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The Busker in Lille

Hello there, I’m a busker. Financial guy by day, busker by night. I sing and play the guitar.

People think us folks who sing on the street are poor and have no other means to live. They are terribly mistaken. Music is my passion and reason for existence. Instead of opting for a full time opportunity I took the route most musicians take. I got a regular job to be part of a regular society. I work for a big corporation as a payroll specialist. This means that I am the guy who gives salary to people on time. I try my best to make the world of numbers and the world of music merge. Yet something was amiss.

I live in Lille, a city in Northern France. It’s a university town so you see students everywhere. They are so full of life and energy.

I make a decent amount of money, but when I am busking I pretend I don’t. It makes things way more interesting.

Today is Christmas Eve in Lille. My usual busking spot is right in front of the Opera house. It’s completely lit up. A Christmas tree sits right in the middle of the Lille town centre. Couples are holding hands. Some young kids are drunk out of their minds.

I saw an Opera staged once right here. It was a contemporary Opera with a dark theme. Two lovers weren’t able to unite because of family differences. In the end they both sacrificed their lives. A modern twist on Romeo and Juliet.

I am not married yet, but I do have someone I love. She is a professional violinist. She sees me busking whenever possible. This time, however, she has gone home for Christmas to Paris so I am all alone.

I play classics; The Beetles, Elvis, Elton John – you name it. If I play for around four to five hours I usually make ten euros. I buy myself a pastry with that from Paul the bakery right next to the Lille bookshop.

Today I make less than usual, even though it’s Christmas. A young couple asks me to play a Sam Smith song. They give me two euros. An old woman tells me I am a nuisance and to go home. Another middle-aged man gives me a euro and a piece of bread. Another married couple request a song for their children and give me one euro. It’s amazing how people just don’t value music, and above all, don’t value a human enough to give them some spare change. The feeling that there was something amiss becomes even stronger.

It’s freezing outside, so I decide to play the last song and pack up for the night.

Then something peculiar happens.

A very old man approaches me, he is holding a guitar case.

“Merry Christmas my friend.” He says.

“Same to you sir. How goes your Christmas?” I ask.

“Not too good, I’ve been homeless for many years. My sons and daughters abandoned me because of old age. The one thing I always loved since childhood is playing the guitar. My music never abandoned me so I often play on the streets.  I get by though, I scrape in one meal a day somehow. Today’s a particularly horrible day. My dog who was my best friend died today because of the cold.” He starts tearing up. “I made around ten euros today. I was going to buy bread and give it to my dog, but he isn’t there anymore. You look like you need it sir. I also love the way you play the guitar, you have the same passion for it as I do. Here you go, it’s all I have.”

He places ten euros in my guitar case.

This man who had nothing gave me all he had. I compare him to the others who had everything yet spared nothing. I felt a spark ignite within me.

I take the ten Euros.

“Wait here please.” I tell him.

I go to Paul and buy two pastries in the shape of a Christmas tree.

“Can we please perform together in the future? You can even stay at my place.” I say

“Your place? You have a place?” he asks

“Yes, it’s a decent place. Big enough for two music lovers for sure.” I say.

“Surely I can’t.” he says.

“But you must. You see, today I have been feeling very low. But the moment you offered me those ten euros something magical happened. For the first time in many years I felt full, complete. I have tried hard to be a corporate individual with music as a hobby. But today I realized that music is my passion. Work with me sir. Let’s aim to perform at the Opera House one day.” I explain.

And so began a beautiful partnership.

A year later Edwardo, the person I met last Christmas, and I have released our first album. Our debut show is to be held at Opera De Lille. We got a dog together, and Christine, my soon to be wife, has moved in with us.

Before we performed we ate pastries from Paul bakery.

Source of Keychain: Lille Europe station in Lille. 

This is a work of fiction.

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