Shakespeare’s Email

Image credit: Mad Magazine
Image credit: Mad Magazine

‘The evening is still, the birds silent, the wind dead like a tramp, flopped on a footpath. The sky is dressed in dust and dusk.’

(From my short story: End of Dusk)

I look at my face in the mirror and a dung-cake with a frog at its centre for a nose stares back. It looks revolting enough but the man responsible for it has shunned this world and is beyond all reprimands. The wise men of yore have said that beauty is only skin deep and I agree with them heart and soul, for what lies beneath my risible contours is a beautiful mass of cells, tissues and sinews, a calciferous skull, and a bowl of grey noodles that will write, come what may.

I wrote many tales when I was just a boy and dispatched them to the enchanted journals of the times. They all came back on wings on denial, swift in their flight, proud in defeat, with the editors’ ‘salutations and regrets’. Till one day I wrote a comic piece that saw the light of the day under a different name and in altered robes.

Like an Achilles slighted I roared in my rage. I launched a volley of postal attacks on the office of the crime, sinking the pocket money of next three months in postal stamps. One day, my mother handed me over a postcard as I returned from school. This butter-brown missive of disdain held four bored words on them, followed by the mark of interrogation, in red ink. Little did I know I had met my nemesis so early in life in that wicked little phrase, ‘Did you write that?’

Ever since that, my reader, I have been jinxed by those four words, followed by that squiggle with a dot. I have withstood many a teacher, a principal and a judge of contests, and editors too of all hues, all gawking in disbelief. It made me sore over the years even as I soared in prose, and I swore to have a periodical of my own someday where no wind, no gusts, no tempests could stir a leaf without my nod. I swung between hope and despair for eons with my reveries as my muse bobbed up and down the river of scepticism. Fortunately, God woke up one day and said, ‘Let there be blogs’.

You would think it has been a Nirvana to a hack like me, post the Rubicon.

Obviously, not. Just when I thought the odd doubting Thomas was a fossil in my past, he returned like Lazarus, baleful and insistent. It happened to me again today and it’s surely not the first time in the nooks and alleys of blogging, and this is how it usually goes. It took place in the context of the words from my own story, quoted at the top of the post.

She: Did you write that?
Me: Of course I did. Did you read the story?
She: Yes, I liked it. The ending was so good I had to ask if it was your own writing.
Me: Actually, Shakespeare wrote it but he kindly emailed it to me so that I could publish it on my blog.


  1. A great piece! (It was probably Sir Francis Bacon who sent it under Shakespeare’s name!)

    1. Maybe yes, maybe no, Bindu. Unfortunately, it festers the rotten idea that blogging is cheap. Perhaps we have brought down the standards ourselves.

      1. I agree, totally. Gone are the days when we blogged for ourselves, if people read and enjoyed, we were happy and that was it.

        Today, it seem to be more like a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of scenario 😦

        1. Who is to blame for the rot? There are fine blogs I keep visiting and commenting even as they don’t frequent mine. Again, as Joyce said, life is too short to read bad blogs: no qualms here.

  2. It must have been terrible to have your work stolen! The reason I started blogging after its glory days is because I was so scared this would happen to my writings. On another note, you write really engaging short stories!

    1. I have found paraphrased versions of my posts and stories, sentences pilfered, and in one case, the theme was obviously lifted from a short story of mine. Regardless of the pain involved, it is not the context of the extant post.
      Thanks for your concern and the compliment.

    1. Actually, there is a history here -the blessed soul that she is, she firmly brackets the non-published authors as the hoi polloi. Now it is not hard to agree with her to a certain extent, but I often come across printed words on which I think I can puke.

      1. There I am fully with you. All the printed words are not necessarily of very good quality and many of them can easily be flushed down the drain.

  3. Ah! So THIS was the one! 🙂 Yeah – I have had this bloggers are failed writers crap too from people. As though not ‘deigning’ to blog will convert people into Will Shakespeares and good old Bill would have had his talent strangled if he ‘stooped’ to blogging 🙂 BUT then, whoever considers human beings rational? If we can divide and look down upon people based on gender, caste, creed and whatever, why not on the basis of whether they are bloggers or not? Why let any chance of looking down upon someone go waste? 🙂

    1. You have summarised it so well, Suresh. Why let any chance of looking down upon someone go waste? The truth is, I have read as much printed zilch as the blogposts.

  4. Ha Ha Ha. You get lot of these interesting female fans, eh? you should summon Shakespere from his grave to write a book about them.

  5. Uma, I can’t stop reading and re-reading this. It’s delicious! And I do know you wrote it…no one else has your style…Cheers from Seattle…Molly

  6. I have never been rejected by any periodical, magazine, newspaper or newsletter. I have a feeling that’s because I’ve never submitted anything ever….. I was invited to submit an article for the college alumni magazine, I did and it took me over a year to actually see it in print.

    Blogging is as much writing as is writing a novel. I mentioned this on Bottleworder’s blog post once. Blogging is more like theatre – you get instant feedback, acceptance and rejection are instant. Writing a book is like a movie, there are production steps involved before the audience sees it and they vote mostly with their wallets and/or the opinion of the public opinion. I think blog readers are more discerning, they will read the not-so-popular blogs and even the unknown ones.

    I like the way you string sentences together.

    1. That is a compelling analogy. And if I am allowed to dwell on the similitude, the bloggers are much more susceptible to ridicule, and to the detractors and the malcontent, and ‘The Flies in the Market-Place’. It is a lawless land —there is no knowing what and who you will meet the next instant.

      Of course, you meet gentler souls too, perhaps in equal numbers. And once in a while, you chance upon a breath-taking writer, a sparkling humourist or a soulful raconteur amidst the maddening legions. That alone makes the journey worthwhile, this pilgrimage to the shrine of Muse.

      Many thanks for the extensive comment, and that token of appreciation.

  7. Haha US.
    ‘Let there be blogs’ …..& goblets of Zinfandel. Indeed; but thank goodness for the occidental, the occasional, orchestrated & accidental that stumble upon our scribbled Shakespearean make-believe my friend.
    Cheers, ic

  8. That is hilarious Uma 🙂 Shakespear would have had his hands full sending so many short stories for your blog from the grave ! Do put in a request to email me some too 😉

    1. It is like this, Ash: We have signed an agreement to the effect that he will never write for anyone else in the first half of the 21st Century; any exception will void the contract. 😉

  9. hahah Umashankar ji —–a refreshing read specially after a long sabbatical I took from IB —-heartening to note that “E mail” existed in those days too else the postal deptt would have had a tough time delivering all those posts that too from across the seas

    such subtle humour loved reading it —and thanks for visitng my poem

    warm regards

      1. Thanks a lot for those kind words Umashankar Ji ( hope they were not meant to be sugar coated pills)—even my name being mentioned so near the great lady’s name means a lot and makes me feel on top of the world —and no I am not related to her ( not that I know of ) but I was Rajni Verma before I got married LOL —thanks once again warm regards

  10. I was going to mention Bacon wrote Shakespeare but I see someone beat me to it, so I leave you an excerpt from P.G Wodehouse “Bacon, as you no doubt remember, wrote Shakespeare’s stuff for him and then, possibly because he owed the latter money or it may be from sheer good nature, allowed him to take the credit for it.”

    I too wrote a number of “middles” but alas my sense of humour must have remained funny only to me with the rejection letters returning my typed sheets. So yes indeed thank Dog for the power of internet. After all it allowed me to write the life of Wali Miyan Sheikhpeer on Uncyclopedia without a rejection letter being involved.

    1. There are many legends about Shakespeare, some say he didn’t even exist. Here I am, then, trying to foist one more figment of fancy to that godlike man.

      Thanks to the ‘Dog’ for empowering us to have our own journals on the web. But for that, I’d have missed the chronicles of Nawab, and the gripping stories that your pen is capable of. Carry on updating the Uncyclopedia!

  11. What a wonderful post, Umashankar, and I know you wrote It! 🙂 Your answer to the doubter was perfect and in good humor. How clever to evoke the ghost of Will Shakespeare in your reply! I must say I am very surprised anyone would doubt you wrote those words. That ending quote (which I love) from your excellent “End of Dusk” story is as poetic and expressive as all your other writing. Perhaps she is just not used to reading such high quality material on a blog. Yes, when someone does that, asks if you really wrote something, it is frustrating and I’ve had that happen on occasion in the past. Putting a positive spin on this, that doubter gave you material for yet another excellent blog post!

    1. I meant to say “opening” quote not ending quote from your “End of Dusk” story (the quote at the top of this post). 🙂

    2. Ha ha, Madilyn! I am thankful to the doubter for the post. And i am delighted you liked the post. To tell you the truth though, I was miffed because she persisted in her doubts. Actually, it reminded me of how I was rebuffed on a blog called ‘raining words’ a few years ago, where on a post about ‘death and its effect’ I chanced to say, The world dies with every human. Pat came the reply, ‘Is that a stolen line?. And then a couple of other incidents too.

      The point I’m trying to make is that a lot of people write garbage and they expect everyone else to be as good as them. I have never defiled my blog with ‘filler’ posts.

      Many thanks for your continued support. 🙂

  12. … though you are telling my story…..

    Are we bounded by a similar fate? Hope not….I am still disbelieved while you may be climbing the ladder of success……

  13. Hahaha 😀 hilarious but it is sad to see your work stolen. Blogging comes with its risks and this is the biggest of them. Enjoyed the piece very much Uma.

  14. Ofcourse you wrote that. That elan and style, can be none other than you! It is sad that there are thieves are out there creeping in the alleys of the blogosphere to steal a paragraph here, nick a story there, and copy and paste a whole article onto their own miserable unworthy space made of stolen words. But well, all creative people be it writers, painters, moviemakers, have to deal with it!, Howard Roark after all continued to create, and permit me to say, the free riders finally did perish after all.

    1. Thank you for invoking Howard Roark, that vertiginous touchstone, Richa. I am the last person to give two hoots to pilferers and detractors; I am one grain amongst the storm!

  15. Umashakar, was that a guest post? Because there’s no way you could have written that. 😉 Seriously, you’re such a wonderful writer. I can understand people’s marvel (and unfortunately suspicion) of your genius.

  16. Oh what sense of humour! I was wondering where this piece was going in the beginning, and I like it’s final destination 😀 😀

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