“We all live our lives oblivious to the trials and tribulations of those around us. When next you see a soul sitting alone remember that and maybe offer an ear. You will surely help them and you may learn something amazing!”
The Humanitarian Erhu Player
Day on day. Month on month the aging gentleman filled the park with soulful notes from the python-skinned Erhu. The Chinese two stringed violin or fiddle seemed to sing with bliss in his skilful hands.
He played without a smile. No sparkle enlivened his eyes. Though passers-by nodded to him, none left so much as a Fen – a Chinese penny. Undeterred he continued to play every day come rain or shine.
Li Xiu was the exception. She always put a few Yuan in his collection box. Each day she and the Erhu player exchange a nod and a smile and then she’d continue on her way. Every day her desire to know more about him grew until she knew she had to speak to him.
This morning, Li Xiu arrived beside his shopping trolley and deposited her couple of Yuan notes as always.
The gentleman nodded and smiled.
“Good morning, I’m Li Xiu. May I know your name?” she asked tentatively.
Again, he nodded. “I am Liang. Nice to meet you, Li Xiu,” he said without stopping the bow strumming the strings of his instrument.
Li Xiu pressed her palms together. “It’s nice to meet you, Liang.” She gave a slight bow. “I love your music. I wondered why you play here every day? The shopping centre might make you more money.”
Liang nodded slowly. “Yes, lots of money over there. I play not for money but for humanity.”
“Really? What about the money I give you?”
“The children’s home across the street is very grateful,” Liang smiled. “You are a very kindred spirit.”
“Thank you. So, you play to help the children?” Li Xiu smiled at a passer-by who left no money as he carried on through the park.
“The children benefit which pleases me greatly. However, they are not the reason I must play the Erhu every day,” he explained again without pausing his mournful tune.
Li Xiu felt her eyebrows furrowing. She could see the callouses on his fingertips from the months of stopping the strings as he played. “Then, why do you play? Please tell me?”
Liang began to study her.
For a long moment, only the music hung between them.
Li Xiu opened her mouth to speak again and noticed the change within him. His demeanour softened a little began to nod his head as if he’d reached a decision.
“Okay, I’ll show you. But you must never tell a single soul.” Liang looked about him and then stopped playing for the first time. “Watch,” he said pointing his bow to the lawn in front of him.
Li Xiu followed his instructions.
An electric blue light appeared like a thin jagged slash through the air. With a pulsing nature about it, the slash began to widen.
“What is this?” Li Xiu said with fear growing deep within her. An acrid burning smell began assaulting her nostrils.
The split was now a shimmering blue hole. White Smoke had begun to gush from within it.
“Interdimensional rift. So long as I play here the rift remains closed. Should I stop even for ten minutes …” Liang nodded to the rift.
Li Xiu watched a long green arm emerge. Great, black hooked claws seemed to grab the edges of the pulsing rift. An unearthly creature was trying to pull itself through.
Liang began to play again. The music from his Erhu turned the pulsing, blue rift black. The air seemed the crackle and then the rift slammed shut. Leaving the bleeding, disarticulated alien arm lying on the lawn. “Now, you see why I must play every day.”
“I see it but I’m not sure I believe it!” Li Xiu watched the arm dissolved into the grass and vanish as if it had never been. “Is anybody trying to permanently shut rift?”
“Indeed, many scientists are working on the problem. For now, my music is the only thing that works. And so, here I am playing from dawn till dusk every day.”
“Then the portal doesn’t open at night?”
Liang grinned, “Sure it does. My brother plays from dusk until dawn.”
“I see. I wish you luck in finding an answer soon. I thank you for keeping us safe until such time as this can be permanently closed.”
Liang nodded, “The pleasure’s all mine. Thanks again for your donations to the children.”
Li Xiu smiled at him and went on her way. In that moment she learned never to judge a situation based on what she could see. The universe works in mysterious ways. An interdimensional portal was most mysterious way she’d ever seen.
Have a great day!