Turning points…

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Turning points…

I think everyone has turning points in their lives. Days when their whole world changes direction and I want to tell you about one of mine…
On this particular day, I decided to leave home. Run away. I was eight or nine I guess.
I have already said, elsewhere in this blog, that I was a difficult child. I fell over things, dropped precious objects, blurted out inappropriate comments. If I had been pretty or cute, I may have got away with it, but I wasn’t.
A woman (one of those ones who wear lots of make up and long flowing dresses and sandals and string belts with beads on the ends) once told my mum, “She is an Indigo Child. Be very careful you don’t extinguish that blue light,”

My mum had stared at her in stunned disbelief.

Wow, did us kids have fun with that one! We already had a green child…our very own alien… (although that is another story for another day,) now: blue! Cool.

I had been going through a bad patch, both at home and at school, and decided I didn’t fit in anywhere and it would be best for everyone concerned that I should leave home. I know a lot of kids do this, run away, sometimes several times.
In my case, however, it was a very real possibility I could be gone for several nerve-wracking days. You see, whilst I didn’t know anything about the mixed race community, I knew plenty about the black one. On my horse and accompanied by my dog, I was well known in many of the ‘compounds’ in the Esigodini Valley, welcome in the kraals in the TTL (Tribal Trust Lands) nearby. I could easily put my horse in with the cows, slip into a kitchen hut with the kids. The adults wouldn’t know mtwana nge twobob had been there until I had left, bright and early. (My dad’s nick name was ‘two bob’ – so mtwana nge twobob means the child of twobob.)
On this occasion, I had it all planned. I would go to my friend Charity who lived on a farm about five km away.
I encountered a problem immediately. When I got to her home, coming on dusk, I found she had been elevated to working in ‘the house,’ learning how to be a domestic. I tied my horse to a tree and commanded Sheba to ‘stay.’ I decided I would creep close and attract Charity’s attention.
The house, one of those massive old colonial ones, is raised quite high off the garden. A set of sweeping concrete steps polished bright red every morning by Charity’s mother, lead to a wide veranda and beyond, a huge double door with frosted glass panels down each side. Matching wooden windows on either side looked onto the verandah. I guessed they were bedrooms, maybe some living space, a parlour or something. I dashed across the lawn to the bay window which truncated the veranda on the south side. My plan was to creep along the veranda wall to the steps to look for Charity.
Crouched there, about to make a dash I froze at the sound of someone moving about in the room above my head. A window directly above me was thrown open and I shrank against the wall. Soon after, I heard the piano. I was paralysed by the most beautiful music I had ever heard. It filled the scented garden, flooding out of the open window.
It went on for hours and I sat in the soft, wet flowerbed, my back against the wall, enthralled. Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart, although of course, I didn’t know that then. One piece flowed seamlessly into the next. I left my body that night. I was no longer sitting there; I was somewhere else in the universe, flying to the moon, floating on the clouds, totally caught up by the experience.

I didn’t get to run away that time. I didn’t find Charity, I found beauty instead. That evening started me off on a lifelong romance, of discovery. I returned many times to that flowerbed under the bay window. The first time I heard Rachmaninoff, I simply would not believe it was one person playing, above me, there in that room. Pulling myself up on a creeper growing along the wall, I peered over the windowsill at the little, gray haired lady, sitting alone at the piano, her slim fingers flying over the keyboard. I had never seen a grand piano, it looked very different to ours. I wasn’t even sure it was a piano. It stood in a beautiful room with wooden paneling, puffy leather chairs and heavy gilt framed pictures on the walls. Large rugs covered the floor of the lounge which was was beyond the piano. The grand piano stood alone, in the bay window, gleaming on a polished teak floor. It had four little wheels and a lid which opened and the keys shone white under the old lady’s fingers.

I collect music now. I used to have hundreds of Cd’s – now, gigabytes. I have music on my phone, in the car, in my head. I thought I had heard it all, and then, recently I discovered a Brahms I had never come across before! I’m lucky now I’m old and can have Mendelssohn blaring out the car window – my love of classical music always sat a little oddly on the veneer people saw of me – the farmer, the cronky car, the hot chick in the tiny mini skirts!

Two years later, the old lady moved into the house next to us, would you believe. She continued playing most nights until her fingers knotted up with arthritis. I never spoke to her, never let her know I hid outside, listening. I was scared if I did, I would mess it all up by saying something I shouldn’t, or drop one of her ornaments. Instead I crouched outside on her little porch and listened to her play. My own private concert and I can tell you, I have never been able to match that experience. Even on the farm with our fancy sound system open to the night sounds – the dam in front of our house, wild night birds – nothing compares to that sound from the real deal, grand piano, played by someone who practiced every day of her life.

I was privileged to go to the Convent with several musicians, the most notable, Lesley Smith. Her violin never failed to block the breath in my throat.  Nothing beats listening to a master musician play, in the same room as you. It’s a pity Cush lost his ear drums in a land-mine explosion; he played the violin until then. I can only imagine what his Steiner would have sounded like, out in the open bush, our auditorium.

And the Indigo Child? Well, years later, another person told me I had an Indigo ‘aura’ and yes, she also has the long flowing skirts, believes in ‘internal energy fields,’ although with short hair and no mascara! So I searched for the term on the Internet.
I would love it if I were an Indigo Child. They sound so cool.

 

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6 responses »

  1. Thanks Frankie. This took me back to my Aunts big old farmhouse in Bindura. Her sister a maiden aunt used to play the piano. Didn’t grip me quite like it did you but I can remember playing in the garden and hearing the music floating in the air while we played cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians. A wonderful time!

    • Thanks for the comment. My mum played the piano, very well too…perhaps it was the clandestine nature of the adventure that gave it the edge! Also, this lady practiced every single day and on a baby grand! Music moves me; no doubt about that, and its often music that brings out my creativity. Sometimes of course it just occupies my time. Recently I gave my husband a massage to Mendelssohn’s concerto for piano and violin. At the end he just lay there like a jelly!

  2. Isn’t it amazing how the ugly duckling as a child so often turns into the prettiest of women. Enthralling read and I love music too albeit not a big classical fan. Furthermore, music was lost to me for such a long time, now can hear it again although very different, but, I love it and in the end that’s all that counts.

    • Loving music and losing the ability to hear it must have been very hard – I would have struggled incredibly. I have some classical music in my head, that I can call up at will – but I doubt I could remember it without reinforcement. We have always had good sound equipment and have music going on in various parts of the house – but I find pop music doesn’t sound that good in rural areas – thumping music fits best in town – in night clubs etc! Thanks for the visit

  3. An incredible tale of a troubled, rebellious youth and memories of my own childhood struggles, but such uplifting joy at the beauty and peace you found below that colonial window in the African bush. The valley, for me, was always one of the most magical (and painful) places of my youth. Second only to the mystic and majesty of the grand Matopos. Thank you for sharing and bringing some light to my grey winters day.

    • Yes – I was an awful child – my poor parents! I have often wondered if she knew I hid there and played to an audience! She was a sweet old lady – and played exquisitely –
      Thank for the visit and comment

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