When Caesar had died, Maanvi and I had gone to Jaya aunty’s home to give our condolences. Caesar wasn’t a very old dog – well, he didn’t look it, anyway. He was actually around twelve years old, and rather a sweetheart. He looked menacing because he was a Doberman – but he never did a thing to hurt anyone.
I liked Jaya aunty. So I had gone to her home, with my raffle sheet to collect some money.
“Hello, aunty,” I said.
“Hi Tanvi,” said Jaya aunty. She looked really young, you know. Her hair was always plaited perfectly, her glasses on her nose and a small bindi on her forehead. I liked what she wore, too. Her kurtas always looked so dignified.
“Um – I just came to collect some raffle money,” I said.
“Come in,” said Jaya aunty. “Sit down. I’ll get you some water.”
Jaya aunty also had the most beautiful house in the neighbourhood. I was a bit unsure about how she maintained it so well – the exposed brick, neat lawns, pretty furniture. I sat down at her dining table and waited. In front of me, lying open was Shakespeare.
“Aunty?” I said. “You read Shakespeare?”
Jaya aunty smiled as she returned to the room. “I teach Shakespeare. I’m an ISC teacher, you know.”
When you’re young, someone doing something outside of your existence seems entirely unbelievable. Besides, I had just entered my Shakespeare phase in literature.
“You teach it?”
Jaya aunty grinned. She gave me a glass of water, and I asked, “Which ones?”
“We’ve been having Macbeth rather regularly for the last few years,” she said. “And As You Like It.”
“I’ve read As You Like It,” I said excitedly. The thing was, almost no one else had a Shakespeare phase in literature when I did. Jaya aunty was the first person I’d met in Lucknow who’d also read Shakespeare.
“I love Shakespeare,” aunty said. “I love teaching it, also.”
And that was all it took. That’s all it ever takes, sometimes, to get two people talking. Shakespeare, water, raffle tickets, unknown history, and perhaps a few plays that were read by both. And while As You Like It isn’t my favourite play, I have a collection of Shakespeare, a penchant to reread my Macbeth notes over and over again, and the first person who ever discussed Shakespeare took think about every time I reread them.