“The piano tuning must be perfect, Shigekazu-san.” The concert violinist admonished. “This piece is like a love song between the violin and the piano, neh?” Her lithe fingers played in the air to emphasize the words.
“Of course, I’m almost finished.” Shigekazu smiled at the violinist’s analogy. His fingers glided over the strings. He didn’t use tuning forks. He didn’t use electrical devices. He tuned by what his ear told him. He felt the vibration of the sound board in his bones, through the air, as it circulated through the ground. It was why he had been called down to Wakayama for the special appearance of the national virtuoso.
After a slight tweak, Shigekazu slid free. “There. It is finished.”
“Let us see,” the violinist countered. “Hachiro, come and play with me. The concert is in less than an hour.”
A thin man deposited himself at the piano and began playing an evocative melody. The violinist retrieved her instrument and immediately fell into a trance of concentration. Her bow slid across the strings and the voices of angels filled the hall. Shigekazu listened, and consumed the performance as though it were just for him.
They finished and the women opened glistening eyes. “Arigato gozaimasu, Shigekazu-san. Arigato gozaimasu,” thank you, thank you. “It is perfect, absolutely perfect.”
“Doitashimashite,” Shigekazu replied. It would be the one thing he would remember above all others in his life. He packed up his piano tuning tools and went back to the small town of Iwade where he lived with his wife. They had no children at the time, even though they were in their mid-forties.
It was a few years later when his wife unexpectedly became pregnant with a child, a little girl. For what reason we are left to guess, but he enjoyed beer, sake’ and the bars in Osaka. He wasn’t home often and left his wife and child to often wonder when he might be home. The girl they sent to America to study at the age of fifteen. She stayed there, went to an American university and met an American boy she married. I was this boy, almost twelve years ago. A couple years after my marriage to his daughter, Shigekazu was diagnosed with liver cancer, a common ailment of people with Hepatitis C who also have a propensity for drinking. The doctors treating him exploited every possible surgery and natural remedy to extend his life. Last year he became a permanent resident at the hospital by all common measures. My wife and I took our family to Japan to see him in the heat of the 2010 summer. It was not a vacation.
This story will be continued in tomorrow's post.