Finding Hope

Grand piano and music staves, with flying hummingbirds, all in rainbow colours

Life was unbearable for Yana until a familiar sound opened her heart once more…

The noise of the camp never ceased. It was there during her every waking hour, and there were very few hours that she slept.

Not for a moment did she feel safe, surrounded by strangers who were as relentlessly desperate as herself.

Not that she had anything for them to take. Any belongings she had brought with her had long gone in her fight to get as far as she had.

Curled into a ball on a piece of tarpaulin, Yana tried to cover her ears and mouth but there was little she could do against the continuous noise
and stench.

She breathed through her mouth, closing her eyes, trying to imagine that she was back in her own bed, surrounded by her own things and in the arms of Halil.

It never worked. She could never imagine it. The reality was that she would never be comforted by the strong arms of Halil again.

Her eyes remained dry as the tears had run out many weeks ago.

Yana had developed a resolve that had surprised her and a hardness that she didn’t quite care for, but she knew there had been no choice.

She would never have survived as the wilting flower she had once been, looked after and spoilt by her husband.

Halil had been the worker and Yana had made his life easier, serving up his favourite dishes and letting him watch his chosen programmes every night when he got home.

They had waited and waited for children to come along, praying nightly that they would be blessed, but God had chosen otherwise.

In the years that she had been barren, Yana had railed against God’s apparent decision, but now she wondered at his wisdom.

In the depths of this hell, she knew this was no place for children – or for anyone.

She had spent time thinking how it would have been to see her own children suffer; her own flesh and blood who would have relied on her and Halil to keep them safe.

The pain of it would have been unbearable and so perhaps God had not done Yana a disservice.

Perhaps he had held her even closer to his heart.

As she lay, her stomach cramped with hunger, Yana finally began to realise that she had started to lose her mind.

Sounds trickled around the palms that closed off her ears and she knew they were a hallucination… a crazy torment of the life that she had once had.

The keys were so familiar and the notes a part of her soul.

Her eyes remained closed until it all felt so real that she could no longer fight the urge to open them and the movement around her proved that the unreality had been false.

There really was music. There really was the sound of God’s heart among all this made by the devil.

She eased herself painfully to her feet, taking her time, her head swirling from hunger, pushed and nudged until she almost fell, but drawn overpoweringly as though by a magnet.

There was beauty. There really was beauty and heaven and Yana had to be near it.

Within minutes she had found the remnants of her strength and was right beside the piano.

A piano. Here. At best, she had imagined it was just a tape or a CD.

The man’s fingers flowed over the keys, producing a torrent of magnificence, rivalling the power of the tsunami she’d seen on TV.

It settled deep in her gut and she breathed it in and absorbed it through every pore of her body.

Goosebumps rose on her limbs and tears welled in her eyes.

The moment the music ended, her own fingers caressed the ivory white of the piano keys, gained a mind of their own and all her inhibitions fell away from her.

The feel of them on her fingertips produced a warmth deep inside her and her own heart began to sing.

The long days when Halil had been at work now came back to her and she, at last, allowed herself to remember. She relived the hours at her piano, the practice and the rehearsals. She remembered the audiences, the venues and the applause.

It wasn’t so long ago and yet it felt like a lifetime.

So many times her fingers had itched like a scratch she couldn’t get to. She had longed, in the depths of her heart, to play again; just like she had longed, in the depths of her heart, for Halil.

As her fingers rested on the glossed wood, she felt a warmth on the back of her hand and brown eyes looked into her own.

“Would you like to?” he asked, in an indistinct accent.

Yana’s eyes were wide and sparkling.

She nodded, excitement stealing her speech away.

She sat where the man had sat, drew the stool a little closer, rested her fingers on the keys and closed her eyes once again. But this time they were closed not to block out the pain or the hundreds of people around her, but to shut in the ecstasy.

She was at one with the instrument and Halil was beside her, hand caressing her shoulder as she played Beethoven’s Pastoral 6th.

It had been Halil’s favourite and now he was with her, sharing the rise and fall of the music, imagining the orchestra behind them.

Tears of joy ran down her cheeks as her hands pounded at the keys and the realisation hit her.

For the rest of her life she could always bring Halil back to her. Whenever she played, they could be one.

As she finished playing, her hands still on the keys, there were a few moments of silence as the camp seemed to hold its breath and then an explosion of applause.

The man grasped her hand but Yana ignored it, reaching out to hug him instead, embracing another human for the first time in so long.

This man, with his piano in the middle of so much torment and misery, had given her back something she’d given up on.

He had given her something for her soul to feed on.

He’d given her life back.

He had given her hope.

We’re sharing another lovely short story from our archives on the theme of Hope for the Future, every Monday and Thursday during January. Look out for the next one!