Aria of the Soul’s Tempests

For the whole month of August, I have the pleasure of being internet-free at home, a bondage which serves my daily fix of… well, of brain-washing, time-consuming, dumb-making, productivity-hampering, and procrastination-encouraging social media hullabaloo and what-nots. I must say, it was a nice change not to have that addiction-causing distraction accessibly about, which led to me shift my attention elsewhere, for instance, I’ve managed to finish about 14 books in this month alone. I did a couple of drawings, a painting, experimented with light and photography again, learned new things about art period and movements and artists, and at last resigned myself to re-watching my video collection of British comedy from Monty Python’s Flying Circus to Fawlty Towers, A Bit of Fry and Laurie to French and Saunders, from Hyperdrive to Miranda, then from The Catherine Tate Show to the IT Crowd.

In the words of Miranda’s TV sitcom mother, it was “such fun!”

Now while I was rummaging through my DVD collection in search for French and Saunders, I found this DVD I have had for a about as long as I’ve lived here in Cambodia. I’ve only watched it once a very long time ago, so I was pretty astounded to find it still in my possession (which I long thought I had gotten rid of). In my great joy, I immediately insert the disc in my DVD-rom drive, where not long after which orchestra began to majestically play through my speakers, and I could feel the hairs on my arms rise as the soprano started singing a tremendously beautiful rendtion of Mozart’s “Der Holle Rache” from Die Zauberflöte. What a voice! What a performer! Her name is Natalie Choquette, a real diva, and with her is an equally remarkable conductor, the maestro, Charles Dutoit!

It was real joy, a sheer pleasure to the senses to listen to their selection of broadway and opera pieces, such as “Ah! Je Veux Vivre” from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, “Summertime” from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, even the one opera piece I never really liked, “Un Bel Di” from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, which I have now grown to like very much after hearing Miss Choquette perform it. She has the perfect voice for the piece; so much un–exaggerated but heart-rending emotion emanating through her words and her melody, provoking such feelings in me that brought about uninvited tears. Imagine that!

Apart from these, she did an equally amazing performance of the “Habañera” from Bizet’s Carmen, “Mon Coeur S’ouvre a ta Voix” from Saint-Saën’s Samson et Dalila, “O Sole Mio” by Di Capua and “Nessum Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot.

It was enormously gratifying to just sit back and listen to these operatic classics, from the booming magnanimity of the orchestra to the (supposedly) glass-shattering but heavenly arias of the soprano. It’s as if my soul needed it — and how it hungered for more! What made it even more enjoyable was the dynamic interaction between maestro and soprano. Together, they’re a hilarious duo.

And speaking of the soul, I’m probably going through what Douglas Adams jokingly call, “The  Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.” This month of August proved to be a really trying month. There was a lot of adjusting to new schedules, new faces, new routines, a lot of preparation for the new school year, a lot of self-disciplining involved, a lot of pride-swallowing, humility-begging situations I would rather not speak of (and would ensure never to venture into ever again in the near future), but there was a lot of
welcome solitude as well, which pushed me to manage my time wisely, accomplish things more productively, set my focus on what really matters, and so on and so forth. But underneath all these, there goes with it a sadness hanging over me as the reality of my close friends’ departure from Cambodia within a month or so — for good — draws near. So yes, I do find that slightly devastating. But then again, not really. Right now, I am in no condition to be a people-person just yet (feigned or not). I haven’t got the energy nor the heart to, and I find myself inclined to be generally apathetic these days towards people and their – pardon my language – shit. Shaz calls it being in a ‘funk.’ It’s like being in limbo — I’m not really here, but neither am I there or anywhere else. I’m not really sad, but I’m not happy either. It’s not contentment nor complacency; neither is it depression nor bliss. I’m somewhere in between.

So yeah, I’m okay (or so I keep telling myself). But really, I am.

Or am I?

Cue “Nella Fantasia” then, please, and let the good times roll.



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