The Sound of Music – Creative Writing
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The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music

I suffered from an ear infection when I was young, too young to remember. What I do have a memory of is the puss running out of the ear, and some of the methods used to try and stop it. One of those methods was to put a few drops of the ‘top layer’ of chicken stew into the ear. I know for sure that did not work because eventually, when my father’s younger brother, the laboratory technician, took up his first assignment at the Machakos General Hospital, I ended up staying with him and his new bride as I was attended to by doctors at the hospital. The infection cleared. The puss dried up. But one of my ears, the left one, had become permanently damaged.


And so hearing is not the sharpest of my senses. This may be why singing is not one of my strong points – indeed, even when listening to music, my attention is always drawn to the lyrics rather than the rhythm. Nevertheless, I was enthralled by The Sound of Music on the large screen, showing in Nairobi in the 1980s. It was the first time that I was watching music being harmoniously put to the most mundane of statements – a fascinating ensemble which produced a sterling percussion! The fascinating history of the Trapp family became public in 1949, when the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was published. In 1959, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse produced a stage hit musical by the name The Sound of Music. The film was produced in 1965, based on the musical. It went on to become the 3rd highest-grossing film in Canada and the USA.


In May 2018, after a visit to Vienna, Austria, I bought myself a DVD copy of The Sound of Music and watched the movie all over again, allowing myself the indulgence of accessing the Internet on tap for clarifications and additional information. Once more, I was impressed by the enchanting scenery and majestic architecture, which Google told me was baroque. I had already seen a bit of it in Vienna. Indeed, the home of Captain Von Trapp bore a striking resemblance to the Schönbrunn Palace, a former imperial residence in Vienna, complete with a pergola: a walkway fenced by metal on which cascaded the most delightful rose flowers, in bloom!


After walking through the Museums quartier in Vienna, looking at the statue of Maria Theresa, and hearing the stories about her reign, I watched, once again, as the bride in The Sound of Music walked down the aisle in that awesome Cathedral, and I fully understood why the name of the lead female character in this movie set in Salzburg, Austria, had to be Maria. Incidentally, Salzburg is the 4th most populous city in Austria. And its historic centre, Altstadt, is the birthplace of famed composer, Mozart, and a UNESCO world heritage site.


By a strange coincidence, I was in Vienna the week preceding Pentecost Sunday. By the time my workshop came to a close on Friday afternoon, pretty much everything else had also come to a close. And the holiday was to continue through Tuesday of the following week. I now know, without having to be told, that Austria is a very Catholic country. Now I know, also without having to be told, that it is a major tourist destination!


Katheu Mbithi. 2018.

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