I’m listening to classical music right now.
I listen to all kinds of music while I’m writing, often picking particular styles that set the mood for whatever I’m working on at the time. I don’t know why I picked classical today but it just so happens the first piece to come up features a pianist.
As I’m trying to concentrate there is a thing deep inside me that makes itself known. Not a voice, although it certainly speaks to me. Not even a feeling, really. Just a knowing…
It’s my mother.
My mom passed away almost ten years ago and for those who knew her personally I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the sound of a piano instantly brings her back to life in my mind. Music was a big part of her life. As was I. If only two things could be said about my mom they would be, above all else, she loved her kids and she loved music.
Thank you, Mom.
Now that I’m writing I can understand why she felt so connected to her music. Just like putting pen to paper is for me, playing music transferred her to a different world…heart and soul. When she heard the notes rolling gently along, building then receding, they spoke to her in a language only she could understand. It is the most intimate thing in the world. It was her poetry.
The image of her at the piano keeps popping up in my head. Her back is to me, her hands fanned out across the keys. They move with the grace of someone who is part of the music…not the clumsy, clunking poking at them like I do. She felt each and every note she played.
In a way, I see her music in my writing. The ebb and flow of the story, the pace and tone…it’s there. The way a sentence reads, letting it lead to the next thing. The images. For me, I must feel what my characters are feeling. I have to experience their emotions myself in order to express them in my writing. Sometimes that’s a bit scary…like right now.
I see her finishing now…just as I’m about to. She lifts her fingers from the keys gently, letting the music fade off into nothingness…
Just as she does…
I stepped out of the sputtering rickshaw and onto the dusty road leading to Jama Masjid Mosque. There was a hill to climb, so steep I could only see the tops of the mosque’s two minarets, but the crowd was moving in that direction which made the ascent much easier.
Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India and one of the most notable in the world. Built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1628 AD, it reflects the majesty and symmetry of his more famous masterpiece, the Taj Mahal. It’s an anchor in the center of Old Delhi, however, it alone did not provide me with my most lasting impression.
As I crested the hill an awesome sight stretched out before me. To the right was the mosque; grand, serene…a beautifully peaceful place. To the left; Chawri Bazaar. Crowded, frenetic, and intimidating in almost every way. Streets crowded with people cut lines through the ramshackle buildings. Merchandise stacked in piles six feet high spilled out from shacks where workmen welded, hammered and polished copper and brass ware. Motors, shoes, pots and pans…While the courtyard of the mosque was quiet, the noise from the bazaar rose up the hill as a muted roar. Everything material needed in this life, contrasting with the emptiness of the mosque. Peace reigned there.
I watched the two scenes below me and saw the manifestation of heaven and earth. I had never before experienced such a clear example of the differences between the spiritual world and the human world.