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Posted by Admin
Friday, September 02, 2005
Civilisation Amidst Chaos by Expat
Amid the desperation in New Orleans that can only be described as "hell on earth" and "apocalyptic"; amid the fires and the flooding, amid the report of rapes, robberies, beatings, and murders; amid the stench of rotting human flesh in a toxic soup; the sweet notes of Bach's Sonata No. 1 in G minor rose up and filled the malodourous air, providing comfort for those who no longer had hope.
Samuel Thompson, 34, is trying to make it as a professional violinist. He had grabbed his instrument, made in 1996 by a Boston woman, as he fled the youth hostel Sunday where he had been staying in New Orleans for the last two months.
"It's the most important thing I own," he said.
He had guarded it carefully and hadn't taken it out until Wednesday afternoon, when he was able to move from the Superdome into the New Orleans Arena, far safer accommodations. He rested the black case on a table next to a man with no legs in a wheelchair and a pile of trash and boxes, and gingerly popped open the two locks. He lifted the violin out of the red velvet encasement and held it to his neck.
Thompson closed his eyes and leaned into each stretch of the bow as he played mournfully. A woman eating crackers and sitting where a vendor typically sold pizza watched him intently. A National Guard soldier applauded quietly when the song ended, and Thompson nodded his head and began another piece, the Andante from Bach's Sonata in A minor.
Thompson's family in Charleston, S.C., has no idea where he is and whether he is alive. Thompson figures he is safe for now and will get in touch when he can. In the meantime he will play, and once in a while someone at the sports complex will manage a smile.
"These people have nothing," he said. "I have a violin. And I should play for them. They should have something."
A man, a violin, and a little civilisation admist the chaos.