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All the world's a stage and one man in his time plays many parts

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players, and one man in his time plays many parts. It’s a monologue by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is my friend, philosopher, guide, and Guru. I often recite his monologues – I find it good for my body, mind, and spirit. Friends, recently there was an intense drama; gusto, suspense, despair; the protagonist found an unlikely ally, she helped him to rise from his misery; but then there was a surprising plot twist he never foresaw. Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and guests, if you are wondering who that fellow was – it was me, and if you think it was a fantasy, it was real; I am telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I belong to the Northeastern part of India, and we have a community here in the US tied together by our history, cultural heritage, and our mother tongue called Assamese. Ever year on the 4th of July weekend we hold the community get-together. There are a few events including a literary meeting where an annually published magazine is released. I have been writing for this magazine regularly – they even published my Toastmaster’s speeches - and my wife contributes poems in English. This year, after discussing it with my wife, I sent a proposal to the President of the literary wing asking if a poetry recitation by my wife could be included in the meeting. The President, Ms. Shah, who is highly regarded in our community immediately responded by accepting the proposal. My wife was quite happy and began to prepare. But around two weeks later, I received a follow up email from Ms. Shah, asking if my wife could recite the poem in Assamese since the meeting was about preserving our language. I was disappointed with the condition – the translation would require a language keyboard, a dictionary, an interpreter; Impossible!! Then I became more upset – against everyone, our community, the jealous people, the perceived enemies. How inconsiderate they were! I was fuming with rage. But the drama took an unexpected turn when I started a soliloquy with my other self which I call my conscience. Friends, I often engage in such conversation; but if you think I am suffering from a hallucination, you are mistaken, such monologue is healthy for your body, mind, and spirit, in fact I urge you to do it regularly, every day, you will make William Shakespeare proud!

Hello, you are making something big out of something little.” My conscience was telling me. Then he blasted me. “You are selfish, you think only about your interest, your need, you’re liking. Have you thought about Ms. Shah? She is accountable to the community, and she is just trying to follow the rules. Have you put yourself in her shoes?” Friends, I had no answer, I sat down silently. As I let go of all the selfish thoughts and let in meaningful and coherent thoughts, there was a great revelation. Friends, I found an unlikely ally - The multilingual language translate; she was the sister of Google whom I fondly named Ms. Translate

I can help you translating your wife’s poem.”

“Really, you mean I don’t need any language keyboard, a dictionary, an interpreter?” I was puzzled. “Yes, you simply type here in this side of the screen, and you see the translation on the other side.” As I started typing, my wife poems in English were translated to Assamese in less than five minutes. I couldn’t believe my eyes; it was a miracle; Ms. Translate – she was superb. Immediately I sent the translated poem to Ms. Shah. She replied accepting the translation and saying she would see us at the convention on the 4th of July, America’s Independence Day! I was elated – freedom, liberty , pursuit of happiness.

The Speech is dedicated to Syeda Jebeen Shah ( Center)

But then there was another twist I never foresaw. At the convention, I met Ms. Shah. She was so kind, so soft-spoken, so generous in her manner that I felt she was an embodiment and reflection of the best of our community. She complemented me for learning Google Translate, “I know you are doing it for your lovely wife.” The literary meeting was starting in an hour, it was a tiring day, and I decided to take a break in the empty room nearby. I was in deep sleep when I suddenly woke up to a huge commotion. It was my wife, brandishing the printed agenda, she pointed to the line in bold “Poetry recitation by Mr. and Ms. Bora”.

What happened, what happened, what’s the problem?” I jumped out of the slump.

You are the problem”, she shot back, “It's my poetry, my creation, why are you interfering in my work?” Friends, I realized I had forgotten to tell her about my behind the scene translation work. I took the blame, and then I quickly introduced her to Ms. Translate – “Look, she would translate any of your poems to any language you want.” My wife was quite impressed but then she rolled her eyes, “But why your name in the agenda, it should be Ms. Translate.” I pleaded, “I don’t know, I never asked nobody, I swear. Honey, I am telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” She accepted my explanation and then the meeting began. Finally, there she was on stage. She began the poetry recitation with her mesmerizing voice, I watched with awe, she looked wonderful, as beautiful as I remembered. She came off the stage to the sound of the cheering audience. I was beaming with pride.

Friends, All the world's a stage. If you shrink away from it, you gain nothing. But if you play a part, you emerge much richer; each experience you face makes you stronger. In the drama of my life, I met the most gracious person in our community, I found Ms. Translate (now my reliable friend and trusted ally), and I witnessed the beauty and strength of a community. All the world's a stage and one man in his time plays many parts.

Oh William Shakespeare, your words are so true!

All the glory to you, oh Master!

YouTube speech link

Speech Evaluation by Samantha Watt

Thank you for letting me evaluate your speech, you are a very talented storyteller.

You had wonderful enthusiasm and your face lights up when you talk about your 4th of July event and your wife. Very charming! I love the way you brought Shakespeare specifically, into your speech, as his works are widely recognizable and that analogy being used throughout was very effective. The message of your speech that we are all in our own plays and playing many parts, is true, and very relatable for the audience- it captivated us from the beginning.

I love your use of “callbacks” or referring back to “the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth” and the Shakespeare analogies and quotes. I recommend keeping those, but holding space for them by pausing after it is said, and maybe slowing down and emphasizing when you’re saying those lines.

The organization of your speech made it easy to follow- message, order of real life events, bring it full circle to your original message. GREAT!


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