The parish council had decided to celebrate the parish feast after a gap of 6 years. Obviously it was going to be a big celebration. The church and its entire campus would receive a mop-up. A big entourage of priests would camp in the church. There would be a huge Eucharistic procession heading through the main road and the Market place. Youth from neighboring parishes would setup stalls and raise money for good causes.
It was while discussing some miscellaneous arrangements for the celebration, did someone mention a brass band. Traditionally most parish feasts would have a brass band playing for the entire course of the celebration. Normally it would be a reputed band from the city whose bill would also be of repute. But this time it was Br. Joel who insisted that Willy’s Brass band be hired for a change. Council members were speculative for not many of them knew Willy’s band, but they said alright since Br. Joel had suggested it. So when Willy heard about it after the Sunday mass, he nearly jumped with excitement.
For the next few days, Willy had nothing else in mind but the parish feast. He had roped-in two more members to his band and he collected music sheets for well known songs like ‘The bridge on River Kwai’, ‘My world’ etc. People would stop by to have a curious look at him. Word had got around so quickly that ‘Willy’s band was hired for the Parish feast’ and Willy was already a famous man. That made him even more nervous and the time appeared to run too fast.
The Parish feast was unlike what the people had seen during the past few decades. The church compound had turned into a massive fair ground and people were crowding the church since early morning. There were too many people and vehicles around the church. ‘Where have all these people come from ?’ Willy thought as he nervously buttoned his collar. He was looking handsome in his new Uniform and so were rest of his band members. They had polished their instruments so much that they were gleaming like new. ‘Willy’s Brass Band’ was all set to make it big as curious onlookers lined up around them. In the buzz of activity Willy did not fail to notice a group of youngsters with long hair pacing around the church, small whiskey bottles peeping out of their pockets.
They played with devotion. ‘Bridge on River Kwai, Saints go marching’ sounded like as if they couldn’t be played better. They were striking every note and every beat to perfection. Willy had kept some of the better songs for after the mass which he considered the ‘Prime time’. ‘People will throng over the band after the mass and then there will be no one to stop me from becoming famous’ Willy thought. And true to what he had thought, a sea of people surrounded him soon after the mass was over.
But destiny must have planned something else for him at that moment. Just when they were ready to play the next song, Willy heard what sounded like thuds from an electric drum coming from the church hall. This was followed by loud, but melodious notes from the electric guitar. It appeared the youth of the parish had hired a beat group from the city and they were doing the sound check. As the sound got louder, people started running towards the hall. Very soon their music drowned every other sound in the vicinity, including Willy’s brass band. Willy signaled his men to play, as he saw the crowd was melting away. They played their best songs with full energy, but that didn’t seem to change things for him. People were simply drawn towards the hall where, as Willy could see the same guys with long hair and guitars hanging from their shoulders were entertaining the crowds. They must have had brought powerful speakers, as the hall appeared to shake at every beat of the drum. Willy’s men did not stop. They played on and on, until evening. But they had no listeners. None at all. People who were enjoying the beat group, did not even throw a second look at the brass band. It was very embarrassing for Willy as he packed his equipment. With heavy hearts they all headed home, like fallen heroes.
Willy went on with his normal routine and tried to forget the parish feast. ‘ I am not going to let this incident pour cold water on my ambition’ he thought. He got his men together and started rehearsing with even more determination. But months passed and he saw with disdain that no one was hiring his band. On the contrary, the long haired beat group had made its entry in the village. In every wedding and other function where Willy’s band would have enjoyed the prime spot, it was the beat group which was taking the center stage. Though most people did not understand what they were playing and what they were singing, they seemed to accept them and even paid twice as what they would pay Willy. Willy could not understand the rationale behind this attitude. He was not the one who would give bad words to anybody, but he imagined what his father would have said in such a situation – ‘People have sold themselves to the whore of modernization’.
…What he didn’t notice was that as he rubbed the trumpet, it lost its dull coating, and its color turned into real gold….
The rain kept pouring. Willy felt the night was darker than any other night of that monsoon season. As he placed the trumpet back in the wooden trunk, he pondered over how his life had changed during the past 10 years, especially after that parish feast. His brass band had split and his musicians were carrying on with their own lives. Willy continued his job as caretaker and struggled to give good education to his 3 children. His mother had acquired Tuberculosis, the same disease with which his wife had died when the children were small. His son Larry had become a smart young man with a flair for singing. Br. Joel had become a priest and was transferred to a remote parish for reasons unknown. Irrespective of all these turn of events, Willy’s love for music had remained dormant. He had come up with the ultimate plan to keep the family legacy alive.
Willy had decided to send Larry to the Seminary. ‘Larry will turn many people to God, he will save drunkards from their habit’ Willy thought. ‘And he will also teach music to the poor and the illiterate’. The following morning he along with the parishioners would say goodbye to Larry. Tucked in his suitcase will be his father’s precious gift, the trumpet. Ironically, that was the only valuable thing he was going to leave for his son. As he was about to close the wooden trunk, two tears rolled down Willy’s eyes and fell on the trumpet. Willy rubbed it off with the cotton cloth and closed the trunk. What he didn’t notice was that as he rubbed the trumpet, it lost its dull coating, and its color turned into real gold.
– The end
Also read Part I:
Author: Remy DSouza- Kuwait