I remember the night when the piano arrived. I sat and pounded the keys imagining some virtuoso performance. Of course, my aunts applauded the concert.
And then came the violin. I was seven and was a cultural savage. Papa got the strings from some street peddlers in Tarlac. I have not seen a Stradivarius but I somehow sensed the gross inferiority of the gift. Worse yet, I was coerced to home lessons with Professor Teodoro (doesn't this rhyme with terror?).
The shriek of my stooge guaranteed the howl of dogs in the neighborhood. Not to mention the cruelty of my peer's denigrating cracks. I was most miserable when my tutor came. I always prayed for him to be sick. I was in musick prison for 4 years.
There was however a haunting each time my teacher played his gorgeous violin. There was some elegance in his implement that drew me to its lure. Even the wood scent was seductive. Not mine, of course. The wood was more like fabricated plank emitting some lumber whiff.
I never developed any heart for violin. I mastered Jules Massenet's Meditation (Thaïs) but never committed it to heart. The moment I was granted freedom to choose to stop, I took all my classical pieces and literally paper-walled my room with impunity.
But then, I vowed to own an expensive violin some day. Just for some throwback revenge.
I forgot all about the vow and the bow. Life never moves adagio.
Something happens though when spiritual rebirth takes place. All beauty suddenly becomes appealing. I repented from my indifference with a hope of possible redemption.
One day, mother called from Los Angeles with a surprise: "son, pick me up from the airport, I will come in for a brief vacation and I do have a gift for you ... a violin."
My heart pounded as I welcomed Mama. The encased instrument was however my focal point. While driving, I was thanking God for being so personal. I have long been desiring a comeback. I couldn't wait to unpack the blessing.
It was close to midnight when I was finally alone in the living room. I slowly unlocked the gorgeous case and peeked through the grain. Alas! A thing of beauty! I perched it on my shoulder ingesting the hint of expensive wood. Ah, where was this crafted? Cremona, Italy?
I tried playing a few strokes and was convinced that this was truly swag, until I realized that a paper tag inside actually disclosed its origin.
It was no Guarnieri.
It came from somewhere else ...
I was so disappointed, I left the violin uncased. I just huddled up to bed and sank in doloroso.
The proof of being reborn comes with internal rebuke when one walks off the road. I began to realize the insanity of my vanity. Out of generosity, my father grants me what he deems best; my mother does the same; and I spit on their acts of love. My self-absorption camouflaged in self-styled preference stinks.
Come to think of it, If God played me as His violin, I would have been used as firewood at the commence of the first note. Christ kept on playing though and through the challenging hours, days, and years, a serious melody has been taking form.
The dogs are not quite bothered. My playmates have now shifted from Rock to Classics. And I have been convinced that it is no longer about the price and slice of stuff but all about the unselfishness of a true gift.
I have recently decided to be a bold receiver. Not too concerned about the vogue but the absence of rogue.
My violin was never stupid. I was.
The minuet of mercy has begun.