Waiting lounge. Central Station, Munich.
I get off the phone. A lump in my throat. Steve (not real name) just poured ice all over my dreams – no scholarships! And if any, they should all have been awarded by this time of year. I have a few days to prove that there’s a mere $80,000 sitting idly on my account or else… my place among the elite 24 will be given to another. Apparently, it’s harder to get into this school than Harvard.
An old man, almost doubled over, bloated legs, feet bursting through his slippers, gets up from the seat across and slowly makes his way towards me.
Can I offer you a coffee?
Can we go to Burger King and have a coffee?
I can also bring it here if you like.
I have only 6 Euros, but I can get us a coffee.
I decline. I am preoccupied with my sorrows and mildly thinking, “Freak! Why do these types keep coming to me?” He would be the second in the space of an hour.
You see, I wanted to tell you something small.
Earlier, you walked in and then walked away.
I saw you moving towards the escalator and was struck by how you hold yourself, your straight back and your grace.
I love how you wear your head.
He gestures at his round back.
You see me?
I cannot… But you, when I saw you walk, I played two levels better.”
He moves farther away as he speaks. It’s his way of accepting my refusal, I guess.
I am… touched? My heart is sinking from a message of doom. A stranger is inspired by how I wear my head. I wonder at what really matters in life.
Thirty minutes later, the man returns to the lounge. I am writing, because this is how I make sense of the events of my life. He murmurs,
Sorry, I forgot one thing.
Can I know your name?
Do you want to tell me your name?
Me: Do you want to know my name?
Please, would you write your name for me on a paper, because I will forget.
I wrote you a letter. It has my name on it.
“Beloved beauty…” the rough note begins.
Matthias was a doctor all his life. He is an exceptional Pianist and Master of Chess. Now at 65, he has dedicated his life to helping people become real human beings.
He shuffles to the piano. There’s no chair. He drags his heavy feet and an even heavier leather stool across the waiting lounge. He slumps down. Like a praying monk, he bows over the keys and begins to make tender magic. His audience of weary travelers is suspended in a mild trance. He caresses the last note. They start up in applause.
The tears dry from my eyes.
I wonder at life. I am fighting for my place in one of the world’s most coveted schools. A stranger is entranced by how I wear my head. He plays the piano better, because he sees me walk.
What’s more odd than this odd encounter is that it actually brings me warmth. A reminder that in the grand scheme of things, all is well. It is well.