03 April, 2017

"My Perchik" from After Anatevka in Concert

Santino and Jessica Fontana
Song by Ben Toth and Alexandra Silber

Performed by Santino Fontana and Jessica Fontana, based on Alexandra Silber's novel "AFTER ANATEVKA"

From AFTER ANATEVKA : IN CONCERT at Symphony Space, New York City, 2017

Chapter 3: Hodel’s Longing

    Sat low, the daughters of the dairyman crouched beneath the cows and pulled the milk from their udders, as they had every day since the age when they were first able. It was more regimen than routine. The mechanical sound of each rhythmic tug and the subsequent tinny splash accompanied by the incessant groans from the beasts themselves was the music of home— its dull cadences almost soothing.
    But the sound was accompanied by a stillness — a feeling of unbearable emptiness that had been growing there for as long as she could recall. It was a longing as insidious as the odor from the stables: oftentimes unnoticeable, but a particular turn of the breeze, a sweltering afternoon, or in returning from inhaling the clean air of the river, and the feeling would grab a hold of her consciousness before she was permitted to continue on.
    Her eyes were intent on the milk rising in the pail, when the repetitive music of the work came crashing to a halt. She suddenly felt void of more than just her energy; it was a collapsing of life purpose, as if the oil had run out, extinguishing her flame.
    “What is it Hodelleh?” Hodel did not even notice that Chava’s concerned hand was upon her shoulder.
    “Nothing…” Hodel dismissed the feeling, brushing it away, “Nothing at all.”
    But of course it was something—and she wanted it gone. To feel once more, even for the briefest of moments, the fellowship of her community, her faith, and above all her affinity with Chava and the rest of her family. She longed to grow— inward, outward, taller still. She longed to burst through the barn doors and run toward any kind of rescue, across vast distances, through the mists of the morning, until the collapse of her body matched that of her spirit.  All of a sudden she was quite nauseous with it. Hodel shook herself, threw back her head, and smiled with reassurance at her sister before returning to the udders with a forced resolve.
    That was the summer she turned sixteen—the summer before she met Perchik.

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