It was a Sunday afternoon and I was perched in the library with my favourite writer. I was going through this interesting read called, ‘The Island of Rooms’. With all the enthusiasm creeping out of me, the loose cannon-balls of mystery I sat, reading on. As I turned the pages, the story deepened with characters changing rooms, some losing and some finding new abodes. They were people like you and me, but on a faraway land where the rooms were not like ours, they could shape-shift and reject the people who chose to live in them. It was intriguing to me how the rooms would’ve communicated with the others. And what would be the troubles of people who were kicked out or who voluntarily chose to stay on the streets as they realised these venomous rooms were their masters.
As it unfolded to me, the story of the rooms dropped in its importance when I came across a photograph. A polaroid sized photo that read ‘To Mercy with Love’. Now, that intrigued me even more. Yes, it drove a shiver down my spine. I was staring at the moon and the ocean waves that had been captured, wondering where this location would be and it suddenly changed. The image transformed into a serene beachside, with a campfire. There was no one around the campfire but a few bottles of beer. I am not an alcohol lover, so I passed on the brand.
I still couldn’t make sense to how the image turned into a campfire from the moon and waves. After a moment of staring, the campfire was surrounded by two people. Their silhouettes were deeper than their bodies. One of them wore a green shirt and the other a purple dress. The boy was holding a Spanish guitar. My brain was now running into a mode of frenzy which I couldn’t fathom.
‘How is this picture changing every few moments? What’s happening to the island of rooms? Am I going crazy? Is this some kind of witchery?’ All these questions in my mind were planting bombs of untimed anxiety. And within a moment, I was flummoxed to see the picture change shape again. The boy was now standing and singing to the girl. How do I know that he was singing? I realized he was singing as I could hear it. The voice of the boy reverberated the Beatles,
‘Let me take you down,
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields,
Nothing is real,
And nothing to get hung about,
Strawberry Fields Forever’
(You can check this song at the end of the story | And don’t forget to drop in your ratings!)
My palms were sweating now. The image was speaking to me. The sounds were so clear. Every second moment as I tried making sense of what’s happening, it changed. My mind could not process correctly of the events. The rooms were masters to the people in the story I get it. But what’s with the sounds in an ever-changing image. What’s it trying to tell me? Or am I just a crazy nitwit. But did I have time to think about all that when a thrilling photograph lay in my hand?
The music faded as gently as a feather sliding down a silk scarf. I focused my attention on the image. It changed. The boy is now holding the girl by her waist. The gentle swings of motion start appearing. They are dancing now to the winds that caress them. It was getting more and more real. Moving images?! I had to get to the very depths of this. What’s crawling into me? Did I eat properly this morning?
As the dancers slowly kissed and caressed each other, my taste was going numb. I felt as if the whole world would come to shuddering halt and I’d wake up from a sleep so deep that I forgot how long it’d been. But that was not the case. I had to clear my head of this nonsense and focus, as the image in my hands said something else. The couple was enchanting. They came into my sense like adrenaline shooting through the bloodstream.
As I tried to squint through the image, a sudden sound of cracking. It was a thunderous roar of the clouds. The weather was changing. The campfire was swivelling end to end as the winds grew sharper. The power of love had shown its destiny. Or at least, that’s what I felt. The two of them now breathing heavily. I could hear each sound, crystal clear. It was as if the photograph was with Dolby digital speakers attached to it. As the thunderous uproar grew and it started raining. The couple started running. The ran all the way to a little shack by the beachside that was still open.
‘Where is this little beach?’, I thought. And suddenly something struck me. My uncanny brain got an unimaginable answer out of the loose ends of wit. ‘Is there some connection between the Island of rooms and this photograph?’ After all, this is a beach, and islands have beaches. With this thought, all I could do was try to focus on the photograph again. The little shack was giving them shelter from the sudden storm. The couple grew closer. Their bodies wet and their emotions pouring like the water in the rain. Who told me this? I could feel it. The photograph was really messing with my mind and body. But why did it choose me? I couldn’t care any less.
As the couple tried to settle into the little place, bam. It changed again. There was a slow movement in the bushes at the backside of the shack. The sounds grew louder and the movement intense, there came out a man with an eye-patch. He threatened the couple to get out of his hiding and leave him alone. The couple begged him for mercy. The man with one eye was someone who couldn’t understand mercy. He pushed the boy to the ground and went for the girl.
Man! Was this image not turning into a rollercoaster of events. I still couldn’t make sense of how it all is happening. But I had to stay hooked. I had no other choice. After all, who gets to see such images in a book titled ‘Island of Rooms’? I mustered the courage to dive back in and check on the couple that had enchanted my being.
As I turned my attention back to the image, the boy had pushed the patchy man away from his love. He flung him far enough to make a move outside the shack. In a frenzy, the couple evacuated the shack and took a run on the stormy beach. The image started to scatter. It was almost as if everything was becoming dizzy. I had to hold on to my senses and try to concentrate. But it was time.
‘Noah! Noah!’ called a scream, the most irritating voice I had ever registered. I was greeted with a slap on my head by Ron, my clever friend who skips the library ‘coz he can. I was pissed at him. I usually am, but today was different. The ‘Island Of Rooms’ had betrayed me, or had I done injustice to it by sleeping off at the very beginning of it?
Well, who cares. It was a refreshing read anyway. I mean, who gets to see a full motion image in a book called ‘Island Of Rooms’ anyway?
– ‘To mercy with love’
I’ll see you around on another summer Sunday, reading and dreaming a story full of life.