The Spanish Stradivarius

The Spanish Stradivarius

A Story by Jofer Serapio
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A li'l something I cooked up during the typhoon attack.

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If there was a crime for constantly scaring cats and keeping neighbors filled with coffee in the wee hours of the winter night, I would’ve been kept in Alcatraz until the very day I decide to leave this Earth.

 

As far as I could remember, I’ve always loved playing the violin. I was no Giovanni Battista Viotti but my passion and love for the smallest instrument I’ve ever played was greater than what I expected before I ever came in contact with it. Of course, like most young violinists, I didn’t find playing the violin to be hard, even at my first try. Playing it the right way, however, was a different story.

 

I could still remember the day I almost quit. My violin wasn’t a genuine tool of music. Rather, it was a flimsy imitation of one. It had too many splinters and if not for my love of it, I would’ve fed it to the famished flames of our French hearth. That same day, fortunately, I met Francisco Valera and his Stradivarius.

 

“I was never a fan, Professor.” Francisco Valera’s only son, Antonio Francisco, was a close friend of mine ever since my short stay in France and that unforgettable Spanish summer with Cecilia and the Olivares family.

 

“Like I’ve always said,” my blond host continued with a playful smirk on his aged lips. “I am a fighter, not a musician.”

 

I had arrived in Madrid the night before where I opted to stay with an old photographer colleague of mine who, herself, had found a cozy place within the twilight-bathed Avenida de Jose Antonio. The bright lights and the metropolitan atmosphere of the Avenida reminded me a lot of night life in Thailand and Philippines.

 

Early next day, I bid my gracious hostess adieu and proceeded to hitch a ride to the familiar Valera estate in Cadiz with neither invitation nor prior engagement. It was supposed to be a grand surprise. However, with the estate surrounded by nothing else but soil and olive trees, Antonio spotted me before I had time to get myself out of the rental car. It was then clear that he had received a call just minutes before my warned arrival on his Andalusian plantation.

 

“But Papa… Well, you know.” A thoughtful smile replaced the childish smirk that had previously occupied Antonio’s blue eyes. “He loved playing the violin. What’s that thing again?”

 

“It’s a Stradivarius.” I grinned.

 

“Oh, yes, his beloved Stradivarius.”

 

The sunny afternoon was well-conceived and well-viewed on the veranda of the estate. Antonio had prepared for my visit well, even for the short time that he was given to prepare. The sultry Spanish breeze was perfect company to the paella, gazpacho and sherry wine that were laid before us. I found the setting quite homey and wished that someday, I, too, could find my peace in loving arms.

 

Men weren’t made to be emotional; Antonio seemed to live by that moniker. I missed his father and I knew he missed Francisco Valera as well, if not more so, but being the stubborn soldier that he was and still is, he’s not too fond of talking about his losses. Come to think of it, he never even talked to me about Cecilia passing away.

 

“This is Ana Corazon, my daughter.” He ushered her into our conversation my first day in their estate.

 

Ana was 8 years old. She was small for her age but she had the cutest pair of eyes I have ever seen. They were blue, just like her parents, and her hair was as wavy and as long as her mother’s.

 

“She looks a lot like Cecilia.” I smiled at her and, just like her mother, shy when she was still young, she opted to hide herself behind her father. “Where’s that fox, anyway? I haven’t seen her since I laid foot on this paradise of yours.”

 

“Cecilia’s long gone.”

 

At first, I thought Antonio meant she was away on some business she hadn’t mentioned in her letters. After reading the story his eyes feared to share, however, I came upon such a horrible truth.

 

“I’m sorry…” I loved Cecilia as much as Antonio did and the pain of her loss left a bitter aftertaste that rivaled that of my mentor’s passing.

 

“Better get some shut-eye, amigo. We’ll be doing a lot of adventuring tomorrow. Just like old times.”

 

The night before I was scheduled to leave for the coffee of Vienna, I found the Stradivarius lying in peace on one side of my room. Remembering how much my mentor loved this music, how Cecilia’s eyes would light up every time I played for her, I decided to play my last solo concert in honor of the both of them. As I played my soulful music in the middle of the summer night, I couldn’t help but let my tears flow. I was, however, smiling while those silver memories continued to grace my cheeks. I grieved and rejoiced at the same time.

 

After my piece, I was startled by a pair of blue eyes that seemed to have enjoyed the solo concert from the very start.

 

“Ana?”

 

“Grandfather loved playing the violin.” She was sitting on my doorway, dressed in nothing but pink shorts and a white undershirt.

 

“Yes, he did.” With a warm smile, I dropped the Stradivarius on one hand and the fiddle with another. “In fact, he was the one who taught me how to play.”

 

She stood up and headed straight for the side of my bed where I had began to sit. She, too, sat and began to marvel at the Stradivarius’ built.

 

“He was also my teacher.” Ana didn’t really look at me but rather she took full interest in the violin, even running her tiny fingers on its ribs.

 

She looked ever the young Cecilia, reminding me of her grandfather who would also become enthralled at the sight of gorgeous instruments.

 

“Would you then mind, if I ask you to play for my last night here with you?”

 

Ana slowly and meekly turned to me and, through my gray spectacles, I wondered if she truly knew how to play. I shouldn’t have doubted her though for once she got hold of the Stradivarius; the natural mastery of emotions I only knew with Francisco Valera suddenly came alive with his one and only granddaughter: his rightful successor and bearer of his Stradivarius.

 

She played her piece very well and without the faintest look of fatigue, she returned to me with a bashful smile reminiscent of her father, “I’m not really good.”

 

With music as our ice breaker, we ended up talking and sharing our different memories of the two we’ve badly missed. Ana was really a Valera: quiet at first glance but a great storyteller once you’ve gained her trust. Ana would often let out gasps of awe as I recounted my adventures with the violin and the music that soothed savage beasts. She finally dozed off, at two in the morning, tired of the previous day’s encounters.

 

As I lay her sleeping soundly on my bed, another pair of blue eyes startled me in my wake.

 

“Cecilia would have loved to see her daughter play the violin.” Antonio said. “Unlike me, she was a connoisseur of good music.”

 

“Unlike you, she was a good cook.”

 

We both broke into laughter.

 

For a while, I enjoyed the brief silence that we three shared. It gave me sufficient time to relax my arms and to think about how much my travels had eased the pain of living alone.

 

“Sometimes, I wish I was as strong as you.” Antonio started as he sat next to his daughter, a position I left to cater to my legs’ need to be exercised and also to return the Stradivarius to its peaceful sleep. “I could have told him how much I admired his music. I could have told Cecilia how much I really loved her. But, no. I had to be so fearful, so stupid, and so damn pigheaded.”

 

“Ana’s still here.” I blurted out as I stood, watching their family portrait with sincere enjoyment as I have had with my borrowed music.

 

“Yes, Ana’s still here.”

 

I left Cadiz alone. Antonio insisted on driving me back to Madrid but I told him it would be best if he’d stay with his sleeping daughter. After all, she needed him more than I did.

 

As for the Stradivarius, well, if Antonio calls, I’ll just tell him I left it by mistake and to keep it because I probably won’t have time left for a quick return. Hopefully, he won’t think of returning such a family heirloom.

 

The Stradivarius once belonged to Francisco Valera and in his memory, I give it back to Ana Corazon Valera. She’s a much better musician, anyway.

© 2009 Jofer Serapio


Author's Note

Jofer Serapio
How is it?

Image Disclaimer: I do not own the image included. I just found that it suited my piece so there you go. Special thanks to the original artist.

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Featured Review

Oh, very sweet story. It takes you through so many emotions, and at the same time it is both heartwarming and full of sadness. Just watch your 'evers', you have a lot.

I would've been kept in Alcatraz until the very day I DECIDE to leave this Earth.-decided
I've EVER played was greater than what I expected before I EVER came in contact with it.-2 ever
close friend of mine EVER since
well-conceived and well-viewed -2 well
I dropped the Stradivarius on one hand and the FIDDLE with another.-do you mean bow?



Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

A very entertaining story. The violin is my favorite instrument. I like the beginning. Gave life and spirit to the upcoming tale in the story. The story got stronger with the add of the lady and the grandfather. Thank you for sharing the outstanding story.
Coyote

Posted 8 Years Ago


Oh, very sweet story. It takes you through so many emotions, and at the same time it is both heartwarming and full of sadness. Just watch your 'evers', you have a lot.

I would've been kept in Alcatraz until the very day I DECIDE to leave this Earth.-decided
I've EVER played was greater than what I expected before I EVER came in contact with it.-2 ever
close friend of mine EVER since
well-conceived and well-viewed -2 well
I dropped the Stradivarius on one hand and the FIDDLE with another.-do you mean bow?



Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on July 22, 2008
Last Updated on January 19, 2009

Author

Jofer Serapio
Jofer Serapio

Paranaque City, Metro Manila, and Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines



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