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A Musical Night

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

When elders force unfulfilled dreams onto their children, these dreams aren’t owned. Mainly because the children never truly understand the dream’s beauty; they are filled with contempt about being compelled.

“A Musical Night” by Sharon Mathew is the story of two orphaned sisters where the younger sister is forced to learn music since the elder one sacrificed it for their survival.

Cover Photo by Pankaj Tottada

In the valley of the Nilgiri hills, two sisters lived together. They were named Riya and Diya. They lived in the pastures of Ooty, and like nature’s beauty around them, each of them was beautiful in their own unique way.

Diya was ten years younger than her sister and was considered the precious one. She always had something new to learn from people around her, considering how little she knew the world. Riya, on the other hand, was old enough to understand how humans built a mechanical machines that dictated most of their lives.

A few years ago, the sisters lost their parents along with their elder brother in a road accident. Everything was blissful in that trip to Alleppey until the Gods decided otherwise and left the sisters with nothing more than mere memories.

Eighteen-year-old Riya was calm and patient, but her little sister was naughty and stubborn. Riya did her best to present a life filled with all the best things to her sister.

As Diya grew older, she became arrogant and rude towards her sister. She didn’t like her and shouted at her for no reason by finding faults in everything. For once, she never even tried to understand her elder sister.

Riya was never fed up with the way Diya behaved with her. She still loved her, but at times, she burst out and cried for not knowing the reason behind her sister’s behaviour, but only when she was all by herself.

Riya neither let anyone else know about the pain she experienced nor did she let anyone know the price she was paying for gifting her sister a sophisticated life. She dreamed of becoming a violinist, but she could not due to her work and other engagements.

So she decided to let her sister fulfil her dream. In her first class itself, Diya’s master asked her, “Tell me, child. Do you like to play the violin?”

To which Diya replied, “I’m only here because my sister insisted.”

With a smile, Diya’s master started the class, and as the weeks passed by, Diya’s hatred towards learning violin grew, and so did her anger towards her sister. She would silently murmur in anger, “It’s all because of my sister.”

As the weeks passed by, the master felt hopeless. He comprehended that Diya had no skill and was not even ready to dedicate time to acquire it.

Riya always dropped and picked up her sister from the music class. She always thought Diya had a wonderful session, and after the first few weeks, she stopped speaking to the master often too.

After six months and twenty-four sessions, Diya stopped coming to classes all of a sudden. The organisation dropped a mail but never heard back from her.

Diya stepped into her old violin class three months later to surprise her master. Asking her to sit, her master asked, “Is everything alright?”

Diya didn’t answer. Comprehending that she didn’t want to talk about it, he asked, “Would you like to participate in the Recital?”

Even though the master was aware of the fact that the Recital was only for the students who were attending classes regularly. He intended to offer Diya a chance. In a broken tone, Diya confessed, “Apologies, master. I never liked to play the instrument, and my elder sister forced me into this.”

While her master liked her honesty, Diya continued, “If I take part in the recital, I promise I will only do so out of my own will.”

Taking a deep breath, the master inquired, “Tell me, what made you change?”

Diya looked at the old man in his sixties for a moment before stating, “My sister was hospitalised two months ago, and her suffering from cancer, along with her words for my future, moved me.”

With tears pouring out, Diya continued, “She desired that I take part in the Recital. I’m delighted you’re offering me a chance. I was wondering how I could earn my position.”

The master didn’t say another word. He just nodded.

Four weeks later, it was finally the Recital evening. The entire music school was decorated, and the lights enhanced the school’s beauty. The night was dark, and the sky was lit by the twinkling stars, and the school was packed with friends, parents, teachers & students.

Diya was the last one to perform, as her master had suspicions concerning her limited practice. He believed that she wasn’t a trained violinist to perform the Recital, and if anything went wrong, he decided to manage it with a curtain closer.

All the events happened as expected by the master. When it was Diya’s turn, she stepped onto the stage. She didn’t look anything like the other students. Her face was pale, her eyes were swollen, and her clothes were wrinkled.

Her master wondered why she decided to dress up like that for the Recital. Everyone was eager to listen to her as they anticipated the last performance to be the best one.

Diya picked her violin and started playing notes which her master had taught. Her fingers were on the strings while she continued playing more than anyone before her. Her master could notice that as she played, she lost her nervousness, and it seemed like she was enjoying her craft, but she wasn’t nearly good. Considering her predecessors, she was terrible. Adding to it, she brought new variations to the way she played.

After ten minutes, Diya concluded her performance. Only a few members of the crowd applauded. After they stopped, Diya requested, “Could I thank you before the curtains are dropped?”

With her master’s permission, she said, “Thank you, everyone, for your patience. I would like to take this moment to thank my master for not giving up on my request and my sister, to whom I will always be grateful since she introduced me to music, hoping I will express my feelings. She might no longer be with me mortally, but I think she will live with me through the bond we built with music.”

As Diya got down the stairs from the daise, Diya couldn’t help but recall her sister. She heard her saying, “You should take care of yourself while finding a way to accomplish something for yourself in this life.”

After a few formal handshakes from her friends, her master reached out to her to say, “I’m glad your sister’s faith amounted to something, but you shall have to do a lot more to understand the essence of music truly.”



This contribution is edited by R. K. Chamarla & Tarun Chintam & photographed by Pankaj Tottada.



This short story is available in paperback & ebook.

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