Monday, August 24, 2009

My Father's Mandolin

I had always thought that there had been barely any love in me for my late father until one day at a concert I saw a mandolin. My father had had one, though it had been dark yellow in color and the one on the stage was deep brown.

It had been there, my father's mandolin, since as long as I could remember. Its pear-shaped body was kept in a blue gig bag with white pipings and hung on a wall when my father was not plucking its four pairs of strings with a small amber plectrum. He used to do quick, crispy trills which made the upbeat tunes even more cheerful.

Still the cheerful trills were not attractive enough for me to pick up the mandolin when I grew a bit older. I fell in love with the harmonic sound of chords, which led me straight to the piano in our nearby church. I can still remember the thrill when for the very first time I hit the middle C, E and G keys simultaneously. An indescribable joy flooded my whole little body, and my father's mandolin trills were immediately pushed back to the dusty corner of my abandoned interests.

During my father's long years of absence, his mandolin was languishing desolately on the wall. I once took it down and attempted to do a trill, but soon returned it to its lonely place after failing to make even a decent sound from it.

When my father came back, I was already a headstrong young man with my own values and convictions which often clashed with his, so we were just silently drifting apart. For lack of access to a piano I had switched to playing guitar, which could still give me my chords. My father picked up his mandolin once in a while, but the trills he made did not sound so cheerful any more. One day he suddenly gave the mandolin to a visitor who was expressing a keen interest in it. I felt a mild regret but quickly dismissed it from my mind.

My father died of cancer nearly ten years ago. I had all forgotten about his mandolin until one day I went to a concert. The man on stage was playing a cheerful tune with trills, and I felt humidity creeping into my eyes.

I have a mandolin hanging on a wall in my bedroom now.

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