The Voiceless Piano

In that old crumbled building amid debris and heaps of dry leaves stood an awkward piano. The walls had caved in and pieces of them stood like naked people, grinning bricks and paintlessness. Ivy had lustily twined herself against these structures. Rain fell on her parched leaves making them gasp for breath. Rain ruthlessly pelted the walls or what remained of them. The piano tried to remain graceful despite its awful circumstances. The piano had grown in with the surroundings. Moss camouflaged the remnants of its sheen or the memories of it.Rust had found a new friend in the piano. Rust like a lover kissed the nooks and crannies of the piano not knowing of the songs it was killing. The piano did not complain anymore. In the beginning it had.

Fair young ladies and men in dinner jackets graced the wide rooms and corridors of Mayflower Hall. Exquisite chandeliers, silverware and the jewels that gleamed at the pigeon bosoms of opulent ladies, proclaimed the untold wealth of the occupants of the Hall. Expensive vintage moistened the lips of young ladies, fragrant with kisses from their not-so-young husbands. Elegant skirts trimmed with flimsy layers of muslin and lace, chapeaux with long quills from exotic birds, ornate tuxedoes and velvet jackets, perfumes and priceless embellishments adorned the wealthy guests. A mild, young woman of charming grace moved across the room smiling sweetly at all those who were present. Her dimples and deep blue eyes added brilliance to her attractive countenance. After a curtsey to the ladies and the gentlemen, she placed herself at the pianoforte and began playing. Eager onlookers gathered around her as her nimble fingers moved across the piano keys. She played Beethoven’s Für Elise with sonorous style and dexterity that seemed beyond her age and experience. The piano beamed and sang out loud. It cooed and hummed and shrilled. Its deep and ringing melody captured every heart in the room. The piano was grateful to the young lady. At other times it had endured wrong hands use it in the most inappropriate ways.

A deep silent sigh stifled under the piano’s hood longed to emerge. Life had been beautiful until the most devastating of wars had begun in those parts. With the invasion of the enemies and political bureaucrats selling their territory to the aliens across dinner tables, the inhabitants of Mayflower Hall had made the most urgent evacuation of the premises. Heavy furniture had been loaded into huge wagons.These were carted across bumpy dirt roads in the countryside. Large trunks containing valuables such as silverware, paintings, jewelry, books and other priceless pieces were shipped off under careful supervision. The piano had posed a problem in transportation with its stature and structure. Disassembling it would mean a delay of an hour of wait and employing a couple of men to it with precision and care. In those troubled times, every minute in those parts increased the peril to life and property. Waiting for the piano would mean danger to life. The entire household left Mayflower Hall with a heavy heart full of anxiety and sorrow. The piano was abandoned.

The piano longed for slender fingers to play upon its keys producing the most enchanting of sounds. As wind wandered through its creaky wood, the piano whispered to the deaf walls. It seemed to be sighing for a glimmer of hope. Someone in the distance who would come to revive the aeons of dormant music in it. The piano had absolutely no doubts about the glorious sounds it would produce after years of silence. It wanted to shriek out loud expunging all its suppressed agony. After this shriek, it wanted to sing a mellifluous song in a low voice. It would then begin with a wanton song, alternating with rhythm and tempo, build up to a loud crescendo followed by applause. The piano smiled a weak smile at this thought. Then fear crept in. What if it died with all its unspoken songs suffocated within. What if some lightning struck through the open skies. It remembered the loudest of sounds that had come once earlier. Canon shots had reduced the hall to its current state of dilapidation and ruins. The piano had trembled to its strings.

One dry morning, the sky was cornflower blue. The piano listened intently to the distant sounds of some footsteps running on dry leaves. There were some children who had come into the ruins of Mayflower Hall. They seemed to be exploring the place. The piano waited with bated breath. If only they would notice its raised hood and come running to it. Then they would play a few keys. They are perhaps not the best of players yet the piano longed to shriek out loud once before it could think of any civility or professionalism. The children did not seem to be keen on this part of the house with its caved-in walls and ivy. Yet one child noticed something of interest. She called out to her friends yet all of them were busy going through other parts of the house. She decided to walk towards the piano herself. Yet it seemed to be a bad idea. The walls seemed dangerous. The few bricks that remained like an arch could fall any moment. The girl went towards the piano. The piano felt the presence of someone close to it. It had been ages.

The girl pressed a key hard. A forte. The loud piano boomed with all its life gathered up in that one note. It was jarring. The girl pressed another key. It seemed to be silent. Almost every key after that was silent including the first one. There were no sounds except for the chirping of birds on the old oak tree and the footsteps of the other children. The piano quivered. Something inside had broken. Rust embraced the keystrings tight. With a heave of wind, the voiceless piano murmured and fell into wakeless sleep.

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