Night was falling. Nobody went to see me. I heard Florence’s footsteps in the stairs, in the corridor but she didn’t push the door. I DID know her and I knew she did nothing randomly. She likes to joke, mess around. She never loses the sense of things and knows how to get to the point. All her colleagues praise her human qualities and respect her work at the office, in politics or at church. Eventually, the door opened. Shy Constantin came in softly, as if he was doing something forbidden. He held a notebook in his hand. He didn’t realize how his incursion in my sick-man room made me feel better.
- “Daddy” he told me when he was coming closer. His voice was soft.
- “I learnt my song for the audition of the music school. Would you like to hear it?”
He didn’t wait for my answer. He started and I realized how gifted this boy was. Did his skills – like his three other brothers! – come from our unknown Polish ancestors? From my father, the “Polish-Jewish prince? From my mother? Constantin gave me the best gift I could have dreamt for. When he was done, he came closer, gave me a kiss on my front head and left the room without my appreciation.
Constantin was the first to dare to enter my prison; his brothers came successively. I listened to them even though I thought of other things in the same time: Haydn’s Double Concerto turned in my mind parts after parts, the difficulties to overcome. In my head, I held my viola and found the good touch with my left hand. But the right one reminded totally motionless on the blanket. When the boys left the room, Florence – who wanted to be alone with me – sat on the edge of the bed and took my alive hand. Her red eyes underlined she cried… again.
- “Don’t worry, it’s gonna be OK!” I told her.
“The concerto is not so complicated. I know Mozart and young Michael Haydn were close friends, they doubled escapades. This Double Concerto has been written to enjoy playing music together. It traveled from one royal court to another in Europe. It was interchangeable because it combines viola as well as organ.”
She smiled and squeezed my hand.
- “Maybe you should be helped.” She suggested.
- “No, I wanna fight alone. The methods of physiology don’t fit for a musician!”
She let the silence settle between us. “Dear Florence, do you understand it’s also for you I want to win my fight by myself?”
- “I’ll be in Timisoara Festival/ I have more than one year to use my right arm and hand again. It’s very long. And I’ll know the concerto by heart. The difficulty is not here!”
- “Really?” She was surprised.
- “Yeah! When Mozart was alive, people played with home organs less powerful than the current organs. I need to particularly work the sound of my viola in order to be well-heard and balanced in comparison to the organ! It will be the major difference and of course, standing still while I’ll play.”
She came out wordless.
When I was alone, I forced myself to move my right arm. I’ve just become conscious I was not able to write, hold a pencil at all. It scared me because my sleep was full of awful events, blood visions, hangings with a sharp sound of breaking neck vertebras when I didn’t open my safety valves for a while. When he was little, Nicolas had the same fear than I! My four boys heritated from some of my anxieties. As I was used to, I prayed and hope came back. A sweat heat wave invaded and spread my body and my motionless side seemed to live again – a little at least. “God will never give up on me”. I was sure of this. According to Spinoza, the order of the world is defined by the way our little reason can’t understand what harmony is. We need to trust. What seems unfair is part the whole eluding beauty. So, in order to confront this new ordeal, I needed to trust me entirely. Here was the keyword!
I tried my hardest to raise my unsensitive arm up. I gritted my teeth and ordered my muscles to contract but they still refused to obey. Something didn’t work, didn’t relay. Making my hand move asked me a considerable effort. I had the impression of being paralyzed, sentenced to remain lying for the rest of my life. I felt as I moved my right arm better when I had come home… As if my condition has been deteriorating since…
The door opened. Raphael Entered with his cello. I barely listened to him rehearsing in his room before because he closed the door. He smiled proudly and put the chair in the corridor next to my room.
- “I can do it!” He told me triumphantly.
He put the cello in front of him and started to play a dance from Bach’s Second Sequel. Music spread through me, she was so beautiful. From time to time, he looked up at me but I didn’t have the force to show him my overjoyed face. I felt my eyes wet. He didn’t understand this music put me next to the abyss and only a single little push could make me fall inside. It was as if I looked at the world through a glass cage.
- “It’s very very good! But be careful, you’re making some mistakes again. Your pointed quavers are always too short and your reprisal is too frisky. Take your time, the tone is peaceful, calm, think about the nuances.”
Yesterday, you used to play together: Raphael with the cello, I with the viola. I saw him when he was four and begged us to play the “Violacell”. We liked to improvise… The three of us, Nicolas, Raphael and I understood with a single look and changed tone. Our act was so set up people asked us to play during family dinner or to accompany my choristers during concerts or performances.
Suddenly, Raphael stopped. The silence followed the cello’s resonance. An infinite silence. The silence of a cellar. “No, I won’t cry in front of him. I have to be the strong-willed father he knows. Always standing in front of the storm. But some tears should have rolled over my cheeks. Does his will of being a therapist come from here?”
He came out without a word. He closed the door. Why did I almost give in in front of him! “My God, you didn’t want me to die once more. I’m bending to your will.” And his goal was probably to turn my ordeal into an example for the people who suffered.