The Technical Pianist (Part 3) by Sayan Bhattacharya
(Continued from Part 2…)
His pianist ‘guru’ from the theatre house came to his help one day. Though he could not offer Ratan-babu any place within his group, he offered him day-jobs to visit the houses of people who had pianos and get to tune and service them. I am sure, this pianist would have had some contacts like these to help for some extra earnings and that is what he offered Ratan-babu, to start with. And you have already seen how much a piano need tuning and servicing to be maintained well. Ratan-babu’s life started anew and gradually his ship began to steady!” My father smiled at me, as we paused to listen to the soft tinkling notes of the piano which wafted in from our drawing room: Ratan-babu at work! I sat thinking in wonder over the story of this quiet lean and thin man whom I had been watching for years, striking away at the piano keys!
“Ever since, Ratan-babu has been busy going from one end of the city to the other, visiting many houses by appointment and ‘tuning’ innumerable pianos to play to the correct tune!” My father continued, but as if to now wind up this marvellous story.
“How and where did you find him?” I asked.
“I first saw him at my own piano teacher’s house. Ratan-babu used to come there to tune the piano and later when I got my own, I had no second thoughts in engaging him. And that is the way that his clientele grew…remember, it’s only word of mouth and references! And once you have seen the quality of his work, you wouldn’t hesitate to engage him again!” It clearly showed that my father was truly happy with Ratan-babu’s services.
“So, why doesn’t he play songs and ‘western classical pieces’ as you do?” I asked my father once again.
He smiled at me and answered, “We all have had formal music training for years and at playing the piano too, but Ratan-babu has learnt it out of his instincts and never had had the exposure to the sophisticated means that we had been privileged with. Moreover, if you listen to his music when he plays to ‘check’ the piano, you will see he does play wonderful ‘pieces’!”
My father looked into my inquisitive eyes and as if read the question behind them. He continued to unravel:
“Do you know what ‘pieces’ they are? They are the various short musicals and background scores that were composed in those theatrical performances, which I am sure he had learnt from the ‘pianist’ of the theatre house! And surprisingly, he still plays them out of memory and practice, perfectly without any notations to rely upon! So, you see, he is a ‘musician’ after all, and without him so many pianos in our city would fall silent!”
I nodded silently and came away from my father’s room. When I entered the drawing room, Ratan-babu was almost done with his day’s work on our piano. I stood rooted beside the curtain, my eyes fixed on this dark and lean man seated on the stool at the piano: his eyes closed, back straight and head tilted slightly; his face bore an expression of trance as his deft fingers danced along softly striking the black and white keys on the long keyboard panel!
The story of his life, his struggle and his determination to fight back, and his passion and love for music, which I just heard from my father was all fresh in my mind and I found it greatly inspiring. My ears caught the lovely melody that he played: the lyrical wafting of some old theatrical background score perhaps, which today seemed to celebrate Ratan-babu’s dream of being a musician…
About the Author/StoryTeller: Born in 1974 in Calcutta and a Post-graduate in English Literature, my career spans twenty years, initially in banking and financial services and presently in the FinTech industry. Having interacted extensively with people from various walks of life, I love to meet and know people; fascinated by life’s experiences and I draw inspiration from them. An avid traveller and reader, my passion for writing is a hobby and a medium to showcase my own kaleidoscope of life’s stories. In November 2013 I self-published my first novel, “Friendship Calling”, a story based on his own real-life experiences with his friends, a mysterious disappearance of one friend and a search ending in an exceptional outcome. In August 2016, I published my second novel “A Case of Connections”, a story of a family discovery based on true life characters and their experiences. Both novels are currently available on popular ‘online bookstores’ and have received encouraging reviews from readers, enjoying acclaimed global readership. In May 2018, after the successful debut in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge, my eBook “Ancient Cities of India” was published by Blogchatter on their website. The eBook has received appreciative reviews from readers and is available for download here.
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