flew high and into people’s ears. Let them remember, what I remember: the happiness, the joy, and the nostalgia of the whispering notes.
If I could now answer my teacher’s question, “Why do you hit the keys so hard?”
I would stare at his closed eyes and big smile; I would tell him, “I play with my heart. Whatever I feel is reflected on these keys, whether it’s anger or happiness, resentment or joy. The piano is a mirror to my soul.”
I no longer heard the piano cry. I heard it sing like my soul.