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Sebastian Nicholls Bruce Musgrave AP English Language and Composition August 30, 2010 A Lost Melody I was playing

the first movement of Beethovens Moonlight Sonata and felt with each beat that the notes climbing up silently in harmony were the sound of lifeuniform, beautiful, perfectly fitting. My fingers flowed up the chords like a boat pushed by the current, and my emotions fought the flow, trying to hide upstream where they would not surface. As the notes pushed higher in the thirty-third measure, I stopped playing. I remembered the song I had composed in Rio. There is a song playing in everyone, and the worlds sonata crescendos and diminuendos with life. A part of my main melody has been silenced. My cousin woke up in the morning on June 1st, after nine years of perfect health, with a stroke. Her parents rushed her to the hospital, but nothing could be done. Once a beautiful, playful girl, now shes somewhere among the stars. I cannot stop thinking of how unfair it is that she did not get to live more, that no one will see her smile again, that I cant hug her or lift her again, that her laughter is forever silenced. The last thing Gabi wrote is a story about Gabi the Raindrop, where she decides to tan in a river, and all of a sudden, starts going up, up, and away. Up, up and away she is. And every day I think, did it have to happen? She did not deserve to die. Does anyone? I think-- Muss es sein?

I am in Rio again, two years ago, and on the sidewalk a few people look at the same thing I see through my car window; each of them is in my mind a Milan Kundera, wonderingwhat does it matter if it only happened once? I woke up on this sullen, gloomy day, and everything was so dark even the trees seemed to frown. My driver, usually a talkative guy, had an austere countenance and was especially quiet. It was drizzling lightly outside--not a single raindrop dared to make a sound. I knew it was cold before leaving my house because my driver was wearing a sweater and a jacket. He told my brother and me it was time to leave, so we descended the dark, narrow hallway of stairs into the garage. We walked carefully, holding our pant legs up to avoid getting our pants wet from the shallow puddles in the garage, then boarded the van, a silver Chevrolet Town and Country. There were only two colors for cars in Brazilblack or silver. The van made a grunting sound as it pulled up the driveway, like an ox tired of pulling its wagon. It was bullet-proof and almost twice as heavy as its motor was designed to pull. As we left the driveway, raindrops in scattered puddles seemed to be the only life on a dead road. Speed bumps produced the only color to be seen, but it was an empty yellow, like a note played by a machine. When we reached the exit of our condominium, near a little forest surrounding a big rock, something was different--there is no winter in the tropics, but the trees were colorless. We turned onto Avenue of the Americas, and traffic was denser than usual. The roads in Rio were poorly designed for transporting demands, but the flow of cars that day was especially slow. Instead of a worm on the road, there was an endless slug, intent on moving as slowly as possible. All of us knew there was probably an accident, since an excess of traffic occurred because of either construction or people who could not control their curiosity slowing down to

view firsthand the aftermath of whichever collision had taken place. Once they had satisfied their lust for knowing what did not concern them, they would speed away, if they could, until the next accident pulled their feet from the accelerator. They seemed to have an animal reflex and would stop without thinking, just to look. They turned the road into a parking lot, filled with black and silver cars, and the few glimmers of silver succumbed to the absorbing mass of black, transforming the mass of cars into an agonizing worm, desperate to squeeze through the bottleneck of nosy drivers. As we came closer to the source of this jam, my driver tried to move into the far left lane, but no car gave him space; no driver gave in. They seemed to share a conviction, spread by the air which connected themHe shall not pass. For all my talk about consideration and thinking of the greater good before the self, I should not have succumbed to the pressure suspended in the air. But a strong curiosity took over me as we approached the bottle neck. I sunk into a poisonous sea of deathly concern. I had to find the reason for the sluggish movement or my fervent thirst for knowledge would never be quenched. I opened Pandoras Box with my gluttonous interest. I only wish I had not. We approached the place where all the cars on the far right deviated to the middle lane, guided by a few cones so as not to get too close to the site of the accident. It was my turn to ride in the front that day, so I was on the right side, closest to it. I know I saw some vehicle or vehicles at the site, but I do not remember them. Those vehicle or vehicles were probably completely destroyed, and quite a sight, but what I really noticed found its way to my memory so forcibly it left space for nothing else. A man lay on the ground surrounded by a puddle of blood. Raindrops splashed in the puddle and

tainted the air momentarily with red before they receded into the rose colored pool, springing up and down smoothly as they danced to a slower rhythm and a simpler melody. They disappeared, and their remnants were just a few concentric ripples expanding the limits of a red sea. His eyes glimmered for a fleeting moment, a reflection of our silver van in his wet pupils. Three policemen carried a black tarp, like a ripped garbage bag, to cover the body. Four or five people looked on from the sidewalk. I was screaming inside, and fighting tears of agony, yet it was so absurd it almost made me laugh--the slug of traffic becoming lethargic because a few people wanted to stare death in the eyes. In fact I might not even have cared that much if I had seen it a few months earlier, with a tarp covering the body. Death had become routine; the days when newspapers announced no deaths were few. One day it was an old man looking through his hospital window who caught a stray bullet with his forehead, the next a young child in the crossfire between cops and drug dealers. Life is so ephemeral, I thought. It is, but society almost succeeded in turning me into a machine, which wouldnt care anymore if someone I never met lived or died. But I did, mostly because a friends mother had recently died, at the end of an eight-year struggle against cancer. For the last two months of her life, we took my friend and his brother, 12 and 10 year olds, to the hospital every day after school in our silver van, always listening to the same song as we took them up, a popular Colombian song in the typical, vigorous vallenato rhythm. In it the accordion lines would seem to die away, only to pick up with the same speed and life when it seemed there was no way they could continue. Their mothers strength always surprised me, as did the way she avoided most of her doctors predicted meetings with death.

Though the effects of a spreading disease were clearly visible, Mayra found a way of being full of joy until her last moment. Two months before she passed away, when doctors told her she would live only a week or two more, she dedicated a song to all her friendsla vida es un carnaval by Celia Cruz. It starts saying No, theres no need to cry, because life is a Carnival, and the rest reiterates the idea that life is mainly good though there are a few bad moments. She lived past her prescribed two weeks, and we celebrated Mothers Day with her, laughing at stand-up comedy and moving to the rhythms of Colombian songs. She always laughed and joked when all us Colombians went to visit her in the weekends. Her look of joy when her two sons entered the room was indescribable. When the doctors found the cancer had metastasized in her brain, they told her to stop treatment, because it would only make her feel weaker, and the difference it would make since she had so little time left was very small. But she continued chemotherapy and radiotherapy. If she could spend one second more next to her kids, live to see them once more, it was worth it. As I remembered Mayra and looked through my tinted window, the drivers and pedestrians looking over at a life destroyed seemed as vile as the Romans who millennia before made a spectacle of killing. How could they possibly be drawn to look at death, at a body they had never seen before, the same way animals wanting to feed eye their prey? It was the worlds sick way of satirizing my navet in believing the world was a good place. It was its way of telling me that people didnt really care about another death. It did not matter whether he was innocent or guilty, whether he had done good or bad in his life. It was another life that had faded away. Maybe in his house someone would care. What does it matter if he can die only once?

Every time I read or hear about a death of a good person I feel a piercing pain inside as I think that each one of them should have had the right to live longer, to smile again, to hug another friend, to laugh and enjoy a few moments more. Is it really so absurd to feel pain at a strangers misfortune? Every time a person dies, so too does a line of the worlds music. There is no consolation for this loss. In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.