Listen. Listen to the soft tinkering of a far away bell. Listen to the cars weaving through the tarred road, and the bustle of people as they cross the street. Listen to the pitter-patter of small feet, incessant whining, high-pitched reprimanding – and if you listen closely enough – the soft music created through the quick tapping of fingers on black and white keys. Horns blaring and leaves rustling. Maniacal screaming and gentle whispers. These contrasting noises complemented each other (just like bass, tenor, soprano, and melody), turning these noises into an unconventional symphony. And all I had to do was just to listen.
“NEXT!” – a ringing voice broke my thoughts.
The hurried breathing beside me indicated that my turn is coming soon. Huff, huff, huff hufff. Seated closed to me, I could feel the anxiousness radiating from her pores. Her wheezing was constant, like a countdown of the last few seconds of snoozing before your alarms wakes you up to reality. She was seated approximately a metre away from me, breath warm and wet with tension. I could hear the soft grinding of her teeth, and the sound of skin tearing as she scratched her sweating palms with anxiety. I lifted my hand and placed it on her arm.
“Don’t worry. I’m not worrying, so you shouldn’t be either. We can do this.” I smiled.
Her tensed muscles relaxed for a bit, and I could hear the grinding anxiety fading.
“Thanks.” was all she managed to say, as her wheezing slowly returned to just breathing.
A shuffle of feet, a click of the door, and I was left alone in the waiting area. The heat was gone, and the cold air settled around me. My fingers turn to ice, my heart feels constricted, my breath feels heavy, and my legs were numbed. Pull yourself together! The nervousness drew away the oxygen from my brain, causing me to yawn constantly. I knew I was desperate for this, and I had to ace this no matter what.
When it was my turn I was a mess of cold sweat. There were a gaggle of four voices the moment I entered the room – these were the four people I had to impress. Their chitter chatter only increased my sense of fear of what I was to be doing. But once the music was on, their mutterings fade away into silent reverence.
Thump. Thump-thump. Thump. Thump-thump. It was a 2 beat piece of symphony. As the beats seep into my eardrums, there was an instant reaction; a marvellous chemistry that flowed from the tips of the nerves found on my eardrums to my limbs, my waist and hips; travelling through me like a rushing stream of an urgent river. My body was on fire; my limbs were dancing flames moving to the rhythm of the beat. I was possessed with an energy of passion and sweat, and I revelled in feeling this rush of adrenaline as I danced my heart out in front of the panel of the now-silent judges.
The music stopped, and with a heavy pounding heart I stopped as well, waiting impatiently for the vocal sound of approval. My harsh breathing and the thudding of my heart provided a drum roll in anticipation of the verdict that was to be made. My ears searched helplessly for any signs of speech, but it failed, returning only with deafening silence that seemed to stretch for a hundred hours.
And then, I heard the first sound made by the striking of palms, followed by a series of synchronised clapping dancing in my ears. That was the sound of victory, that I have won the war. My heart skipped various beats and I could feel the wetness on my cheeks. I am a winner, and I was not beaten by life, nor the circumstances it has thrown to me; I couldn’t see…but I wasn’t blind to the beat.