As he was starting out in the River Company of the Caribbean and writing letters free of charge in the Arcade of the Scribes, the friends of Florentino Ariza’s youth were certain that they were slowly losing him beyond recall. And they were right. When he returned from his voyage along the river, he still saw some of them in the hope of dimming the memory of Fermina Daza, he played billiards with them, he went to their dances, he allowed himself to do everything he thought would help him to become the man he had once been. Later, when Uncle Leo XII took him on as an employee, he played dominoes with his officemates in the Commercial Club, and they began to accept him as one of their own when he spoke to them of nothing but the navigation company, which he did not call by its complete name but by its initials: the R.C.C. He even changed the way he ate. As indifferent and irregular as he had been until then regarding food, that was how habitual and austere he became until the end of his days: a large cup of black coffee for breakfast, a slice of poached fish with white rice for lunch, a cup of café con leche and a piece of cheese before going to bed. He drank black coffee at any hour, anywhere, under any circumstances, as many as thirty little cups a day: a brew like crude oil which he preferred to prepare himself and which he always kept near at hand in a thermos. He was another person, despite his firm decision and anguished efforts to continue to be the same man he had been before his mortal encounter with love.
The truth is that he was never the same again.
–Love in the time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Wow. And I feel that is so true not just to Florentino Ariza but also to anyone or anybody who loves or have loved someone.
Years ago, 2003 to be exact, I bought this VCD copy of the movie Serendipity starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. A romantic-comedy movie that made me smile, watch, listen, amuse, and cry… because of laughter. If you love films and you wanna remember how beautiful life is, watch Serendipity.
I mentioned this because in that movie, there was a book that became instrumental to the love story of the two lead characters. Your guess is right, it was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love in the time of Cholera. The story was this: Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) happened to be just customers inside a mall both looking for a black hand glove. They both saw one remaining black hand glove and when each of them decided to grab it, it happened at the same time that it resulted to seconds of tug-of-war. There was a brief “discussion” over it and being a gentleman, Jonathan gave way to this attractive woman he was talking with. Indebted for his kind gesture (and in the same way attracted to this kind guy she just met), she treated him to a nearby café. They talked, hanged out, got each other’s first name but when Jonathan asked for her number, that’s when Sara hesitated. To her, if they’re really meant to see each other, they’ll see each other. Serendipity. Sara’s favorite word. Giving Jon some hope, she pulled out her Gabriel Garcia Marquez book Love in the time of Cholera from her bag, wrote her name and number there, and told Jon that if after donating the book to some bookseller and it did not find its way to him, then it was fate telling them to back off. Jon thought it was insane. Sara said goodbye hoping that one day they would meet again.
At that time, I haven’t read Love in the time of Cholera. In 2012, wanting to buy a book although no idea yet what book, I remembered that piece of literature from the movie Serendipity. So I bought Love in the time of Cholera. Strangely, it was only in 2014 that I started reading it and it took me ages to finish it. And I’m happy that I was able to finish it.
My brother and I watched his DVD copy of 1973 film Jesus Christ Superstar. This movie, since I was young, was being shown on TV at times during Holy Week or at times when a TV station feels like showing it. I didn’t like it first time or second time or third time I’ve seen it. Probably because I was uncomfortable seeing Jesus Christ singing. But I do love Mary Magdalene’s song “I don’t know how to love him” and Judas Iscariot’s “Superstar.” I was comfortable seeing Mary Magdalene and Judas, and the other disciples, dancing and singing except Jesus Christ. And I didn’t like the appearance of the guy who played Jesus Christ, played by actor Ted Neeley. My attitude was like this because I’m a big fan of Jesus of Nazareth starring Robert Powell, which was a serious movie, and any movies about Jesus Christ is to me, just nothing. There is only one movie about Jesus that I liked and that is Jesus of Nazareth. And I think Robert Powell looks handsome to play Jesus than Ted Neeley. But this was before.
Watching Jesus Christ Superstar on DVD for the first time, something has changed. Unlike before, I watched the movie from start to finish. And there was this song that had a profound effect on me.
Because for the first time, I saw this scene of Ted Neeley who played Jesus Christ at the Garden of Gethsemane. In that scene, he was praying to his Father about his impending death, his fear. Since this is a rock opera musical, the prayer was rendered in a brutal rock rendition through a song called “Gethsemane” and because of this song that I truly felt Jesus’s vulnerability. I felt the pain. It was intense! Ted Neeley’s surprising high note in the latter part of the song really made me feel the heavy burden of being “the only begotten son.”
I said Robert Powell looks handsome as Jesus than Ted Neeley. I take my word back. It’s not about good looks. Ted Neeley, who was 28 years old at the time and thin which made him so effective as Jesus Christ particularly when he was already being prosecuted in a barbaric way by the Romans, made me feel strongly that Jesus was simply human. I liked it that he was angry, doubting himself, and in this superficial world where we are taught by the self-righteous to suppress our anger, that expressing anger is abnormal, seeing Jesus in his weakest moment was at the same time a very cathartic moment for me.
I also like Carl Anderson who played Judas Iscariot. It was because of Carl Anderson that I began to like and understand Judas, even Peter who betrayed Jesus. Because you know what, if you were alive during Jesus’s time, you would have done the same thing that they did.