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The Czech Woman






The Czech Woman  



For the two days I came to Prague, each time I saw the woman seated on the Charles Bridge and playing music with her strange old instrument. She played some wonderful music, that I am certain about. Sometimes of the old world. Of pure Czech origin. Of a tune that belonged to the roots. Each time I passed her I heard a different tune. Beside her some local artists painted, two young boys played guitar to collect money for their album and thousands of tourists roamed with excitement and ecstasy in their voices. But she remained unperturbed. She played her music till eight, in the evening. Then she silently packed her stuff and walk away. A strange light filled up her face when she performed. With a traditional dress, she was indeed beautiful and age has given her more innocence, more depth.

Today, I cannot help and walked towards her and gave a twenty Euro note on her bucket. I said, 'I can give you only this much. I am on a tight budget.'

She smiled. One of the lovely smile that one middle-aged woman who has seen life can smile. Then she said,

 'Between by any chance, are you a writer? '

'Well, I am. But how in the world you came to know? '

'You are the instructor in the fiction course that is taking place in that red house near the Church Square? '

'You are again, right. May I ask you, how you came to know that? '

'My daughter works there. She is a helper in the reception.'

'I see. What's her name? '

'Saskia.'

'Beautiful name. '

'Now, instead of this twenty Euro note, can I ask you one thing? '

'Sure. '

'Can you give me a story of yours which I can give my daughter. She loves to read. She wants to join the course. But we are poor. I play music here each evening. She works. We cannot afford to pay the fee. So can you give me, just one of your story? '

I am overwhelmed.

I take out from my bag, one short story I am carrying and gave it to her.

'Write your name on that if you can. '

I wrote, 'To Saskia, with love.'

Then, I said to her,

'Tell your daughter to meet me tomorrow. I don't know about others but the remaining two days, she would be in the class.'

Her face is all bright, all lit. Her lips moved. She searched for words.

Then she said, 'I will play some music for you. What else can I do? '

'It would be my honor.'

For the next half n hour, she played for me some unforgettable music which transformed me into a different world, in the land of Kafka. I feel a serene peace. I feel, there is only the glorious twilight, the beautiful Vltava river and the woman and her music.

When she stopped, I said to her, 'I have never heard such mesmerizing music.'

She smiled one of her very own innocent smiles. She said, 'In winter when in childhood we were in the villages and my father after a tiring day of wood cutting ask me to play some music, I played whatever I can. From there I learned the tune, and then the music. It stayed with me when I came to Prague after marriage. It stayed with me the day my husband died. It stayed with me till today.'

'And it would stay with you forever. ' I said her.

Afterward, she packed the instrument, take the umbrella and the bucket in hand and walked.

'May, I know your name? ' I asked.

'Aureline.' She smiled.

Then we both walked down the Charles Bridge and at one of the junction, she walked in a different road.

I with music in my sense and strange happiness in heart walked towards my hotel.

Now, I wish I could give her, this story too.




Subhadip Majumdar

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