Uit: An Equal Music
„I stared at her with such incredulity that she looked down.
“You’re always humming,” she said in a much quieter voice, feeling perhaps that she had to explain.
“It’s my work,” I said, ashamed of my bitterness. Another customer entered the shop, and I left.
As I put my week’s croissants–all except one–in the freezer, I noticed I was humming the same half-tuneless tune of one of Schubert’s last songs:
I see a man who stares upwards
And wrings his hands from the force of his pain.
I shudder when I see his face.
The moon reveals myself to me.
I put the water on for coffee, and look out of the window. From the eighth floor I can see as far as St Paul’s, Croydon, Highgate. I can look across the brown-branched park to spires and towers and chimneys beyond. London unsettles me–even from such a height there is no clear countryside to view.
But it is not Vienna. It is not Venice. It is not, for that matter, my hometown in the North, in clear reach of the moors.
It wasn’t my work, though, that made me hum that song. I have not played Schubert for more than a month. My violin misses him more than I do. I tune it, and we enter my soundproof cell. No light, no sound comes in from the world. Electrons along copper, horsehair across acrylic create my impressions of sense.
I will play nothing of what we have played in our quartet, nothing that reminds me of my recent music-making with any human being. I will play his songs.”
Vikram Seth (Kolkata, 20 juni 1952)