Julius Caesar has been haunting my dreams…
(Memoirs from Another Life!)
At about 2 AM, I woke up…bathed in cold sweat, with my throat so parched that I could barely speak, let alone scream.
Thankfully it was a dream, and so I couldn’t be held responsible for what happened…but not everyone thought of me as blameless, especially not Mark Antony. Here’s what happened.
It was March 15, 44 BC, and Caesar was rushing to address the Senate. He was wearing his toga and looking as charismatic as ever. I was right behind him – a scribe who definitely didn’t look like a woman, and I know this because I caught my reflection in a pond that we passed on our way to the Theater of Pompey. I looked worried and rushed, but what was my rush beside Caesar’s need to be immortalized. I had been chosen to be his ghost-writer. It was a great honor, as you can see, but the task was fraught with dangers, and the gravest danger of all was Caesar’s anger. Caesar knew that many Romans were plotting to have him assassinated, and he was dictating me something on this topic, when I heard hurried yet hushed footsteps behind me.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Mark Antony hurrying behind us. He looked worried and I knew that he wanted to say something important. Suddenly I saw him raise his index finger to his throat. Before I could understand what it all meant, Caesar asked me if I were listening, and I had to turn my attention to my notes. I wrote as we walked. A difficult feat indeed. We must have presented quite a picture. Caesar in the front, followed by me hurrying along to be on his side, and the ink-bearer behind me hurrying along to be on my side.
Just before we arrived at our destination, the clatter of Mark Antony’s wooden sandals stopped. I looked around, but I could see him no more. I could see many other Roman Senators because we had almost reached the theater, the arena in which the Roman political games took place. I was not allowed any further, because the proceedings of the Senate were not for me to record.Caesar stopped and looked into my eyes.
“You are doing a good job. Have you checked on that lazy artist who was commissioned to do my portrait for the cover-page?” he asked me. I had checked, and our Caesar was looking terribly handsome in it. I nodded my head and told him that it was ready.
“Good. I’d like to see it this evening,” said Caesar, dismissing me. He then turned, climbed the steps and disappeared inside the Theater of Pompey.
I and the ink-bearer had just turned for returning to Caesar’s villa, when we heard the commotion from within the theater. Something had gone wrong. The senators were always noisy, but the scream sounded ominous, and the voice that screamed sounded like it belonged to…Caesar.
I turned to see Mark Antony – his eyes accusing me of something. …Something?!
And then it all fell in place with a deafening crash. The gesture that he had made with his index finger flashed in front of my eyes…he had asked me to warn Caesar. I didn’t do it! And he was way-laid by another Roman who was an accessory to the crime…so he couldn’t warn Caesar either.
But what was done was done.Caesar was dead, but he wasn’t yet free to ascend to the heavens. He had an unfulfilled wish.
He wanted to see his Caricature!
He haunted me the whole night, and I bet that he’s haunted me through all those centuries that have passed by – but being the forgetful person that I am, I don’t remember. Nevertheless, this haunting has to stop…and although the India-Sri Lanka match for the Cricket World Cup Finals is beckoning me…I have to publish Julius Caesar’s Caricature before I go to bed tonight!