(Continued from Part 1…)
Standing at the side of the doorway and often looking from behind the curtain, I often found Ratan-babu in those moments, eyes closed, back straight and head slightly tilted; the expression on his face seemed to tell me that he was straining his ears to catch every note and sound emitted by the piano, as his deft fingers danced along the long keyboard panel! What a sight it was: not really one visibly appreciable as Ratan-babu was far from handsome! But it was a picture of a musician in trance, recognizing every note that came out: it often seemed that in those moments the piano was playing to its master!
I had often wondered that for someone to catch the correctness of the notes, their pitch and tenor, the chords on all octaves, one certainly needed to have a fantastic sense of music and a very sharp ear apart from the technical knowledge of the piano. When I had stepped into my teens and the piano had started intriguing me further, I had one day asked my father about it, as Ratan-babu kept working in our drawing room. In reply, what I heard from my father was a surprising and inspiring tale indeed!
“Ratan-babu is a gifted man.” my father began, “He holds a great passion of music and his technical knowledge of musical instruments, especially the piano, is deep and sound. I don’t really know where he came from or about his back-ground. I only know that he came from a very poor family and came into this city totally alone in search of a job to make his future. He used to work for a printing press for a long time and used to frequent a theatre house which was situated right next to his workplace. There he used to sit and watch the actors practising and slowly started making rapport with them. But what drew him into it were the musical elements of their plays.
Now, this theatre house had some musical instruments housed with them and gradually Ratan-babu got attracted to them. Fascinated as he was especially with the piano there, he sought and was allowed permission to sit and watch the pianist play, during the shows and even during the practice times. I think it was over the years that this pianist from the theatre house taught Ratan-babu how to play the piano and the technicalities of the instrument. You can say, it was musical knowledge handed down, just as it used to be in earlier times.
Ratan-babu, despite his restricted means never lost his fascination for music and his silent dream of becoming a musician someday! But, in those times, it was considered luxury and certainly not within Ratan-babu’s means. Undeterred, his love for music and hidden talent helped him to learn and grasp more and more. That is how his life moved on for years together, until one day the printing press where he worked for so long, shut shop forever. You may wonder what a calamity that would have meant for someone like Ratan-babu, whose livelihood totally depended on the monthly earnings from the press. Yes, he was quite broken and faced a lot of hardships but began his search for a new means of livelihood once again, and as he had once told me, ‘music was still foremost in my mind’!
So how does Ratan-babu live his dream of becoming the pianist he always wanted to be? Read the third and final part of the story to know about his journey…
The Technical Pianist – Part 3, coming soon right here!
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