Spider-legs

– Aparajita Choudhuri

1

“Spiders. You’re saying they look like spiders,” he pointed to the pianist on the screen, who was playing the Scarlatti Sonata.

“No! Just spider-legs! And they look like fingers anyway.”

“So hers look like fingers, and mine look like spider-legs,” he played a complex trill in a minor.

“Yes,” Ashthi said.

Silence.

“Wait no! Both look like spider-legs, and fingers!”

It was met with another stony silence, and she hurriedly added, “It was meant as a compliment anyway.” He continued the rest of his pattern drill; an arpeggio, then a fourth, fifth, fourth, and another arpeggio and then a fourth…

The room was filled with the monotony of his perfectly rounded notes, consistent in shape and volume.

Then all of a sudden, Ashthi jumped from her seat, as a sharp chord took over the monotony.

“Beethoven’s Bagatelle, Opus 126, the first movement,” her brother called out as he cracked his knuckles.

“Is that the one with the crazy trill and then that low chord?”

“I have no clue what you just said, do you mean this?”

The piano said, “Papapapaapaaam,”

“Yes!” Their gazes locked for a second and they proceeded to give each other a big grin, half excited, half in awe of the fact that this sound was produced by a hammer hitting a string.

His fingers started to tap dance on the black and white stage.

The spiders were long forgotten as they crept behind their intricate webs.

However, all intricate webs take time, all spiders know that, and by the time the webs on the ceiling of their homes rivaled the frescoes on the Sistine chapel’s, they were packed up and on their way to a concert hall.

Ashthi peeked into the concert hall where her brother was supposed to be playing. Her tiny footsteps echoed in the large, wooden floored, red-carpeted room. Well, not tiny, she was 13 after all. Her shoes made oddly crab-like noise, on the steps to the stage, reflecting her snappy personality. In the dim hall, her white dress was almost a mirage, or an apparition. She glided across the floor, born to revel in it, and plonked down unceremoniously in the center of the large dais, where the piano was going to be in an hour.

“Ahhh” she spoke to no one in general, “I’m so bored,”

No one replied, “Go help them bring the piano, they look like they’re having fun climbing up those many flights of stairs.”

“I am a weak and fragile little girl, why don’t you go?” Ashthi asked, not at all sarcastically.

“Wish you were weak and fragile during dinner, I’ll never know where the fish fry went so quickly.”

“They swam into my mouth, very fast.”

“Sure,” he rolled his eyes obviously, “and I also happen to be playing a concert here soon,” Kaushik plonked down next to his sister and pulled her in for a hug from the back, “I am surprisingly nervous,” he sighed, defeated by his confession.

“What are you playing?”

“Didn’t I tell you?”

“Tell me again.”

“Chopin’s fourth ballad.”

The spiders overhead clicked their pincers in sympathy, Chopin’s fourth ballad was one of the monsters of piano literature.

Kaushik got up and walked towards the changing rooms, his suit beckoned, and his shoes were lined up, ready to march up on stage.

It was a magnificent show. The seconds bounced like the notes on his fingertips. The hours passed by slowly, gallantly, like the royal drapes on a curtain window, dancing softly with the wind. He played like a horse who was showing off his mane to the sun, the stars and the moon. He shone with the pride of the first blooming cherry blossom, when no one was around to see it, but the morning fog and chilly breeze.

A pianist, against all odds, teetering around the edge of the selfish narcissism of his own talent, and his selfless, silent, pledge to music.

The spiders that were clicking their pincers in approval knew that he was going to be fine.

So when he bowed, and left the stage, it wasn’t only the mammals in the room who were regretful, but several arachnids as well.

“Fingers? You are saying they look like fingers.”

“Drop it, just play.”

“Fine.”

The spiders right on top of the piano descended slowly, like a ninja. The hall was devoid of two-legged creatures. Good riddance too. The spiders landed and stretched their legs.

They played a few scales to warm up.

And then proceeded to play the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.

Aparajita is 15 years old and lives in Bangalore with her three dogs.