December 22, 2015
The stillness of the atmosphere was disturbed only by the ringing of the church bells. The wind seemed to have taken the hint and started blowing in pleasant whispers. As the initial waves from the bell-fry ebbed, he could hear that divine hymn….
Silent night…Holy night
It was the most ancient and most beautiful church in that town, known for its choir. And the chords of the violin…just soothing. His fingers tingled with a familiar feeling. Warmth ran up his old and shrunken nerves, his world became alive…his world of music.
Those who knew him knew him only by this name. It fitted him like a glove. It was not his fame that had made him to be recognized by this title. He was not at all famous. He was just a simple violin master who knew his chords, chords of life. This was his recognition, his identity, and his entity.
He ran his finger on his chin. It was smooth; he just had a shave and a hot-towel treatment that evening. The aftershave lotion still lingered.
He smiled to himself.
The suit he wore was of old but clean and crisp. The laundry man had done a good annual job on it.
He ran his fingers through his hair, it was thinning and gray.
Age, the formidable enemy.
How many more years? Five? Six?
One lovely, chilly Christmas night like this he will not be there. The world will be short of one violin master. He was not scared; he had lived a full life.
He was sitting on the verandah of a small shop; a group of well-dressed youngsters was there too but with a different motive. They were looking at him every now and then and laughing, mockingly. Oh, this old man too…they must be saying…
But this old man was there with a divine intention. He had sat there, every Christmas night, year after year. Till the service started in the church. He ruminated on his past and this past paraded in front of him as silent proofs to his full life.
Just ten minutes back Cliffy and Queenie had passed him on their way to the church. Queenie learnt violin from him. She was a simple girl, beautiful. Five years ago her one and only brother had died. Broken, she came to him for solace although there was no dearth of tear-jerkers in her family. His words and music complemented each other and delivered a soothing balm to any soul, happy or doleful. And now, Queenie had married Cliffy. He did know Cliffy at all but yet, soon after the wedding, both of them had paid him a visit. He choked on his own emotions.
And this little angel, Maria. He saw her going to the church holding on to her mother’s hand. Her Dad was a step behind. One and only child of this rich couple. His student. Maria was naughty as well as stubborn. It was customary for her mother to give a glass of soft drink to the violin master after the lesson; but Maria got hers before. She did not like this. She insisted that the Master be given the soft drink right at the beginning. And she won. This meant nothing to him personally but he did not go against her wish. He could see magnanimity blooming in this household and did not want it to be nipped in the bud. At her age he did not know what a soft drink tasted like. He had just seen this colored drink in restaurants and on the tables of the rich. Those days had now past and he had no regrets.
And it was Sandhya and Arun that passed him and went towards the church. Arun was looking so trim and handsome. They were holding hands and walking in their own world of happiness. Sandhya was an epitome of gracefulness. They both learnt music under him and he was the first to know of their love affair. He was instrumental in passing their letters to and fro and when they got engaged, tears of joy ran down his cheeks.
A young girl in a green dress.
His heart felt a painful twist when he saw her. He too had a daughter. Sara. She loved green dresses. Two years ago Sara had come to him asking for a green dress. He had no money with him. Sara’s eyes filled with tears but she did not say a word. He took her by the hand and they stood under the wide-open sky. “Look at the stars, Sara,” he said pointing to the heavens. “They are all of different colors and brilliance. But these qualities are God given, not chosen by them. We too have colors and brilliance, our own. It is the quality to love and be loved by others. Let this color not change.” Sara stopped sobbing and hugged the violin master.
Sara got married last year. She and her husband had come home for Christmas. As he was stepping of the house that evening he heard Sara’s husband say to her. “At least this time, I wanted to buy you a green sari…your Dad told me green is your favorite color…”
Sara must have smiled sweetly, the Violin Master thought to himself. “My love,” she must have said. “Understand me and love me. This is all I want…” The violin Master had wiped his own tears.
And then there was this unfortunate man, Jeffrey. His friend. He saw him walking towards him. A rich aristocrat at one time, Jeffrey had lost everything. His wife, wealth, children. In this condition and by sheer chance, Jeffrey met the Violin Master. He consoled Jeffrey not in words but with his music. He took him home and played for him the song and the tune…whatever will be, will be…
From that day on words, Jeffrey was his regular visitor and he played the same tune for him, day after day.
“Shall we?” asked Jeffrey who was now standing in front of him. The Violin Master rose with a deep sigh and they entered the church together.
“Silent night…Holy night…”
Why but why this hymn finds a place in the world only at Xmas? The Violin Master asked himself. Is not every night a Holy one? Why only a night, every second, minute, hour, day…are they not all Holy? Is the world on the brink of total destruction? Why do we say, only at Christmas, Peace to Men of Goodwill?
Has not the Peace of Christ dominated in this world for the last two thousand years?
He knew the answers. The world is not bad but the good in it had been scattered. The good needed a clarion call every year to come together. The days will come, he told himself, and the days will come.
This was his night of Peace and venerable silence.
He believed and he was happy.
It was his Christmas!
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