Today, I am home. Not home-London, but home-home – Sofia, Bulgaria. I have spent a full 24 hours here and already, I feel recharged. This beautiful piano above is my best friend. Well, the best among those that can’t talk. I still haven’t been able to afford to get one in London and this is why, every time I come home, I can’t stay away. I have lost it all of course, my technique, the speed, the agility of my fingers and yet, every time I sit down before my piano, I can feel them all, like old memories resurfacing to the ground.
I remember Casablanca and Boulevard Ghandi bordered by its tall palm trees. I remember Madame Boyer, the best piano teacher that you will ever find. The school with its six rooms and doors that had windows in the shape of a lyre. The sweet dissonance that echoed in the main hall. And above all, I remember the white Yamaha. The Grand Piano of our dreams. The land to fight for.
When there is nothing else that can be done, when not even words can pull me up, there is music.
Those days were punctuated by early weekend mornings, spent racing to school, hoping to reach the white Yamaha first, sit down and watch the sun rise as my fingers warmed up on the sacred keyboard that we grew up with. The moment we left Morocco was the moment something broke inside of me, nothing irreparable, but enough to stop my will to play.
I found a teacher here in Sofia but soon realised she would never compare. At the time, I thought it was the teacher – I was a stubborn teenager, attached to a cherished past and it would be Madame Boyer or nothing! But when I think back, I get the feeling it was a form of protest. A protest against the unfairness of life and the distance that had settled in between my childhood and budding adulthood. A protest against change.
Today, I don’t regret any of it. As I have said before, there were many turning points in my life and many options – becoming a concert artist was one of them. But I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and if moving from Casablanca meant that I no longer wanted to be a pianist, then I was no longer meant to be one.
And yet, beyond “what we are supposed to become” remains a passion, a strong bond to music that will never fade. Above all the rules, remains my true self, guided by the mood of a song and the impalpable influence one single note can have on me.
[ The Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 by Frank Liszt at the start of this post is a living proof. It is a piece that I have sight-read and learnt on my own, after many years of ‘no practice’. And this perseverance was not driven by neither career choices nor rules. It was driven by passion. ]