Maya: It’s a cold night. The arriving patrons are dressed warmly, their breath misting in front of their faces. They congregate in small groups outside the door, talking in low voices; some cup cigarettes in hands stiff with chill, others huddle together, sharing warmth. In their twos and threes they gradually filter in. And it’s suddenly not cold in here. Every table is full, and still they keep coming- perching at the bar, lining the walls, even sitting on the floor. The murmur of conversation rises in volume as they relax. Coats are shed, gloves peeled off. The air fills with smoke and laughter.

The band saunters onstage, unheralded. The lights gradually dim, but there is no fanfare, no drum roll, no eager master- of- ceremonies. It takes a little while for the hum of talk to subside. The band wait patiently, tuning and talking quietly. And then there is silence in the room. All eyes on the stage. An atmosphere of tangible expectation.

The bass begins. A slow rumble like a distant earthquake. The piano joins without hesitation, high clear notes spiralling downwards, never quite reaching the point they fall towards. And at last the saxophone cuts through this delicate web of tune, a wailing wordless cry that raises the hair on the back of every neck in the room. The tension builds. The musicians move closer together, as if drawing a collective breath. They exhale. The bass pounds like a rapid heartbeat, the piano throws jagged shards of chords, the sax howls, whispers and hums, alternately threatening and seductive. And the rest of the world seems to disappear. There is no reality outside this room, no cold winter night or tiring day at work. There is only the music created between this moment and the next.

And I want to weep with the joy and sadness of it: to share in this music, but to know that I will never- can never- be a part of it.