Summer 2023, California
It was a lovely Sunday afternoon. The sun shone brightly and the ocean breeze had enticed most of the neighbourhood to come out onto the lawns with their martinis. One could hear excited squeals from children as they cycled up and down the street.
Inside the house, the tracks from the movie Philadelphia was playing. As La Momma Morta started to play he got up and raised the volume to full. The soulful aria of Maria Callas echoed across the living room.
La mamma morta m’hanno (They have my dead mother)
Alla porta della stanza mia (At the door of my room)
Moriva e mi salvava (She died and saved me)
The haunting memory of the song brought back the aching pain of his loss.
Bruciava il loco di mia culla (The place of my cradle burned)
Così fui sola (So I was alone)
E intorno il nulla (And around nothing)
Fame e miseria (Hunger and misery)
Il bisogno, il periglio (The need, the danger)
Caddi malata (I fell ill)
He closed his eyes internalizing the loneliness and suffering of lady Maddalena after her house was burned down during the French revolution.
Fu in quel dolore (It was in that pain)
Che a me venne l’amor (That love came to me)
Voce piena d’armonia e dice (Voice full of harmony and says)
Vivi ancora (You still live)
Io son la vita (I am life)
The tempo of the song began to pick up. He went up to her and bowed, ‘Can we dance this waltz, my lady?’
She laughed. ‘It’s an opera. I can’t dance to this.’
Even then she got up and took his extended hand. ‘But how can I refuse? I don’t know if I will ever see you again.’
‘You will, I promise.’ He lied. ‘You have returned me from the depths of my despair and now I have to continue my journey.’
‘Where will you go now?’
He smiled. ‘To places I am supposed to… but never have been.’
Le lacrime tue io le raccolgon (I collect your tears)
Io sto sul mio cammino e ti sorreggo ( I stand on my path and I support you)
Sorridi e spera! (Smile and hope!)
Io son l’amore! (I am love!)
The meaning of the words was not lost on him. He held her close. Her breath had the freshness of the mountain breezes he had experienced in his travels.
Io son divino! (I am divine!)
Io son l’oblio! (I am oblivion!)
Io sono il dio che sovra il mondo (I am the god over the world)
Scendo da l’empireo, fa della terra (I come down from the empyrean, make of the earth)
Un ciel! (A heaven!)
Io son l’amore, io son l’amor, l’amor (I am love, I am love, love)
The song reached it’s crescendo and ended.
He came out of his reverie and looked at her. She was laughing. Deep in her eyes, he thought he saw her nod. His lips gently touched hers. They tasted of fresh oranges she had mixed with her drink. Time stood still; the pressure on the lips increasing as the embrace became tighter.
All of a sudden the next song began to play…*
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Artwork courtesy: yellow_kettle_illustrations