The bard and my husband 17/09/2010

I literally had to beg, plead and cajole my husband into agreeing to accompany me to ‘The Merchant of Venice’ which was staged in our city some time ago. I next ventured to suggest that he go through the play once again to refresh his memory but he brushed my words aside, saying, “Do you think I’ve forgotton my Shakespeare, every play of his is fresh in my memory though I left college nearly decades  ago.”

As we took our seats in the auditorium I noticed that most of the audience looked like members of a literary circle. The curtain went up and the play commenced.

“In sooth, I know not why I am sad.:…” thus the lines were being spoken by Antonio, the kind-hearted friend of Bassanio. I felt my husband nudging my elbow. “Antonio doesn’t look the least bit sad,” he remarked.

“Oh, please be quiet, people can hear you” I whispered. He was quiet but not for long. Seeing Bassanio enter with Gratiano and Lorenzo ,I could hear him comment, “My, Bassanio doesn’t look handsome at all. I credited Portia with better taste, I wonder who the actor is?” I looked around in embarrassment but fortunately everyone was engrossed in the play. I quietly thrust the ‘cast list’ into his hand and continued to watch the play.

“Don’t you think Portia looks beautiful?” This was a question which took me absolutely unawares. “Listen, that’s not Portia but Nerissa, Portia’s maid, that’s why I asked you to read the play again,” I said impatiently.

The poor dear was taken aback but he continued. “You mean that shabbily dressed woman with plain looks is Portia?” I didn’t bother to answer him.

But more was to follow. My husband spared no single character and I began to feel increasingly uneasy with his every comment. “Can’t your comments wait till we reach home?” I snapped at him.

It was the famous trial scene. Portia and Nerissa were disguised as the Doctor of Law and his clerk.

“Therefore, prepare thee to cut off the flesh. Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less, nor more. But just a pound of flesh….” crucial lines that change the whole complexion ‘of the case were being delivered with great intensity, just then hubby chose to interrupt, “Why is Portia bent so much? Maybe her advocate’s cloak is too heavy for her.”

People around us  burst out laughing and the reason was obvious.

N Meera Raghavendra Rao


5 thoughts on “The bard and my husband 17/09/2010

  1. Prof.V.N.K.Kumar

    There are two kinds of people in this world. One, who passionately admire Shakespeare and two, those who don’t admire Sheshappa Iyer all that much. Your hubby perhaps falls into the latter category. So the only way he could kill the time was by focussing on the trivialities and superficialities like dresses, looks and faces.

    Reminds me of a similar predicament faced by me. I accompany Prema to the musical concerts which last 3 hours. I am not in love with carnatic music and the only reason why I go is to escort my wife safely to & fro the venue. I keep a tally of the number of times the vocalist wiped his sweating face, the number of times he drank from the flask at his side ( I will be guessing whether it is hot water or glucose water or coffee or brandy and whispering it to my wife who will be hushing me up all the time while rotating her neck 180 degres to see whether others heard what I said) and reminding Prema as to how many people had walked out during the “Thani” rhythm section and why not we join them too. I care two hoots about the Raga and Kriti, its Arohan and Avarohan or the swara prasthara. Prema says that it is easier to take a 3 year old to the concert than a 72 year old tone-deaf person like me !

  2. V Raghavan

    Your hubby’s comments at the theatre have a sense of humour. The actors, especially the amateur ones, rarely have the looks of the character they are playing. Once Nirupama played Cleopatra in the Church Park school drama. The nuns went ga-ga about her delivery of the dialogue, bur certainly she did not have the looks of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. (If Nirupama was there to read this last line, I would be in trouble!)

  3. meera rao

    If Nirupama was able to impress the nuns with her dialogue delivery ,I feel not looking like Liz Taylor can be given a go by compared to the other way round–possessing looks of Liz and delivering dialogue like Aishwarya Rai in the Hindi version of Raavan!

    1. Prof.V.N.K.Kumar

      Reminds me of another instance of reversal of heritage :

      Isadora Duncan, dancer: You are the greatest brain in the world and I have the most beautiful body, so we ought to produce the most perfect child.

      George Bernard Shaw: What if the child inherits my beauty and your brains?

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