Jing Hua Ang, Grade 11, The Mac.Robertson Girls' High School
Finalist in the 'Beyond Words 2015' competition
A child in white sits on the edge of a chair. In that silent and peaceful moment, a melody begins to travel down through the tips of her fingers. She hears the echoes of simple chords and her fingers move in rendition of Debussy’s Clair De Lune. Despite her young age, she senses her sluggish movements. Her hands quicken to hide the notes, softening with pianissimo, but she thinks, “there’s something wrong.”
Dismissing this feeling, she spirits into her youth, self-assured by her peers. Resolute on practice, she is the charmed picture of a girl at the piano, safe and attached to the furniture. Although it’s harder to sleep, she keeps her smile fixed, and appears in control of her music. Inside, she spends days flying up and down the notes, its spinning changes always leaving her breathless. Her young hands may easily reach the top and stay for weeks, or months. Her pointed peaks became a treacherous place. At that height, the teen will act as though the moon smiled down upon her; a rush of euphoria that feels all too real. After a pang of numbness would plummet her to the bottom, and anger would storm through her, its notes, ferocious and unforgiving. The danger then, is not the harm she inflicts herself or the piano. The real danger is that the delirium tricks her to think there’s nothing wrong.
Years pass, and though middle aged, the mania persists and its bass notes, reverberate in the air, mellow and full-bodied. The hallucinations engulf her, overlapping her in waves and disheartened, she acknowledges that something was seriously wrong. As she touches the cold and smooth marble, she crumples to the ground but her family lifts her up; their love flutters over her as grace notes pulses to compete with the persistent drumming in her head.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the doctor prescribes her medicine, which keeps her, take or give a few notes, on a steady beat. Despite this, the mania would still seize her, and while she stumbles on the opening trill of Chopin Nocturne, she decides to look at the humorous side of her mistakes by pounding her palms down the piano. However, with new patience, she would slowly coax the tunes out.
Years after she first touched the piano, she could see new images of birds inlaid in the surface of the case and the polish, worn away by many hands. Yet the oddest thing is happening. Each day, it becomes a little more crowded. That’s the true beauty of her piano: with her loved ones to play with her, to make the journey up and down beside, she is never alone.