LOLA GOT’S LUTONG BAHAY IN AMERICA: Rusalka

HENDERSON, Nevada (MindaNews / 2 March) – Yesterday was Trump’s first speech at the joint Congress. We tried to stay and listen to his words and promises, his criticisms and finger-pointing, even the “trivializing” of the serious concerns of the democratic side of the isle. However much we disliked the commercial breaks when we were watching our favorite shows (Taboo for example), Mr. Trump’s being the duly elected President of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, interrupting the President’s speech for a commercial break was simply not done. Even so, an ad would have been a relief, especially in-between the most obvious fake narratives he was being praised for. It was making our anxiety move a notch further up, even if he was speaking in an uncharacteristically calm manner, which we thought was a notable act. He was being an adult at least. But, we still had to switch channels. Because, making myself a cup of chamomile tea did not help. Instead, we caught the tail end of the X-Men: First Class movie, and reveled in the cathartic effect of the destruction and chaos the mutants caused in their attempt to save human lives.

We do not forget, however, to keep ourselves in touch with the realities that seem to escape what they call here, The Trump World or the Trump Universe. The pundits and analysts in political news shows mock and laugh and put the actions and words of this man down. We assume that they are all trying to put it out there that Mr. Trump is not the president they want, representing the Great American Nation in the global community, an orange clown, a buffoon…. a man not worthy of their respect because they think he does not represent real American values.

The fact is, he was elected. Even if it was by a majority vote in the Electoral College rather than by popular vote. Even if he dissed America in favor of Russia. Even when he continues to keep the mystery of his taxes close to his chest. Like a playing card, lest it be known that he has a joker rather than an ace.

Mr. Frazier, our constant companion, has, in numerous occasions felt put upon by our negative responses to the new American president. He did not vote for Trump. But even when we sometimes cannot hold our tongue on some issue or other, he does remind us that this is how democracy works; that however much we dislike the outcome, it must be given due respect.

Which brings us to Dvorak’s Rusalka. This is a classical opera in Czech. The Little Mermaid’s story that is not given a “happy-ever-after” ending, as in most fairy tales we know. But, instead, a grim tragedy of loss and alienation and heartbreak, caused simply by the mermaid’s (Rusalka) dogged desire to have legs like a human. Feel the love of a human. A prince who she sees hunting in the woods.

Rusalka gets what she wants, but at the cost of losing her voice. The witch Jezibaba, whose potion gave her her legs, also warns her that if she is betrayed …” she will be damned and the man she loves will die.” (excerpt from the program) The Prince falls under her spell, but cannot communicate herself to him, that although she looks human, she is not fully human. This drives the Prince to another woman, a Red Princess, who easily gives in to the challenge of a rivalry with Rusalka’s silence.

She is heartbroken. Runs back to the water, but is rejected. She wanders the woods in despair. The Prince looks for her, finds her, but dies with the one kiss they share. She is bereft and alone.

It was a four-hour opera, but did not even feel like one. Unlike Mr. Trump’s next four years, it is already feeling like it’s been too long. You keep asking yourself, “When will this madness stop!”

Rusalka’s father had warned her of her desire to have legs to be able to walk and be human. Being human needed more than legs to walk the earthy paths, she found out soon enough. And, not unlike Mr. Trump, quickly sees that she is in over her head. That the “feelings” of love was not enough to smooth over her ignorance of the nuances of what being human was all about.

Ignorance of the facts do not excuse the consequences of uncensored impulses. Rusalka’s self-involvement may not have rippled beyond her milieu, but was just as harmful. And, the very difference that separates the enormity of Mr. Trump’s self-involved “entertainment factor” kind of governing may, inevitably, meet its own tragic ending. But, at what consequence to the world outside of his, and the United States for that matter.

We continue to have hope, in these very troubling times. As Mr. Frazier has always assured me, “This is America.” Indeed, it is.

And, Rusalka is just a fairytale, and Czech, after all.

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Margot Marfori is an author and visual artist from Davao City. She is currently based in Henderson, Nevada.)

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