The Maestro

by Hisham Bustani

translated by Thoraya El-Rayyes

The musicians finished playing the symphony. They stood up and bowed before the eagerly clapping audience, then started collecting their instruments. Only the conductor was still troubled. Still agitated. Still tapping his baton against his hand nervously.

I am not yet finished, he said to himself.

I am not yet finished, and little by little batches of people withdrew from the auditorium – their chattering voices getting louder.

I am not yet finished, and clanging instruments returned to their cases disturbing the background.

I am not yet finished, and the piano player smiled at the cymbalist – they were about to go on a date.

I am not yet finished, and he looked at the pages before him – the music still falling from them.

Alone, he stayed behind after they all left and when he lifted his baton he heard the opera house walls collapse – its paintings, mouldings, balconies. He heard high, sweeping waves breaking over the chairs spread out before him.

He waved his baton and sent storms spinning.

Tilted it right so that lightning flashed and thunder struck.

Tilted it left so that rain hammered down.

When the Maestro stretched out his baton over the middle, the music divided to open a path for him and so he walked. And when he reached the other bank, the music closed behind him.

He pointed at the middle again, and returned.

Returned to his podium, collected his papers and exited through the backdoor mumbling:

I am not yet finished.