Kalimbaba wandered
from place to place
and from space to space

 He traveled with little money,
never knowing
where he would eat or sleep

 As the sun approached its zenith,
he arrived in a new village
He walked to the square,
sat down on a bench
and in silence observed
what was going on
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Some birds landed
in a tree nearby
and began to sing
Kalimbaba listened to their song
for about half an hour,
and then he took out his kalimba
and began to play

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The birds listened
for a while
and then they took off,
only to return soon
with gifts in their beaks
They brought a key
and a dark blue feather

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Kalimbaba thanked the birds
for their songs
and for their gifts,
and he offered them some sunflower seeds
Then he placed the key in a pocket,
put the feather in his hair
and set off on a walk
around the village

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 An old café
in a quiet corner of the village
called to him,
so Kalimbaba went in and sat down

 There were a few low wooden tables
and some soft purple cushions,
silence streamed
from the stereo speakers,
and a painting reminiscent
of Picasso’s blue period
hung on a wall

 Simple and elegant,
an oasis of calm,
the café was a place
where a few vagabonds
and some of the local characters
to drink tea quietly,
speak mindfully
and enjoy moments
of silence

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Kalimbaba asked for a pot of tea
and then observed the scene

 The tea arrived
after a while

and it was excellent

 After he had
a few cups of tea,
Kalimbaba took out his kalimba
and began to play

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Your music is very soothing,
said a man at another table                    

 When I listen
to you play,
my mind withdraws
and thought subsides,
said another

 I have plenty of room for guests
If you need a place
to rest and sleep,
you are welcome to stay in my home
offered an old woman

 Your coat looks a bit threadbare, brother
I have more than I need
Come by sometime and choose one

 Thank you, friends

 Try this pie,
said the owner of the café
The plums are from a tree out back

 It’s delicious
Thank you

 Kalimbaba ate
the piece of plum pie
savoring each bite

 And then he began to play

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Your money is no good here,
said the owner
when Kalimbaba tried to pay
for the tea and the pie
Come again anytime
Your music is medicine
and we’d love to hear you play again

 Thank you, friend
Kalimbaba then took a beautiful seed
out of his seed pouch
and offered it to the owner

 Plant this seed
in a place that gets lots of sun
and soon you’ll have plenty of shade,
beautiful flowers
and delicious fruit

 Thank you

 And so it went
wherever he traveled:
When people listened to his music,
their hearts would open
and they would give
whatever they had
that they felt he could use:
a coat, an old guitar or a meal,
a smile
or simply a gentle presence

 And once he was offered
a bit of land
Some villagers built for him a dwelling,
planted some fruit trees, flowers and a garden nearby
and told him that this could be his home
whenever he was around

 Come with me,
said a girl
There’s something I’d like to show you

 And so they left the café
and walked
to where a spider was weaving
a sublime web

 It’s beautiful
Thank you
for showing it to me

 And then they watched
as the spider wove
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Can you show me the way
to the old woman’s home?

 She’s my grandmother
I’ll take you to her place

 And then they walked
to the grandmother’s home
in silence,
listening to the birds sing
along the way

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 It’s a beautiful room
Thank you

 I have more rooms than I need
You are welcome to stay
as long as you like
And in the room across the hall,
the one with the purple door,
you’ll find some old instruments
that haven’t been played in a long time
Feel free to have a look
and take anything you like

 Thank you, ma’am

 The two women then left Kalimbaba alone,
and he went about creating an altar
with some pretty stones and pine cones,
some feathers and flowers
and a few other things
that he had found in nature
along the way

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The girl had come up for a visit
while Kalimbaba was having a look

at the musical instruments

 There are some very nice instruments here,
he said

 They belonged to my uncle
Nobody plays them now
I’m sure they would love to be played again

 These djembes are beautiful

 My uncle used to play them for my grandmother
She loves to dance,
especially to the sound of drumming

 Do you play an instrument?

 I play the piano
We have one downstairs in the music room
And I play the violin

 The violin and the djembe
go very well together

 Shall we play tonight
at the café?

 I’d love to

 My grandmother is preparing dinner now
I’m going to go and help her
Please join us in about half an hour
Afterwards we’ll go to the café

 I’ll be down soon

 And then Kalimbaba continued
to look at all the instruments
and chose a few to bring along
to the café

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Dinner was delicious
Thank you
I also enjoy cooking
Perhaps tomorrow
you’ll let me cook for you

 With pleasure
Our kitchen is open
to all who like to cook
Let’s head down to the café

 And so Kalimbaba, the grandmother and the girl
gathered their instruments
and headed down to the village

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 This tea is excellent

 It’s my grandmother’s secret blend
She has a large collection
of herbs that she’s gathered,
and whenever we come here,
she brings a special mix
made just for that particular evening
to share with everyone
Your grandmother is pretty cool

 Shall we play?


 Kalimbaba then took out two djembes
and began to quietly play
one of his favorite rhythms

 The girl took a seat at the piano
and soon began
to play as well

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 Someone had begun to sing Thumbakkam
and a few others had joined him
Then the grandmother got up
and began to dance
and soon a few others
were dancing as well

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Kalimababa and the girl
began to play louder
and faster,
and the dancers flowed
with the rhythm

 The singers continued to chant

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 and eventually everyone in the café
was singing and dancing

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The musicians began to play slowly
and quietly again,
as slowly and quietly as possible,
and everyone sang

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 for a while 

♫ ♫ ♫