Sometimes certain strangers make a mark on our minds even without us having any conversation with them. Their appearance, their behaviour, talent and a myriad of other things about them may attract us to them and make us their secret admirers.
For the past few weeks, during our evening strolls by Brisbane River, Shobha and I have been observing an old, petit man playing the accordion and filling the pleasant smelling air of Brisbane with unadulterated romance. The melodious sound emanating from his accordian drew my attention sharply towards him every time I spotted him. I stood by him each time for a few seconds and appreciated his music and dropped a dollar or two into his flat cap laid on the ground. I mentioned to Shobha how much I liked him playing and how I wished to just put up a chair in front of him,close my eyes and get absorbed in the pure magic of romantic music he composed.
We saw him three times in the past three weeks: twice by the river side, and once on Edward street. There was one thing I noticed about passers-by. As they went past him, they turned towards him, smiled and walked away with a smile. Some nodded their heads while looking at him in appreciation of his music. I felt happy that he is able to see that his music was being appreciated.
Today, we saw him again by the riverside. And I admitted to Shobha that I wished to speak to him or atleast have a pic clicked with him. I dropped a dollar into his flat cap again and we sat on a platform right in front of him and watched him play the music, with the splendid Story Bridge to his back. Shobha broke into a conversation with him.
We learned his name was Jimmy McGuinness.A 65 year old Kiwi pensioner, Jimmy took to playing the accordion when he was eight. He mentioned that he has played in Wellington, Brisbane and also Ireland. Shobha found Jimmy very cute. And why not? He indeed looked cute. Down is his picture. I feel Jimmy’s distinct style of dressing is just right for the instrument he plays.Jimmy carried a small suitcase with him which contained few laminated newpapers cuttings with his picture besides other things. He was excited to show us the newspapers cuttings from New Zealand. They were nicely laminated and showed Jimmy McGuninness playing the accordion on a variety of occassions, one of which I vidly remember was Valentine’s day.
Jimmy told us that he will leave for New Zealand after a couple of days and that he won’t be back until next year. I thanked God for letting me talk to Jimmy just before he was about to leave Australia. I did not know he was going to leave before we spoke. We had seen him three times before and each time I had hoped to see him again. We met for the fourth time today. We talked. And all this happened just before he was leaving. It feels special indeed that I did not miss the chance to talk to him lest I would have been left assuming that something happened to him if I wouldn’t have spotted him again on the streets of Brisbane.
We shook hands with each other as we took his leave.It started raining slightly.Jimmy said, ‘This will pass away soon’. The rain indeed stopped soon. So did the moments of conversation with the ‘accordion player’.