Sunday 27 June 2021

'Thonk, Thonk' by Ravibala Shenoy

At twelve, he heard Rhapsody in Blue for the first time, and when the LP ended, he wiped a tear from his eyes. The record combined jazz and classical music. At the record store, the album cover featured a cool redhead. She wore a leotard and black fishnet tights. She perched on a grand piano, with her toes poised on G. Her straw hat sported a blue band and she held a clarinet. At that time, he had a crush on redheads. 

That summer, his mother ordered him to pull weeds. He could either pull the weeds in their yard for free or the neighbors’ weeds for money. He pooled his hard-earned weed earnings, and at the end of summer, he bought his first record. That night his heart did triple somersaults as he placed Rhapsody in Blue on the turntable in his bedroom. 

“Turn that thing off,” His mother bellowed from upstairs. 

“It’s all right, Mom,” he called back. “It’s okay, it’s okay.”

His mother shouted again. “I said turn that thing off. Or else…”

“It’s okay, it’s okay, Mom.”

His older sister stomped into the room, marched to the turntable, picked up the LP and dropped it on the floor, and without a word walked out.

In spite of the “thonk, thonk” during the piano solo where the record had been scratched, he listened to the LP hundreds of times. 

In his thirties, when he bought the CD, he was surprised by the absence of the “thonk, thonk” accompaniment. The CD cover featured no redhead. 

Sixty years after he first set eyes on the record, he pulled up the LP cover of Rhapsody in Blue on his smartphone. His heart was crushed, the redhead’s toes rested not on G, as imagined, just on C.

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