"You are going to be the first out of us all to get married." My friends giggle.
"What makes you think so?" I snap.
"You are diligent, intelligent, responsible, and patient."
"But so are you all. And mind you, I am only patient with myself."
"And you are pretty."
That took me by surprise. I have not heard that all my life, except from adults, which were obviously out of courtesy. After ditching contact lenses for glasses, not brushing my hair, not smoothing my clothes, not applying chap sticks, I am considered pretty?
"Rubbish" is all I manage to say. I run a hand through my dark
tangled hair and free it with a couple tugs.
"And a music major.. so very romantic!"
"I am anything but romantic!" I growl.
The bell rings for lunch. I get to spend Thursday noons alone while they are in environmental club.
"See you later then." My friends chant in unison.
"Ya, see you later." I wave them off.
"I can already see you with a tall, handsome man-"
"-a musical farang!"
"Shut up already!" Silly girls, I stay in Thailand. No one is marrying any farang. They can say I am too serious, but really I am just rational. Overseas is further than I need to go, Mahidol is not bad. There is not such a thing as poor inspiration, only a poor composer. A good composer can make music out of anything. Everything at home is sufficient enough.
The freshmen scatter away as I storm down the hallway. Do I really look terrifying? Third to shortest out of the whole grade, waist length hair which I rebelled to keep, a slight slouch, hands in my pockets, muddy sneakers, brisk steps towards the canteen. I pause at a reflection. Oh gosh, I look terribly stern. So ironic for my name, Yim means "smile". After warming my stomach with bowl of guay teaw, I am left with nothing to do.
There is a new piano in the multi-purpose room, I suppose I can go check it out. It might even become my new Thursday routine. But first, I must climb some stairs. It did not occur to the school's founders that there would be such a population boom, so each building is five floors or so, squeezed onto the limited plot of land in the narrow soi. Before I getting to the fourth floor, I hear a single E flat on a piano. Then an arpeggiation of A flat major commences.
Liszt's Liebestraume No. 3.
Through the tiny glass of the door I peep. Who can it be, it cannot possibly be a student! There are very few student who have passed a simple level four. A senior. His skills are exceptional. The rordor style haircut is difficult to differentiate from behind so I scrutinize him for a while longer.
It is P' Pisuit!
He always played pop songs for talent shows, it did not occur to me that he is so brilliant! Pisuit juggles the melody back and forth between his two hands, accumulates speed and tension, and at the single note, let it drop and fade. The cadenza creeps up from the deep, zings over to the right, and trills its way down. Fades. Takes a breath.
The theme recurs in B major, mirroring accompaniments bouncing left and right, then takes another step up to C. The grand bass drops the bomb. The theme recurs again, speeding up, building up, hammering octaves and leaping in and out. Pisuit's nimble left hand sweeps up and recedes like a wave. He accelerates again, hitting the G sharp harder each time, smithing it to an enharmonic A flat, and octave higher, ascending, ascending, ascending..
Another cadenza tinkles down as a spider from its web, and zings around some more before running out of energy, then starting the theme over again. Pisuit's left arm crosses his right elegantly, falls to a couple sequences, and bridges over to the outro. The treble chords sparkle softly in the deserted room. The ending glissando has me dazed and caught in the dream.
Pisuit just sits there absorbing the traces of music, oblivious to my observation. He is usually so vibrant, energetic, cheerful, surrounded by friends, that I mistook him for being one of those loud, shallow people.
A bell breaks the spell and makes me jump and scurry away instantly.
It turns out to be an idle afternoon today. There is no homework to do, no project to brush up, no test to revise for. What a treat. One does not simply get a free afternoon, even on a Friday, not under Chinese influence. Today is a true wan suk. Maybe I will help mother with the cooking.
While I chop up the coriander, mother runs her hand through my
"It is too long already. Let's go to the salon at five."
"No? You must handle it if you will not have it cut. Wash it often, and at least, brush it daily!"
"Why, does anyone notice if I have tangled hair?"
"It is a mess."
"Doesn't concern anyone."
The truth is, I don't want to be reminded of my old self. Choices are mine to make, although I do not choose this hair to impress anyone. I keep it simply for myself.
The scruffier the better. Keep the guys away from me.
Early bedtime at half past nine. Enjoy it while I can, tomorrow may not be as merciful. The neighbourhood is asleep, and even the dogs are too tired to whine and howl. I sink into my mattress and stare into the dark ceiling above. In the silence of my room, the phantom of a piece slips into my mind. A single E flat. Arpeggiation of A flat major.
The scene plays before my eyes. The way he caressed the keys, released all his passion. I couldn't quite see his face, but he hunched over in deep concentration and absorption. He lolled with the rise and fall of the phrases. He shuddered at particular harmonies.
The piece captivates me and encourages me to sink into the experience. Liebestraume. Love dream. It might be the lack of activity this afternoon, or the damp November air meddling with my senses that prompts me to drop my guard.
The very wall I held for four years.
Cautiously, I inch towards P' Pisuit. Our eyes fall awkwardly to our shoes or something on the ground. But our distance closes gradually. Then we are close enough for him to take my hand. His fingers are firm around mine. With courage, I look him in the eyes. A slight smile creeps across his face. He pulls me into his furnace-body. His arms wrap around my waist, moulding me into the girl that I tried to hide.
A pleasant simmering spreads from within my abdomen. It is all I can do to put my arms around his neck and bury my face in the hollow of his neck. There is no way I can possibly part from this embrace. I want to stay here forever. I stick out my index and middle finger, and place the crack between my fingers to my lips. A fever rushes all the way to my scalp. My forehead, back, and fingertips pulse away cheerfully. My heart rattles in my ribcage.
I suppose it is okay to release the flood once in a while.