You May, But Can You?

You May, But Can You?

“May I give it a try, Professor?”

“You may, but the question is can you?” Professor Natalia handed over the script to Viktor, “Messianic oration is for the ones who have a passion, not for brooders.”

Professor Viktor had had enough of the lady. Had it not been for the Russian-English-Spanish cultural exchange program in London, where he represented the former, he would have walked off the stage much before.

“Professor Natalia, the ‘may’ in my question denotes my desire to seek permission, hope my upbringing doesn’t cloud a shadow on my ability?” Viktor couldn’t let her win, his students wouldn’t want him to lose, besides what a spectacle he would make.

“Why are men so predictable? Easily provoked.” She muttered under her breath.

 The practise sessions for the enactment of the play Romeo-Juliet as a part of the cultural extravaganza were proving to be a battle of words between the two professors, each trying to exhibit their command over their common love- the English language.

“Professor Natalia, your ignorance regarding the origin and the transitions the Queen’s language has experienced, is reprehensible. Your cursory knowledge of the language shall inevitably force you to seek permission by using ‘may’ and your ability shall unfailingly be questioned by whether you ‘can.’ Your limited perception of the language has concluded the former word with permission and the latter with ability.”

“Your monologue ‘may’ win your students’ admiration but ‘can’ it stand the test of time? That remains to be seen. Hope this time the transition was vivid.” Her laughter echoed in the auditorium and also within the confines of Professor Viktor’s four-chambered organ.


The swishing satins lined with lavender lace, bodices blooming with their treasure, and linen lining up the skirts were enough to transcend one to the Victorian era of war and romance. The concoction proved fatal for the uncompromising pair. Natalia from Spain and Viktor from Russia became the latest casualty of the funniest language in the world, English.

“May I have the honour of your company for supper tonight?” Viktor succumbed to his heart.

Natalia eyed his handsome features and taut jawline, “Fat chance of that, Professor.”

“You mean a slim chance, isn’t it?” Viktor mocked, cursing himself, leaving a naughty smile on Natalia’s face.


The gala ball descended upon students and their professors with adulterated emotions. Viktor smirked at his condition. He had to confess his feelings for Natalia, it was a ‘do or die’ situation, however, he believed in ‘do before you die.’ The English language did offer options.

 Her midnight blue gown highlighted her beauty and his edginess. “May I have the honour of a dance, Natalia? The war is over, it’s time to …tango, isn’t that what they say in Spain?”

Natalia leashed her joy and said, “No, it takes two to tango.”

“We are… two.”

“Two is a company, Three’s a crowd.”

“Who is the third?” Viktor was lost.

Natalia had won, “The English language, Professor. Our bone of contention.”

Viktor still had a trick up his sleeve, “According to the English grammar, two negatives make a positive. Let’s pay our respect to the language since we are in the Queen’s country. Can we transform your two denials into an affirmation?”

Natalia couldn’t hold her laughter any longer. She nodded positively, “Yeah, right!”

The funny language did play a serious role in their lives.

“May I kiss you?” He whispered.

“You may, but the question is can you kiss me enough….”

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