Hamlet in Love
Location: Dhanmondi Lakeside.
[Hamlet and Ophelia are talking at a corner near Rabindra Sarobor. Friday afternoon on a hot day in May. The coconut tree beside which they are sitting is leaning over the lake, its long serrated foliage creating a deep image in the water.]
Ophelia: If you love me, Ham, you've to understand my situation. My father will never agree. You're my classmate and a friend, and nothing more than that to him. I can't for the life of me disappoint him. If my mother were alive, it could be a different situation.
Hamlet (straightening his legs over the glide of the lake bank.): But this is always the case in the world. In a personal choice of love, family, culture, society, religion, and politics--this thing or that thing is always the problem.
Ophelia (putting a hand lovingly on Hamlet's knee): Ham, try to understand, can we not remain friends of the heart, rather than go for this marriage-knot?
Hamlet: Ophi, my dear, how many thousand times did I tell you that I don't like this kind of gibberish, all which is mouth-washing. Do you think I won't be able to provide you a shelter?
Ophelia: Your love is my shelter, love, I want nothing else. Look even now, as I'm here with you, I'm feeling so much sheltered.
Ophelia: You sons are different; you don't feel for your fathers as much as we do. I can't manage myself to face a situation where I'll be imagined as disobeying my father!
Hamlet: You girls really have a fucked-up logic. You'll leave your father's house by obliging his choice, but you won't leave his house by disobliging him. Though, it's all the same, you're leaving his house. What it means at bottom you know, you're not racking your brain over leaving your father, he probably isn't on your mind even, it's whom you're leaving with that is bothering you, I know. That means, you are implicitly making a choice between me Hamlet and that guy from America . . . what is his name? Cassio? Yes, Cassio, who your father is all melting about.
Ophelia: That's like my Prince Hamlet, speaking.
Hamlet: No, listen. You give me word that you tell your father that you're not going to marry this Cassio from America.
Ophelia (at first silent, then, gauging the intensity of Hamlet's feelings, breaks into an innocent laugh and offers her hand): Ok, my Prince Hamlet, I do give you my word that . . . . .
Hamlet: Wait. [He brings out his mobile phone and opens its camera, and holds it with one hand to take a snap of their oath-bound hands together.]
Ophelia: I do give you word that I'll never marry anybody but my Prince Hamlet.
[Then they go to the "Dinghi" restaurant over the lakeside, choose a corner table, order for some some samuchas and tea. Through the glass panel they watch people passing their time in many different ways. After eating they decide to leave. Ophelia first rises up and goes towards the door. As Hamlet looks on at her departure, Ophelia comes back as if an important idea has struck her mind.]
Ophelia: But Ham, Cassio has sent me the plane ticket to fly to Boston next week. My khala Desdemona is arranging everything; the marriage will take place there. Father will also fly with me.
Hamlet (excitedly): Bullshit, damn your plane ticket, damn your father, damn Cassio, you're not leaving Bangladesh!
Ophelia: How do you mean?
Hamlet: You'll see.
Ophelia (in deep concern, coming close to the table): I hope you won't do anything violent!
Hamlet (with a grin on his face): I might. You never know, Ophi. You're my meaning of life, you only know that!
[Ophelia leaves the place in a most dejected mood, not sure about anything. After she leaves, Hamlet buys a single stick of cigarette, lights it from the rope-fire of the van owner, orders another cup of tea, drinks it quickly in a few gulps, nudges the book under his armpit, and walks slowly off in the descending darkness of the evening.)
Location: Campus Lobby.
[Hamlet and Macbeth are childhood friends, now studying English at the same private university. In between class break they have met at the lobby. Hamlet deeply engrossed in thoughts. Macbeth opening his laptop to view some pictures on the Facebook. Both of them are wearing jeans, and T-shirts with Bangla alphabets printed all over. They are 22/23 years old. Hamlet is growing a little beard on his chin. He's looking hungry. Macbeth has a square face, a head deeply set in a pair of broad shoulders, a determined look, and is willing to enjoy time.]
Hamlet (keeping a finger inside the book he's reading): Dost, I can't endure it anymore! She's flying next week. I'm in a do or die situation. To marry Ophelia, or not to marry her . . .
Macbeth: That's the question. I don't understand these fucking thoughts in you, either you marry her, or you don't marry her. That's all. Why this, why that! By the way Horatio told me that you wrote to Mita, what's her advice?
Hamlet: Oh, that old crap. We're still students. Let her go, if she wants to go, all that old crap you know…. The nun's priest's tale.
Macbeth: How high is their boundary wall?
Hamlet: What do you mean!
Macbeth: I mean, how high is their boundary wall, eight feet, nine feet, ten feet!
Hamlet: You're joking, my love is flying away, and you're joking. A real friend you're.
Macbeth (opening his lap top): Listen, old ways pay, you know. One of my uncles did it thirty years ago, and they're a happily married couple even today. Man, you've to first climb a wall. First, the wall, then other things will fall in place. Girls really like it. Adventures! You know? Let's go to a website to see pictures on how the Romeos in the world elope with the Juliets?
Hamlet (not being able to laugh at Macbeth's suggestions, but still conceding to him): Ophelia's father lives in Baridhara, and the wall, I don't recognize a wall made of bricks standing in my path of love, I just don't, so height doesn't matter. I'll scale it to get my love. Who are you looking for in the Facebook?
Macbeth: For Ophelia's pictures. The ones at the Freshers' reception were just marvelous. Ham, you have eyes, Ham.
Hamlet: Why would she fly, when she loves me? [Leaning his cheek on his hand] . . . Frailty, thy name is woman!
Macbeth: You're a kid, Ham, you don't understand a simple thing. You are Ophelia's present, not her future.
Hamlet: But Mac, you said so prominently that all our tomorrows turn disappointingly into the dust of the present.
Macbeth: I said it, all right, but Ophelia is a woman, she believes in a future. They see education as future, marriage as future, jobs as future, children as future, houses as future, and America as future.
Hamlet: Isn't it a very strange situation that I'm in. Say you could be my rival in love, or so could be Horatio, or Antony, or even Iago. But this guy, because he lives in America on God knows what fishy job, is coming over and snatching my love away.
[They didn't see that both Antony and Horatio were standing over behind them overhearing their conversation.]
Horatio: That's the colonizing of the bride.
Macbeth: Hi, philosopher, you're here, give some wisdom to our Ham. He's miserable like a mouse being in love [somewhere from above the false ceiling the squeaking sound of a mouse can be heard], as much as we're miserable being out of love.
Horatio: Wisdom! Wisdom! Ha . . ha … ha, you're in love and asking for wisdom.
Macbeth: Hor is right, you need a ladder, not wisdom in love.
All three of them: Ladder!
Macbeth: Yes, ladder. The moon will shine tonight. We take Antony's father's car out, Antony drives, we three be in the car, may be Iago can join, but I'm not sure you'd like to have him in. Maybe we should, because he eats a lot of vegetable, he is cool, and in the moonlight you need a cool brain around.
All three of them in great excitement: Then .. …
Macbeth: I'll ask Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to stand by there with a ladder and a rope.
Hamlet: Why a rope!
Macbeth: Oh, yes, why a rope! No rope. But the Bard gave Romeo a rope when he climbed over Juliet's boundary wall. Didn't he?
Hamlet: Let's forget the Bard; he's been turned to ashes for more than four hundred years.
Macbeth: Ok, rope is out of sight. The ladder should be in place.
Horatio: Mac, don't forget the geometric balance. On which side of the wall will the ladder be placed? Don't forget the moonshine also. How can Rose and Guild stand by the wall if the moon shines? They must have security all over, especially when Mr. Polonius knows that his daughter had an affair with Hamlet.
Antony: My father told me that Mr. Polonius is very close to the underworld mafia lord, Shylock. Besides Mr. Brabantio, the Chief in Staff is also a good friend of his. Money and power both they have, what you've Ham, except for your love-stricken heart . . . . a poor school teacher as a father . . . no permanent house in Dhaka. You better forget her, let Cordelia or Rosalind or even Portia be in her place, though you may not like her thick voice.
Horatio: Ant, you love substitutes. That's why Enobarbus gave you the example of gods acting like tailors in supplying new wives. The three girls you named, you've ditched them all, I know, who your new choice is now by the way!
Antony: Oh, she's going to be the paragon for whom I won't mind if the Dhaka city melts into the old Buriganga. She's taking a transfer from a neighbourhood university, she has heard that the English Department is very good here, and, also, because [he pulls at his own collar] here's an Antony to find.
Hamlet: Dear Ant, dost, if only I had a heart as changeable as yours! What's her name!
Macbeth: The name sounds familiar. The Lux beauty of this year. Isn't it?
Antony: Yes, that's it.
Macbeth: Friends, let's come back to this ladder business.
Horatio: Wait a minute. If the ladder is inside the wall, then Portia climbs over the wall. Law will say . . . .
Hamlet: Why law, Hor?
Horatio: The law of the land is there, mind you. If the ladder is inside the wall, then it's Ophelia fleeing her father's charge, and since she's an adult, it's her choice, and law will defend her. But if the ladder is placed outside the wall, and Hamlet climbs over it and gets into the house, law will call him an intruder, and he will be punished for illegal encroachment, and if the girl accompanies him, they will still call it an elopement. See!
Antony: Meaning. against her consent!
Horatio: Yes, against her consent.
Macbeth and Antony (together): Then, inside, inside, the ladder inside the wall.
Horatio: If Hamlet jumps the wall and goes to Ophelia, that'll be outright kidnapping. If Ophelia jumps the wall and glides onto the street side, it's not kidnapping.
Macbeth, Antony and Hamlet: Inside the wall then, inside the wall.
To BE Continued