I heard the sounds come in. It was one I had heard before. I had danced to it severally. There were those of my friends and recently, the very last of my sisters. It reminded me of all those days, when we were little. It was like the rain dropping. I had always been fascinated by that too – tap, tap, tap. It was a sound that had kept me company many times. The music now had come to me to be like that. Music playing, twisting through and through – the sol-fa notes on and on. I was now a music connoisseur and I could tell all the sounds individually. I could tell even where the voices came mechanised or harmonised with some instrument or machine.
I was that good.
Music had come to define every life experience for me. It was always either one song or the other – they were mostly beautiful especially
those from the other sides, the other rooms. They were the blistering songs of the dance rooms where recklessness hit the floor as couples danced at first meets, the freeness of casual relationships energising their bones in abandon. The dances were often but many times, devoted. There grew the different types of music, mainly that of the ballroom, many times of two hearts flowing step by step in many styles – tangos and simple waltz, they were always perfect when it stayed two. Sometimes, it moved differently and usually seized with the intrusion of a third partner. Yes, I knew all the songs and I knew the dances. I had been there.
You made most of it. I remember your genesis. Of course, I am a music connoisseur and I could tell the future from sound. But let us not lose track. You. Yes, you. Your voice was sure the last thing to hold me or anyone. Your behaviour was something out from some vagabond place. You were in every sense of the word, unbred – and I didn’t think it would be through to all the meanings of the word. I had placed you in the composition where you belonged – a tuneless song. You were rough and all but it didn’t mean you didn’t have brains. You were one of those silently brilliant ones.
Well, we had come to be acquaintances and I took it you weren’t too bad a person. Rough and gruff but okay. I noticed the moves and started building us a concert – just a duo. It was the 12th of February, two days to the day of the acknowledged anniversary of the music of special hearts. The lonely winds were all that were going to play for me that time. It took me by surprise when you said those words, out of nowhere…
‘What would you say if I asked you out?’
There was noise everywhere but I answered immediately without thinking it over: ‘Yes. Okay.’ In that second, I thought of how to change your chords and make you fall into tune. I looked you in that second and discovered it would take so much work but I would try. In that very second, I thought all these and a new song started to play. It was one I had heard in the lives of many. It was finally going to be mine. Then, you blurted as immediate as my answer:
‘I was joking.’
The song went flat – cut. Reflex? I simply changed the song back to the one that was playing before. I ignored the many people around who must have heard you shatter the melody that had started building for me. Those who would see me in a whole new light of wrong. You couldn’t have known at that time but I had built a concert in that second for you, the concert had started from the time we became acquaintances.
It really was reflex, as you pointed out later but you don’t just cancel a concert in session, or one about to be started, one created – argghhh! Whatever. You don’t just do it and expect to have everything come back together in one breath. No.
You made many more moves, becoming a far better musician than I ever thought. I smiled at the efforts but never let it get to me till the big bangs of graduation came our way. You had taught me in that instant action that one had to be patient to let the other know the right sets of notes to make it work. In love, there was no one hit wonder. You had to take time. All the way up to the wider world, you never stopped. You kept practicing and it seemed the works kept getting better. The thrill finally hit the spot and I knew I could say ‘No’ no more. You had learnt through the plays, teases and all, even in my refusals, you had located the strings to my heart and now knew the exact chords – the way to play the tunes that were truly mine…
Happy New Year. May your hearts play tunes to leave you smiling through and through.
(Inspired by Gbubemi Pessu’s poem, ‘The Music from the other room’)