Where's my Shakespeare?

Where's my Shakespeare?

“Where’s my Shakespeare?” I demanded of no one in particular. I was dusting my bookshelves, a task I perform randomly rather than routinely, when I noticed the playwright’s absence.

This does not mean that Shakespeare’s supernatural self keeps visiting and vanishing like his memorable creation, the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Nor am I referring to my Complete Works of William Shakespeare. What was missing was a statuette, one of several replicas of great writers. My small brass Shakespeare is especially dear to me because it was a present from my late father.

Ever since 1977, when I started my first job as a lecturer in English, Shakespeare has maintained his prestigious position in my library. I had last noticed him, in the first week of August, when he was standing, as usual, beside a figurine of King Henry VIII. After all, the original Shakespeare wrote a play on that mercurial monarch, for whom divorce and decapitation were prosaic pastimes. Besides, he enjoyed the patronage of Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry and the hapless Anne Boleyn.

On reflection, it struck me that there could be one of only two explanations for Shakespeare’s disappearance. The first, that my brass, sword-wielding Rani of Jhansi (another resident of the reading room), viewing the literary luminary as a foreign foe, had struck him down on Independence Day. More likely, a human hand had dislodged the dramatist. The chief suspect was my grand-nephew, Gabriel.

He had recently turned seven, and my husband and I had hosted a birthday party for him. The hall was the scene of the festivities, and we had sealed off the study, where return gifts and prizes for games were hidden.

Gabriel later confessed that he had made a foray into the forbidden territory. Grabbing the image of Shakespeare, he had used it to burst one of the many balloons that had been readied for distribution. The ensuing explosion, albeit minor, had caused my miniature memento to slip through the frisky fellow’s fingers, take flight and land some distance away from its habitual home.

“Where’s my Shakespeare?” I demanded of Gabriel in particular.

Gabriel reached into a narrow space between two tables and retrieved my cherished keepsake. Grinning impishly, he looked as charmingly mischievous as one might picture Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Proffering me the battered Bard, the little elf said disarmingly, “Here’s your Shakespeare!”

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