Bewitched by the Bard

Romeo Juliet, Julius Caesar and King Lear would roam freely in our classrooms.

‘Here’s the smell of the blood still; All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand oh!’

Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy in the lilting voice of our petite Anglo-Indian English teacher, fondly called Anne Miss, in our convent would make us fly into the fantastic land of Shakespeare and the myriad characters he created. She would ma­ke us enact a scene after explaining the play as fathomable to our young minds.

Ah! The thrill of being Lady Macbeth or Portia the lawyer asking for the pound of flesh with not a drop of blood. These moments are etched deep in my memory and maybe this was the reason I fell in love with the poet and his works at such an young age.

Later, in college, my English lecturers kept up the meetings with the Bard in right earnest. Romeo Juliet, Julius Caesar and King Lear would roam freely in the limited confines of our classrooms. The classes would be vibrant and charged, be it The Merchant of Venice or The Tempest or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The lecturers possessed an exemplary power of expression and would bring before our eyes a scene at the balcony where Juliet spoke to Romeo or a dead Polonius being dragged off by Hamlet or Festa, the clown, in Twelfth Night singing, ‘Oh! Mistress mine where are you roaming.’

I remember sitting mesmerised by the lectures with my mind wandering around in a fantasy land full of characters created by the Bard, only to be woken up by the loud ringing of the bell for the next class, which would be Chemistry or Physics — a total contrast to the previous class. Life was a fantastic dream for me in the teens, visualising a young Romeo on the road or the scary witches from Hamlet on a windy stormy night or a good friend’s betrayal.

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my English teachers for their untiring efforts in creating a magical world which paved way for me to do a Masters in English with the works of Shakespeare as one of the electives.

I write this to also convey my gratit­ude to all those English teachers around the world who bring to life the recorded words and thoughts of the greatest poet, Shakespeare. I sign off with the Bard’s words from Twelfth Night:

‘A great while ago the world begunWith hey, ho, the wind and the rain; But that’s all one, our play is done& we’ll strive to please you every day!’

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