Friday, 8 September 2006

the island part 2

The tunnel that lead through the Island’s old Venetian fortress swallowed up tourist after tourist as they made their way into its darkness.

Then it was my turn.

As I emerged from the other side of the tunnel I was greeted by sunlight and a cluster of what would have been homes to the inhabitants. Someone had installed new shutters on a few of the empty windows and painted them in bright colours. This optimistic welcome, the sunshine and the brightly painted shutters were just as the book described.

Although many of the cottages had begun to fall apart the Market Place, the heart of the Island stood firm and solid. As I walked past a building with a large open front I noticed that the large oven and the heavy concrete counter inside would have baked and sold the Islander’s daily bread.

Many of the decaying buildings had been fenced off. These dwellings had stood empty for 50 years and buffeted by wind and rain had become unstable. I knew it was for safety but I winced when I understood that I would not be able to get as deep inside the Islander’s habitat as I had hoped. I searched for the signs of the hurried abandonment described in the book, doors left ajar, tables left with their settings in place, unmade beds; the Islander’s had been in shock when they were told that they were cured and that they could return to the mainland. According to the book, many had neglected to pack away their belongings and had simply uped and gone when the boats arrived to carry them back to where they had come from.

There were no such signs. To much time had passed and too many people had passed through this Island between then and now for evidence like that to remain.

As I continued around the Island I came to a steep precipice. This too had been fenced off. When I looked down into the moody waters, I realised that this place was also described in the book. This would have been where the more desperate of the inhabitants contemplated ending their lives by jumping onto the rocks below.

The last point of call was the mass grave. There were no head stones, just un-level ground where the dead had been buried on top of the dead. I was not the only person who searched around, in vain for a list of names of those who were buried here.

At one point I took moment to myself with no one else around. I contemplated what it must have been like to be exiled to a place like this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey,nice blog!!! Won't you check out this website I found where you can
make a little extra on the side... wink wink ;) Visit Our Site