It used to be spectacular.
It was the sort of instrument that was given pride of place in the music shop. The display lights in the store crowned it with a halo as passers-by stopped to admire its well-made form. The polished body gleamed under the lights. And anyone who saw it could swear they heard music playing, even when all was silent.
Now the varnish is cracked and flaking away. Dust has settled into the curves of its body and the copper strings are tarnished from disuse. There’s a noticeable dent on the back where some careless youth has knocked it while shaking with nerves during his first recital.
But once upon a time, it was magnificent.
The music which sprung forth from this guitar was far sweeter and more melodious than many higher-range instruments. It had played upon the stages of famous theatres and accompanied the finest orchestras in concert halls. Merry couples had waltzed to its festive songs at weddings. It had warmed the hearts of families who gathered around it at a roaring hearth, listening intently as the guitar poured out its melodies, and it had brought smiles to the ashen faces of those who passed it in the streets during the bitter heart of winter.
Children received their first lessons with this very instrument. Their small fingers had clumsily plucked the strings while their teachers watched with knowing smiles, remembering their own first taste of its magic.
The guitar grew worn from years of service.
And even as it was handed down to lowly players, seasoned musicians still admired its fine sound with their keen ears.
I unclip the clasp of its case and open the lid.
A soft strain of music floats out from the dusty compartment.
As I tenderly pick it up, I think that maybe it misses those glorious days when all were charmed by its music. I run my fingertips over the smooth curves and down the rosewood fretboard. Its body is now scarred with neglect. I wonder if it’s possible for an object to have a soul, and if it did, would its soul still exist somewhere inside that battered wooden body?
I hold the guitar in the same way my father had.
I cradle it in my arms, and begin to play the notes of a tune it had played many times before. Each note rings across the room. The vibrations from the rusted strings ripple through the air and course through my veins. My heart begins to pump more furiously. It hammers out a beat that runs alongside the melody with the force of a kick drum.
And perhaps it’s just my imagination, or maybe the sweetness of hearing a familiar song, but as I play I think I can feel its soul stirring from somewhere deep within.