Cerita Confessions № 2

In less than a month from the date of this writing, our 8th music performance event will take place. And for the 8th time, my husband and I are second-guessing our decision to keep this going.

In between events, a number of people will be encouraging us to keep doing what we do, even if all the work of a production team of 10 is done by the 2 of us. These are the people who have known and worked with my husband for any amount of time, long enough to know his talent, diligence, and passion for music.

Yet, when the time comes, when we invite people we considered to be our friends, colleagues, and good acquaintances to show a little support and watch our performance, hardly anyone is interested—including those who had been so encouraging before. For some of them, we are not even worth a reply. I for one am left feeling as though I had rung their doorbell to beg for money, and their response was to slam the door in my face without saying a single word.

Sadly, it is not just the passive performers that shut the door in our faces—for being part of the audience is being part of the performance, too—some of the virtuous music players that we ask to join in our events often play through rehearsals with deaf ears.

With the apparent disinterest from the community and our co-workers all the same, it is a small torture for us every time we endeavour to organise a music event, albeit mentally. So why do we still endure?

I would like to make it clear that it was not my idea. I am the type to quit before the going gets tough. I was the first one to tell my husband to stop doing concerts that no one cares about. But as far as I know, no one else has said anything that unkind to him; their silent and even more hurtful disagreements come in the form of double blue ticks.

In my humble opinion, the problem is that my husband's visions are far greater than anyone has been able to comprehend. A casual observer will see happy musicians playing instruments upon a stage. He sees a thriving musical society in which thousands of practitioners, craftsmen, and educators have jobs for life, whose trades are continuously passed down to the following generations. Where the economy is sustained by the booming supply and demand for music products. Where the spoils of great music spill over into people's lives and enriches them by promoting higher intelligence and awareness of the world around them.

But achieving something big starts by doing something small. If we want to spread the message of music, we first have to play it damn well. My husband has been holding on to a hope that being involved in our events would incite something not only in our audience's hearts and minds, but in the musicians' too.

Over the last 4 years, he has promised me that this would be the last time, 7 times. He knows that I am pained to watch him suffer. His agony even manifests physically on his skin in the form of psoriasis. He gains weight from the stress of being so collectively unappreciated. Again, I would have quit after the first time. But where we differ in emotional disposition, we are exactly similar in interest: we both love music.

We love how hearing this phrase played by the cellos and double basses make our hearts skip a beat:

To quote a friend: "It sounds great when I listen to a recording, but it gave me goosebumps when I heard it live for the first time and I could feel the reverberation from the instruments travel around the room and into my body."

We love how another friend who claims he cannot hold a tune can sing this melody perfectly from beginning to end:

We empathise with great local musicians who long to play good music, for the love of playing it. We wish we could reimburse the dedication of a violinist who spent hundreds of Ringgit to travel 800 kilometres every weekend in order to rehearse with us.

So, knowing that things are not going to change any time soon, do we keep going, or should we quit while we're ahead?

With the number of double blue ticks increasing each time, my optimistic husband is finally saying he has had enough. Well-meaning people have told us that they admire our noble quest and good luck with that. But as long as no one is interested in helping to spread the message of what we are fighting for, we are going to be stuck in one place indefinitely.

Originally published 2019-08-09