Now that the coup has failed, am back again. And by God's grace its still not '12' in my part of the country.
This is the day before the Trial of Antonia Vs Shylock was to begin. Shylock in his chamber was deep in thoughts. Neither of the vile accusations of his cruel-self were reflected on his calm visage. As he pondered in the dim-lights of the room, one of his page arrived. Not an ordinary page, he was the man Shylock respected, as would any Wise man respect a Man-of-honor.
Page knew, his master was at the brink of a remarkable chapter in the History of displaced Jews. He was about to get justice from the Ruler court, against one of the Highly-esteemed Citizens of Venice. This was not a mean feat. His master was not wrong, as the entire Citizenry believed. His, was a clear written-deal understood well by the Party and duly signed. The deal was broken and the bond had to be paid. And yet! Pound of Flesh of Antonio's heart was not something anybody could wish for.
Carefully as he approached his master, he wished to submerge in Shylock's thoughts and be a mute audience to the chaos within.
Contrary to what he exopected, Shylock looked calm and content. He knew even if the renowned Court of Justice imparted an impartial judgment, life will not be easy for Shylock thereafter.
Slight sway of kind ageing-eyes and Shylock saw his Man. He stood up to greet him. And to a mild surprise of the Page, covered him in a warm hug. It was an embrace of relief. Page sent a silent prayer to thank God. He could again be with his master when he needed him.
Shylock - 'Avaid, my brother my friend! Though the marts recognize you as a humble Merchant, for me you have always been a brother born to another mother. As dear is your counsel to me, so pleasing is your presence around. I have no idea why you still think you are my page, though it has been two Decades since you were released of your bondage. And yet I thank that thread which makes you still stick to me. More so now when the entire citizenry is all daggers against the brutish Shylock!'
Avaid - 'Master, you call me your brother and still 'think' this thread is what binds me. I am as much in awe of You as I am of your Noble eart. Not a single Merchant or Lord has ever released his Pages and ensured them social respect. Our entire community thinks of you as a Noble man with a Kind heart. And so do the locals, just they are too proud to admit it. This recent event is an opportunity for you to give back to the Christians, what we have been enduring since ages.
However mean it may sound, but even if you let go of Antonio they will still stamp it a victory of Them versus Us. Though I would like to hear what your sagely countenance suggests.'
Shylock - 'I suggest nothing. Neither have I chanced on something spectacular to prove 'Eternal Justice' at the Court tomorrow. I do not have a Say in dictating the Destiny. And yet I am clear on the role am about to play. I can see your bafflement Avaid. And I cannot explain it to you in clear terms. But let me tell you what ails me.
You are not wary to our fate as we displaced from our Holy Land to strife and struggle in foreign places. But tell me Avaid what is a Foreign Land?
Half of these locals were born someplace else. While most of ours grandfathers saw Venetian Sun from their mother's womb. They marry anywhere and pour-and-procure money from different kingdoms. While we lend our hard-earned money to the needy for the City Treasure. Yes, we do charge Interest, which these upright Christians so look-down-upon. But then we are the money-lenders. We are not church!
Can they trade without credit? And who lends money to those creditors?
Some of our brothers in their lands. We cycle their money and get paid for our money-lending decisions.
Do they trade for no-profit?
Why would they? What is the point of trading when there is no gain?
So how do they expect us to lend without interest? How would we run our lives, if we do not?
Farce! They know it all so well.
We are a peace-loving race. We know they were kind enough to let our forefathers take shelter here. Their laws gave us equal rights and let us trade without discrimination. That was the view of a Just Ruler, must have been somebody. We worked hard. Afterall money and wisdom is in our blood. We survived and toiled to reach where the best of Venetians, breathe.
We always keep a check on any flaring of our tempers. Marry within our own community. Give favors to anyone who asks, before they request.
And yet! they do not like our ways. They squirm at us and loathe inside. They ask for money from us and taunt our practices. They just hate us for we are not them.
Do ask! who or what is 'Them'? They cannot answer unless they twist it in a verse. Verses baffle me! Damn!
Antonio, the apostle of Christian grace! calls me a Cur(dog) in the mart, spits at me and comes to my door to lend money from me. He would not look at my face when he does so. He looks up at the farther-Heaven like a Greek God, while asking for alms from a lowly man.
And he asks without interest!
What does he ask, tell me? Without interest or guarantee does he not become a beggar? I tried to help him save his integrity and he says I am dishonest.
It pierced my heart with a warm dagger! And God forbid in my devilish-wit I asked him the Bond. I asked a pound of Flesh of his heart, as he had been hurting mine ever since. It is just a bond. And as I utter he dons the mask of a martyr!
And there I decided, after asking for my Lord's mercy, that if this Mask of a man fails the deal, I am sure to extract a Pound of Flesh of his noble Christian heart!'
Avaid - 'I have never seen you that agitated master. Though I believe Antonio is partial to our lot and specially you. But he has a kind heart and Name in the city. He has never harmed a soul. And yet sometimes such a Name, is expected to outshine other mortals around and he never spares such an opportunity.
He helps all and sundry and let it be known too. But then master, man has his follies. Judge the better ones and shun the evil. They who curse you, do not know your mercy and love for them. They are naive.'
Shylock - 'What you say is right, Avaid. But there is more to it. It is not me or you. We understand them as the physician knows the nerve and can manipulate them too. But what about our brothers? And generations to come. Would this keep on? Forever?
Now that we are here, we are not going back to our Holy Land ever. We belong here as much as they. We need to be accepted!
My daughter ran off with the christian boy. And they rejoice in my grief. Only because I am a Jew. Had I been one of them, they would have visited for condolence and shared grief. They laugh because they think we are low and not sharp.
I care for my people but I cannot do anything. Tomorrow when I go to Court, either I will win or lose. If I lose, they will jeer me and say my devilish intentions did not get paid. They will fine me. If I win, I can cut open Antonio's heart. And swear to God, I will! Or maybe I will not. My empathy will tell me then.
This Trial will make them aware that our vile-intentions can turn into actions. We can harm if wronged, course their own law. We will be a little more Them at the End of it.
Our people., whom I have abundant faith-in have immense humility, but this will restore faith in them. Faith! in the law of the land they live-in.'
Avaid - 'Master, I do not believe what I hear. It sounds like The Moses is come back.'
Shylock - 'No no Avaid, do not shame me with such a thought. I have love of my people in my mind when I say that, but also the memories of taunt and bad-tongue I had to bear. Jessica's elopement, showing no faith in his father made it pressing more. Now I have nothing to do; other than becoming a martyr, like my dear Antonio!'
Avaid - 'You jest, master!'
Shylock - 'Antonio? Yes. But in rest I am not fickle. I wish to become a villain to let them see Us as good or bad as Them. I have made-up my mind. And I am content. If I think of mercy, I will lose my determined-air in the Court. So mercy will come at the right hour, if it has to come.
Now I just pray to My Lord to make me carry all the filth we received, to show Them how Ugly it shews.
Avaid, I needed a listener in you to hear me, and for me to believe what I said.'
Avaid - 'I have been your listener. I do not have any words to express what I feel and I know they are not needed. Please tell me if there is anything else I can do to help you.'
Shylock - 'Just promise me! You will take care that our people would maintain the calm and humility we have-been-with since ages, irrespective of my fate.
Let them see what I tried to tell you. But if this flares them, make me a Devil. This is all what I want of thee.'
Avaid-'I promise master. I swear on my God.'
And they parted with an embrace of faith. Faith on each other, on their conduct thereon.
Note: It is a piece of fiction. Etched inside Merchant of Venice. These are solely my views on part-Play and part-Fictional characters. It does not intend to hurt any religious or community sentiments.