Ma L’amore No
For the clueless lot, this is the name of an eponymous track sung by Lina Termini, an Italian singer-actor. It was included in the 2000 Italian movie Malena. That is when I heard it for the first time. The movie is based on the WWII era (1939-45), especially when Italy entered WWII. Oh, WWII means 2nd World War (just in case you were still scratching your head). As IMDB succinctly describes the movie, “Amidst the war climate, a teenage boy discovering himself becomes love-stricken by Malena, a beautiful woman living in a small, narrow-minded Italian town.”
One thing that fascinated me was that this movie fulfils my near-psychotic nostalgia. Somehow, I love things from the past when things were (seemingly) easy and simple. At least, that’s what it looks like, to me. I sometimes yearn to get teleported to that ‘simple’ era. When reality slaps me hard in the face, I do wake up and smell the coffee. The other thing about the movie – regarding the title – Ma L’amore No (But Love No) is the haunting melody of that song.
Since the first time I heard it, I’ve (almost) always been transported back to the ‘40s or even the ‘30s. in an eerie coincidence, my grandfather was a teenager then. Now, where did he come into the picture? All in good time. To know the reference to this emotion, one needs to read ‘Long time ago…The village Doctor’. His romance with his wife was legendary. No – not the mushy type portrayed in the movies. He was the ‘40s convent educated, yet Indian man with little to no regard for mushy romance. You read it right – romance, wife. What started with dating, ended only at his funeral (not even at her grave – she died a few years before he did).
In the twilight of their lives, the couple would sit at the veranda, looking into nothingness, speaking just a few words here and there, yet speaking volumes even with their silence. Now that’s what I call the ultimate romance – words not required. Wait a minute – what’s this blog about? Geriatric romance? Not quite. I’m getting to the point. By the way, I call it a geriatric romance because by the time I could realize their emotions, they were already septuagenarians and hence a geriatric couple.
Now let me join the dots – the hauntingly melodious song and the geriatric romance. Now, whenever I hear the song, I imagine them waltzing to that tune in the same era the movie depicts – the ‘40s. That is when they would have been in the prime of their youth. I know this sounds crazy – a quaint couple from Kerala would seem like a far cry from the erstwhile Italian lifestyle. There is still some logic to it – she was an Anglo-Indian and waltz or some form of ballroom dancing would not be new/strange to her. He went to a convent school and hence would not be ignorant about it too. It makes perfect sense to me. Even till their old age, as mentioned above – I imagine their ‘silent’ conversations with the song playing in the background on an imaginary record player. Well, ‘imagine’ would be an incorrect term – these are thoughts that flash across my mind whenever I hear the song with my eyes closed. Such was the influence the melody had on my psyche.
His old dispensary, his belongings, his romance – they all bear a trademark of a bygone era – something that sadly remains confined to the annals of history. I would be the last of my generation to have borne a silent testimony to it. The next generation is way too fast and lacks the attention span that I had as a kid. I know, this song, the melody, the romance, the nostalgia etc. will subside with me. I write this so the next generation (if they read it, that is) can understand what romance meant in the ‘40s and how it lost its glory somewhere down the timeline.
There is more I could say about that barely two-minute song and its immense impact on my psyche – but I doubt if the readers would have the energy left to endure it. So, given my readers’ well-being, I stop right here. You can thank me later.
Bye for now!!!