Friday, May 21, 2010

Of an Old Piano and a Loyal Television

Soon, we will be throwing a lot of junk out of the house. It is, after all, part and parcel of moving houses. Unfortunately, for a hoarder like me, it is hard to separate between the junk and the keepsakes. Living in the same house for the past 18 years does not help either. Since I occupied the second largest bedroom in the house during my teenage years, up until I inherited the house and moved into the master bedroom, I have never been forced to pack my things into a box. Yes, I have packed multiple times and lived out of a suitcase, but I always knew that I had a place back home where all my precious memories and items of sentimental value are safely stored.

I once had a television which was as old as I am. Well, a few months younger actually. Must have cost a bomb since it was a Sony and a colour TV too! I had fond memories of watching the television with my Mum. Back then Astro was unheard of, therefore TV2 was the channel to watch for quality English movies. And when NTV7 was launched, my old but loyal television was incapable of searching for that particular frequency and I remember thinking that it was probably time for a new TV. We eventually did get a new TV and the old TV was placed in the store room where it collected dust over time. Fast forward to just last year, while Hubby was spring cleaning the house, he convinced me that it was time to throw the TV away. It wasn't the first time he hatched that brilliant idea - I just was able to thwart all his prior coaxing trials! Besides, the television still works albeit poor reception and limited channels. But this time I relented. To cut a long story short, I couldn't bear to look when Hubby brought the TV out and left it at the back lane, I cried when I discovered that I couldn't live without it and cried even harder when Hubby rushed out to take it in again, only to find that it was gone.

Another precious item that has been with me since I can ever remember, is my piano. I started piano classes back when I was only 6 years old. I remember having extra piano classes in the kindergarten hall with the music teacher after kindergarten hours were over. Then my Mum enrolled me into Yamaha where I started Grade 1 classes with another girl (my Mum's friend's daughter). And I remember making a million and one excuses to not go to class, just because the other girl was better at playing the piano and therefore I would get scolded like crazy by the garang teacher for not playing as well as I should. She later told me that the other girl had the drive to practice, but I was actually the more talented one - just unfortunately a bit pemalas. But yes, I did learn a lot from my teacher. Once she even taped my crooked chicken fingers with celophane tape so that I would curve my fingers the 'correct' way in preparation for a piano exam. Yes, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) piano examinations were not easy. The theory exam was usually not too bad (although I hated the part where you had to compose your own music piece), but the practical exam was horrible! Every year I would be at the Federal Hotel in KL (that's where they had the practical exams those days) and I remember walking up and down the hallway, putting my icy cold nervous fingers to my neck trying to warm them up, and playing my music set pieces and scales in the air with my imaginary piano. The worst part was the sight reading exam, where they give you a song piece and you had exactly 30 seconds to study it then play it as best as your can. (I usually score badly with this one!)

Another fond memory I had with the piano was when my Mum was home in bed recuperating from a fibroid surgery, and I was practicing for my piano exams. Since she was at home all day, she would force me to practice multiple times in a day. But because she was upstairs while the piano was downstairs, we would make use of the telephone to communicate. We used to have 2 house phones with the same line - one for downstairs, one for upstairs (those days cordless phones were not cheap), so she would pick up the upstairs phone and I would pick up the downstairs phone and put it to the piano. I would play for her while she listened through the phone. For scales, she would say "Play me A minor!" or "Arpeggio in the key of C major". Truthfully, I don't know how my Mum picked out any of my mistakes on the piano since she wasn't trained musically!

And another memory I had with the piano, which wasn't that pleasant, was failing my 5th grade examination. Piano exams are not cheap, and my Mum would drill that into me constantly, nagging about how expensive the exams are, how my father wasn't helping us financially and grumbling that I wasn't practicing enough. Unfortunately, I failed my 5th grade exam by three measly marks, mainly because of sight reading. And when I found out, I was so scared, I didn't know how to tell my Mum. I kept that secret for more than a week. Whenever she asked me about my results, I told her it wasn't out yet. In the end, I wrote her a note (with plenty of apologies), stapled it with my results and left it in her handbag before she left for work. Needless to say, I got an earful from her that night! And that became the last (and only!) time I failed an ABRSM exam.

As time passed by, I discovered that I did have the flair for playing the piano. As I grew older, I played because I loved to play and hear the sweet songs that my fingers created. When I broke up with my boyfriend, I would bang on the piano for hours. When I am happy, I would play sweet melodies, which even influenced my neighbour to purchase a piano for his daughters. And when my Mum passed away, I played with so much sorrow that I cried and cried - tears pouring on the piano keys.

So imagine my anguish, just a few months after my Mum passed away, my youngest Aunt called and told me that she wanted her piano back. Yes, it was her piano. My grandfather bought her the piano, but when she went to university, my Mum took the piano in. And now she wants it back. She wanted to play the piano again. So she says. I must say I am disappointed to report that since the piano arrived at her house, the piano isn't well maintained, some keys are broken, even the piano seat is stripped!

Recently, I visited my Aunt and plonked Aiden on the piano seat, waiting for a reaction:

My future piano protege'...

Insyaallah, Mummy will buy herself a piano and send you to piano classes when you're old enough. So that you won't be tone deaf!

He looks so at ease with the piano, like he was born to play!

Wonder if I will turn out like my Mum, nagging at Aiden to practice on the piano.

And recently we visited my in-laws, and I was so surprised to find that they too had a television which was as old as Hubby! And it still works!

Nothing can beat my first television, but this is as close as it can get!

Two very distinct generations.

Muaaahhh for sentimental value!


  1. So sorry to hear about your mom's passing. May Allah bless her soul. I too felt really emotional and nearly shed tears once when the whole family moved from the house we've been living for 10 years to a new one. Loads of memories good and bad. I'm such a sentimental. I wish i could play the piano. Never had the chance to learn. Maybe my boy can fulfill this part of mama's dream...:)

  2. wahh liz....sebaknye baca pasal kisah piano tu...yeah, I sokong if u want to get a piano for aiden!

  3. Thank you both of you for your doa. It has been 8 years since my Mum passed away, but the "what if"s never quite disappear. I am actually quite 'on the fence' about getting my boy into piano. Tak macho? Was initially thinking about something less bulky as well, like a violin or guitar but then again I do miss playing the piano. Hmmm...


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