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The piano tuner is a classic novel, professionally written by Daniel Mason, when he was still a student at Harvard University. The book has a setting of the year eighteen hundred, when colonialism was still widespread, and all powerful countries were struggling to expand their colonial territories everywhere in the world, and especially in the African countries. The novel is about a middle age man, Edgar Drake, a professional piano tuner who resides in London, a city in the United Kingdom. Edgar gets assigned by the military during his time for a mission to Burma, a far off the land in the East. This mission is an exceptional one for his country and the Queen.
leaves his wife Katherine in London to depart for Burma. Katherine is encouraging him to go as this would be a fabulous adventure for Edgar. Edgar's mission is to tune the grand piano that belongs to Antony Carroll, an army surgeon in the British Empire at Burma. This grand piano gets transportation through the forest with a lot of struggles by the soldiers to his fortress that also acted as a medical camp. This piano is from the prince of the tribes of Burma. Antony Carroll is an ardent lover of music. He intends to use music to help to collaborate with some of the leaders of the Burma people so that the British would be able to expand their territory.
In this novel, Daniel Mason gives details of travel by Edgar and his encounters in the terrifying journey to Burma. He tells of Edgar's encounter with the man with one story. This man claims to have an experience with deafness after a certain witch made him deaf by the words of her song. There is also an animal attack they face along the way and these experiences thrill any person who reads this novel. After the long, tedious and torturous journey through the sea, valleys, jungles and hills, Edgar finally arrives to the fortress. He is in the hands of Antony Carroll and is to embark on the reason that brought him to Burma.
Edgar falls in love with the nature and the environment of Burma He also falls in love with the assistant of the surgeon, Khin Myo. Edgar declares his feelings to Khin Myo. He says “This (referring to his undying love for the beautiful Khin Myo) expects too much of a piano tuner”. Even after Edgar finishes the job that brought him to Burma, he still does not feel like going back home. He gets lots of intrigue from life in Burma and wants to stick around some more.
The eccentric surgeon, Antony Carroll, later does face numerous accusations. Some people say that Antony Carroll is a French spy. Others say that Antony Carroll is a spy for the Russians and some just put out the rumor that Antony Carroll is a traitor to the British government.
Edgar stands up against the territorial rule and faces destruction by the government. This is sad and unexpected ending of the story. Most of the readers expect a happy ending but not the harsh reality of life and the possibility of the real life situation. The piano gets a toss into the river and is “played” by the rains and the waters. The sad ending for Edgar should have been otherwise. The following is an alternative ending for the novel.
Edgar takes another look at his executioners. His eyes teary, a sign of exhaustion and desperation. For a moment, he was wishing that he had not come to Burma. If only he takes times to listen to his inner self, to make sound judgment and forget for a moment that he is going to face death. With all the hope gone, Edgar takes a death breath. He waits for his death. The weather was the least of his concerns. “Soldiers……… Aim…..FIRE!”
Edgar tried to feel his arms. The good memories of his life flashed through his head. Then he hears a voice from far. The vice is familiar. He hears his name is a low voice. He tries opening his eyes. The vision is blurry and he strains his eyes. As Edgar staggers to his knees, he sees Khin Myo. Her beauty dazzles him. He is now sure that he is dead and thanks God at least that is his last view. Edgar then feels a touch on his shoulders. He realizes that he is not hallucinating. It is real. He is still breathing.
Khin Myo picks him up. They run out of the camp as Edgar still tries to come to terms with the events taking place at the time. Khin Myo explains to him what is taking place. Some soldiers and she were saving him. They decided to go against the army and the colonial government to rescue Edgar who would have been dead by this time. Edgar still cannot believe it. He is so grateful that he is not dead. However, Edgar does not know what to do next. Should he stay around and fight the colonial government or go back to London back to his life?
Edgar remembers his former life that was simple and quite in London as a piano tuner. Both Edgar and Khin Myo run through the forest. The rays of the sun make the beauty of the land of the Burma conspicuous. The cool nature, the roaring of the river, the charming of the sweet melodies of the birds of the air rejuvenates life inside Edgar. They run along faster and faster. Finally, Edgar makes a decision. He will go back to London. Khin Myo asks is he will take her with him. Edgar is between a rock and a hard place. He owes Khin Myo for saving him but how will life be with her in London? Will his wife Katherine still be waiting for him?
On the ship, Edgar hides in loads of luggage. He is a fugitive and must not be seen by anyone in the public. The voyage is long and tiring. Edgar thinks of Khin Myo that he has left behind. He feels guilty for not letting her come with him. Edgar knows in his heart that Khin Myo’s life is in danger. If the soldiers arrest her, she will face the same fate as the other deserters. She faces a shooting range in a public field. Edgar intends to keep his promise. He intends to come back to Burma. This time is not as an ordinary piano tuner but as a warrior ready to fight for independence and freedom of the people.
As the ship docks in London, Edgar can feel the breeze of the sea. The cool scent of the western world made him feel glad to be home. This is not the kind of welcome that he had in his imagination that he will receive. What he does not know is that there is more distressing news is waiting for him. When he gets to his former home, he finds the house lonely. It seems like no one has been there for a long time. Then he feels a tap on his back. He turns quickly only to see Rosalina, the old widow who lived next door. She informs Edgar that Katherine had remarried.
All hope that Edgar was carrying in his heart disappears into the thin air. He feels desperate and stupid. It is time to make another decision I his life. Just as Edgar is contemplating on what to do, he hears a familiar voice. He assumes he is dreaming and does not turn around. After a touch on his shoulder he finally turns his head. “Khin what are you doing here?” With a smile on her face, she says “there is no way I could leave you”.
They hug and embrace each other. The emotional moment is just too heavy for both them. They stay silent for a long time, and Edgar finally break the silence. He looks into Khin Myo’s deep blue eyes with a lot of passion and affection. The holds her tiny and lovely hands in his and says “it's time for us to change the world”.