Tuesday, January 31, 2017

So kiss me, and say that you will understand

From reading his stories I know it happened quite by chance, when he accompanied a friend to some concert, and sat there, raising his eyes from the second row, and there she was, up on stage, aglow in a sphere of light. 
His heart started fluttering inside. It pounded so hard that he thought he would pass out, which was fine by him, because he considered himself, at that moment, kissed by luck. 
One could not wish any better than to die a happy man. 
In his eyes, she was the most beautiful girl in the world—not only because of the hazy glare of the spotlight, through which he saw her rosy blush, the long, slender arms, and the glitzy black dress, but because of the heavenly, harmonious music, which she made reverberate in the air, all around her.

To me you are beautiful,
To me you have grace,
To me you are everything in the world.

For the longest time, my old man sits there, utterly motionless, in the midst of bells being shaken and bongos being beaten by unsteady hands. Only the top of his head, gripped tightly in his fingers, is visible to me between this sagged shoulder and that, in the back of the crowd. 
And it is not until the end of the song—when everyone sitting in the divide between him and me has joined in an intoxicated, disorderly chorus, singing loudly, I've tried to explain, bei mir bist du schoen—that the next line makes his hands fall, suddenly, into his lap. 

I've tried to explain, bei mir bist du schoen,
So kiss me, and say that you will understand.

It is at that phrase, and say that you will understand, that I see him wincing. Having sensed, somehow, the weight of my gaze, his jaw clenches. My father turns his head abruptly, to pull himself back from view—but not before I realize, to my complete shock, that he is awash in tears.

Ben in The White Piano


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