Harana

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘harana’ or ‘woo by seranading’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

The tap tap tap of Jo’s keyboard hadn’t ceased since he sat down at his desk after helping his father into bed. Even the steady glow of the alarm clock, a ghostly green reminder of work in the morning and classes of kids to manage, couldn’t tear him away from the screen. Jo hadn’t expected a quick pre-bedtime browse of search alerts to lead him to an incredible piece of music. He’s listened to it ten times over already and now it’s stuck in a looping repeat over his headphones. Uploaded anonymously a day or so earlier, it hadn’t gained much attention yet, but Jo was mesmerised.

There was an incredible wealth of emotion and skill, poured into the utilisation of the small segment of the signal that had been made public and moulded into a delicate melody. It reminded Jo of the way his heart pounded the first time he’d met Sarah Green in the staff room, the feel of sweat of his palms as he stuttered a hello. He still hadn’t asked her on a date, but maybe during the summer he would.

Jo hadn’t yet been able to track down the originator of the music, but he wanted to desperately. Not just to congratulate them, but to ask their permission; because Jo knows what the music should be used for, has known since the first time he’d listen to it.

The reply transmission, which is all anybody online seemed to be able to talk about since Breakthrough re-published their statement. It will take years to develop the technology to send a meaningful response, but there are already competitions running and government committees forming to decide how best to represent the people of earth to an alien civilisation. If Jo wanted to use the piece in his own submission then he needed to do it the right way, and that meant finding the musician to get their permission.

The task might be a little tricky, but Jo had already managed to mobilise a couple of the message boards he subscribed to and by morning there might be thousands, hundreds of thousands or more. The bonus of course was that it also meant he could get more people listening to the music and it filled Jo’s body with warmth to imagine how many others might be brought together by something so skilled, shared on the most important communication tool of the modern age. A sleepless night seemed a small price to pay, but maybe he’d regret it by the time period four rolled around. Either way, it would be a problem for the morning and Jo still had forums to alert.

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