Time to take time-travel trip to save Romeo

Some love scenes will never die: Romeo was charmed in the ballroom, enchanted beneath the balcony, and heartbroken in the crypt. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo fell for Juliet. “Did my heart love till now?” he asked. And his answer, referring to Juliet, immediately followed: “Forswear it, Sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”

Romeo and Juliet is a story about two star-crossed lovers trapped in an impossible relationship. It is a Shakespearean tragedy: tears, poetical dialogues, a bottle of poison, and very unnecessary, yet inevitable death.

The following is a science-fiction story: the information related to genetics and to the field of personalized medicine is science. The story — about how we, a group of friends, went on a time-travel mission, back to history, to save Romeo’s life — is fictional.

There were the three of us, or as we later learned, four: Dr. Smith, a geneticist; Dr. Matteo, an expert in linguistics and ancient Italian who would help us communicate with Romeo; and me, the driver of our Time Machine Shuttle (TMS-2). The fourth member of the delegation, Professor Cardozo, was an uninvited guest. We did consider Prof. Cardozo, an old-time friend of ours, when we were planning the mission. But we thought that his vast knowledge of genetics and personalized medicine would only interfere with our mission to save Romeo’s life.

A few moments into our time travel mission, we found Cardozo hiding behind the rear seat of TMS-2. It was too late to return and leave him at home, where we thought he belonged. We just pledged him to remain silent, at all times, for any word that would come out of his mouth may jeopardize the mission.

TMS-2 arrived in Verona, Italy, on a midsummer day in 1591. We arrived, as planned, at a critical moment: it was after Romeo and Juliet fell for each other, but just before the unfortunate chain of events leading to their death took place. We had to move fast for TMS-2 would allow only short glimpses into the past.

Matteo, who knew Verona well, quickly lead us alongside the Adige river, and through the narrow streets of the city. We found Romeo in the tomb. He was holding Juliet in his arms, his tears flooding her hair. Looking at Juliet in Romeo’s arms, even with her eyes closed and her skin pale, I thought: I ne’er saw true beauty till that night.

“We are from the future,” Matteo said in fluent ancient Italian, “and we are here to save your life.” Romeo could probably tell that we were from the future, or at least from a very remote village, for our attire looked very different from his; despite Matteo’s command of ancient Italian, his dialect was still different from that of Romeo’s; and we all had blinking and beeping electronic attachments providing us information about our location, the location of TMS-2, local time at destination, and at home (it was July 23, 2029, 15:43:38).

Romeo looked at us, his eyes shining with sadness, despair, and mourning. “And how would you even know that my life is in danger?” he asked.

Standing there, we were able to understand only a little from the conversation between Matteo and Romeo. We heard Matteo mentioning William Shakespeare, Dr. Smith, genetica, Professor Cardozo, futuro, spaceship, TMS-due, amore and Juliet. Romeo was listening quietly. His expression turned from deep sadness, to disbelief, and then to curiosity.

Romeo was willing to listen. And Dr Smith was standing by, eager to share his knowledge with Romeo: that we, humans, are so genetically similar, one could barely tell the difference. We felt that this knowledge of genetics may help Romeo make a decision different from the one he made in Shakespeare’s tale: saving his own life, the life of Juliet, and their love.

All that time, Romeo was still holding the poison bottle in his hand. Would Dr. Smith convince Romeo? Would Professor Cardozo be able to remain silent and refrain from unveiling what he knows about genetics and personalized medicine? Would our mission succeed or would Romeo drink from the poison?

The time is short and opportunity is fleeting. Please join me for the second chapter in the adventures of TMS-2 mission in exactly a week.

Dr. Shahar Madjar is a urologist working at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital. He sees patients in Laurium, Houghton and L’Anse. Contact him at smadjar@yahoo.com.

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