It started as a muffled sound, as if half formed, not yet ready to reveal itself. As I drew closer to the house, however, the sound slowly, tentatively, began to grow bolder. The mid-day sun was at its highest point and life in the village had retreated to the shadows. With every step my feet clung to the heavy, red mud underneath, a product of the night’s rain, soon to be all dried up by the beating sun, ready to start the process anew the following day.
The sound now filled the silent, thick air. It was a sound that naturally pulls you in and makes you long to hear more. I stood in front of the house, alone on the pathway, now fully aware that the sound was the skillful plucking of a guitar. The notes, plucked individually, came together so cohesively and so beautifully that I couldn’t leave until I had heard more. And suddenly it stopped. Cut short as if it too wanted to retreat to the refuge of the shadows. Just as I had given up on hearing it again the heavy wooden door creaked open and the bare-chested, bearded man behind the plucking stepped out, guitar in hand, and took his spot on a small wooden stool on his porch. He saw me, smiled, and slowly the sound returned, once again filling the oppressive silence.
Lacking a pick, the man strummed with a broken hair comb. His guitar, far from a thing of beauty, was battered and chipped and for a capo he used a piece of wood tied to the neck with some string. Upon closer inspection, he was even playing the guitar upside down, a necessity more than a style, caused by being left handed and only having a right handed guitar.
A more perfect reflection of life in the village couldn’t be found.
As I sat down in the shade of his porch and he continued to strum his broken, upside down guitar, the sound not only filled our ears but our souls as well. You could have seen it in our faces.
As the sun continued to shine, drying the mud and bringing us closer to another night time rain, it struck me that to hear such a sound, such a melody and such a rhythm come from such an unlikely source, was almost as beautiful as the sound itself. Who, upon seeing that man and his guitar, would have thought the two could produce such a feeling of peace and contentment, there on that porch in the hot sun?
And with that sudden thought the world around me became more beautiful than it had ever been, transformed by that sound that showed me once again that there is absolute beauty in everything we see and hear, even a broken, upside down guitar.