The sounds so small and weak you have to stop and concentrate to hear them.
But most people simply walk on by.
Amid the hubub of the street, her music goes unheard, drowned out by the incessant din of life.
Sometimes you’ll catch a passerby throwing a glance in her direction, confused by this girl who sits on the ground playing an accordion that seems to make no sound.
If a few cents are thrown her way, then it is out of sympathy, rather than appreciation for the music.
Because those same few notes, played over and over, are not melodious, they are mere repetition.
Their purpose is not musical. Their purpose is to numb.
It’s as if, in order to sit there, in order to face those disinterested crowds, she has to play this four note mantra to herself, as a way to block out the world.
When she first appeared outside the store, I would refuse to toss a coin into her box.
She would have to learn to play first, was what I thought. That weak, unmelodic sound she made. That tinny noise she squeezed from the accordion, wasn’t music. Wasn’t deserving of acknowledgement or money.
Some days, it would even irritate me.
“Damn it! Why don’t you learn how to play that thing?”
But every day she would be there again. Hunched in a corner of the shop doorway. Her box at her feet, filled with a few scattered coins, all copper coloured.
That small, small sound she played, never changing.
Occasionally, she sings. Her voice a similar, thin hum of minimalist sound.
Again, not singing. Not music. Just this numbing.
I noticed it when I looked into her eyes. This far away look. Not bored. Not sad.
It went beyond that.
As if she had found a way to cancel out the world. As if, with each note played, she detached herself from everything. That gaze, stretching out into some vanishing point.
A tranquility that came, not from peace of mind, but some long forgotten desperation.
Expressed so perfectly, I now realised, in those sad little notes she plays.