I READ “The Merchant of Venice” thrice.
Yes, not one, not twice, but thrice, it is not to impress anyone, I read the Shakespeare classic over and over because I didn’t understand a word he said the first time.
I was a struggling English major, who was overwhelmed with the reading list given by a professor with a monotone.
On the first read, I felt stupid; the old English format was overwhelming for a Jessica Zafra reader to digest in one sitting.
On the second reading...I still felt like a schmuck, though some parts, i understood... a little.
I gave up on the second read and decided to wing it in class the next day, Shakespeare had universal themes, I convinced myself, how hard can the discussion get, besides the professor with a monotone seemed easy obstacle to hurdle.
My delusions of grandeur of “winging” Shakespeare were swiftly crushed, I realised the hard way that one cannot fake understanding of the scenes of the writing genius and yes, his themes are universal, but you would look like a fool if you pretend to have read his plays.
Another stark awakening was the professor with a monotone, whom I judged to be “easy” cannot be hurdled with flak... thus, I read “The Merchant of Venice” for the third time and finally got it least i again like like a blubbering shuck when the professor with a monotone decided to have recitation just for the heck of it.
The struggling English major who was me almost two decades ago remembers how I read and loved Shakespeare after that and how I came to love the professor with a monotone who stalked me most of my end days at University, all my major subjects were almost under her.
May favourite quote from the Merchant comes from Shylock saying “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge! The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”
I read a lot more Shakespeare after that and a whole lot more classic novel, I graduated an English major in the millennium, years after I was scheduled to walk the stage and today, I still read and remember Shakespeare... I was dubbed as his daughter by the professor with a monotone when I finally left the confines of University.
Almost two decades after I left, I receive with sadness the news of the passing of Dr Teresita Azarcon, my professor with a monotone, the one which cannot be hurdled with flak; I bid thee a sweet slumber where angles will sing you an endless medley.