There is always music playing in the metro stations in Brussels. You hear it as you descend the escalator from the street, and it follows you through the pedestrian tunnels to the platform, from speakers concealed in the ceiling. It's only broken by the rush of an oncoming train, or occasionally by a lone accordion player crouched against the wall.
The music I remember hearing was some kind of ambient electronica beat. It's almost unnoticeable until you find yourself standing shoulder to shoulder among strangers in silent anticipation of your train's arrival.
The subway station we used during our November stay in Brussels was two stops outbound from Maelbeek. We rode through Maelbeek the few times we went to the city center before deciding to avoid public transportation during the city's lockdown, as local officials searched the city for the sole surviving suspect in the Paris attacks (he was finally apprehended just four days ago).
When I first noticed the music, it was in this context of dull uncertain fear, and suspicion of everyone on the platform around us. The music cut through the tense silence between strangers. It gave a kind of uplifting peacefulness, with its reassurance that even in the most troubling times, there can be music.
We hope that the victims of this morning's attacks in Maelbeek and at the Brussels Airport found peace in their final moments, that those who were injured find it soon, and that it isn't long before the music in Maelbeek plays again.
Note: Our friends who live in the area have let us know that they were unharmed.