My new novel gives voice to Natasha, the pianist stricken with early-onset Alzheimer's in my novel Apart From Love Here is an early glimpse into this book:
Once I find my way back, my confusion will dissipate, somehow. I will sit down in front of my instrument, raise my hand, and let it hover, touching-not-touching the black and white keys. In turn they will start their dance, rising and sinking under my fingers. Music will come back, as it always does, flowing through my flesh, making my skin tingle. It will reverberate not only through my body but also through the air, glancing off every surface, making walls vanish, allowing my mind to soar.
Then I will stop asking myself, “Where am I,” because the answer will present itself at once. This is home. This, my bench. The dent in its leather cushion has my shape. Here I am, at times turbulent, at times serene. I am ready to play. I am music.
But until then I am frightened, frightened to the point of panic. Even in my daze I sense the eyes of strangers. Their glances follow me down the street. Stumbling aimlessly from one place to another in the darkening city, turning around this street corner and that, I am amazed to realize that every building looks like an exact replica of the previous one. It baffles me, but I tell myself, with an increasingly shaky tone, that I am not lost. I cannot allow myself to think that I am. I will find my way, right after taking a deep breath to regain my calm. Then I will try to separate familiar lines out of this urban chaos.
Perhaps this intersection is not that far away from home. I am trying to map it in my mind, but the street signs are of no help, of course. Reading them has become such a chore lately, forcing me to traverse one garbled letter after another and connect them without forgetting the beginning of the word. I would like to believe that if street signs were written in notes I could play them in my mind. I could make some sense of them, because that is the language I understand. I am music.
The streetlamp next to the curb seems familiar, I think. So does the way electric light flickers inside, buzzing on and off, off and on. It strobes with a certain rhythm, as if trying to convey some coded message. I have heard this sequence before. It has a particular type of silence towards the end of it, which I sense quite vividly, but cannot explain in words.
Excerpt from The Music of Us
Cover for the paperback edition of The Music of Us