Thursday October 11, 2012
Music is her keys to happiness
By CATHERINE LIM
A young pianist finds her calling in life, as she coaxes sweet music from the ivory keys.
ONE recent afternoon, my sister and I took a drive down to Malacca to visit a special friend. It has been a while since we last met. Besides, we love that historical city with its quaint charm.
We arrived in the early evening and Jonker Walk was still quiet. So we headed straight to our friend’s house. As we neared Alethea’s house, a neighbour spotted us and told us that Alethea’s grandmother was at another neighbour’s house. Madam Lai hurried over to meet us when she heard that we were visiting.
She was pleasantly surprised to see us, and quickly ushered us into her house with characteristic hospitality. Alethea was having her dinner.
Madam Lai could hardly surpress her excitement as she told us that Alethea had passed her Grade 5 piano exam. She proudly showed us the certificate. Well, Alethea did not just pass her Grade 5 – she scored a distinction! My sister and I were so happy for her.
I hugged Alethea and congratulated her on her achievement. You see, Alethea is blind and she plays by ear.
She performs in the evening just outside her house, and she earns a living that way. Alethea plays a wide repertoire of songs, from golden oldies to pop numbers.
I am momentarily transported to another realm when I sit down to listen to Alethea coaxing beautiful music out of the ivory keys. Her passion for her craft is palpable.
To me, Alethea puts sighted people to shame, especially those who are not willing to work to earn their keep.
She is proof that we can achieve anything we set our hearts on. I admire her confidence, humility and intelligence. I love it when she regales us with stories of her travels with her grandmother. She obviously enjoys travelling.
When I see Alethea, I am humbled because I have eyes but I may not always see life as clearly as she does. The inner vision of my heart is sometimes clouded by worldly distractions.
Alethea lives a simple life, thankful for every blessing that comes her way. I believe she has so much to offer, and I pray that she will have a bright future ahead of her.
Later that evening, Alethea played some short classical pieces which my sister gave her a year or two ago.
Mesmerised, I soaked in the sweet strains of music that saturated the air. Appreciative passers-by and tourists readily dropped their contributions in a box placed nearby.
Alethea exudes joy as she performs modern and classical pieces. She gives her best everyday. She spends at least two hours practising daily.
Alethea is an inspiration to me, and each time I think of her, my little imperfections – I had polio when I was one, and now walk with leg braces – pale into insignificance.
She helps me to see my own strengths, gifts, and self-worth. And in doing so, I begin to see the true worth in others, too.
As I am writing this, my heart beats a little faster, knowing that I have acknowledged my true self. I thank God for the privilege of knowing Alethea and her grandmother. She is a reminder of what true strength is all about.