The window of my bedroom faces that huge wooden house which is said to be on the National Register of Historic Places. It must have gone through both WW1 and WW2. What happened to the people living in the house during the wars? Who were they? Did they have a good life, for the most part? Any tragedies happened to these families?
I created different scenarios, at one time it might be a wealthy family with several children who were taught at home. The scene of them sitting at the dining table enjoying their evening meal occurred in my mind. A light laugh could be heard occasionally. Most likely from the father. The children were well mannered and the tone between them was gentle and pleasant. The lighting from the chandelier made the whole living room look glorious. It was all bright and harmonious. How long did it last, until the war broke out?
The old house reminds me of the novel titled “If the walls could talk” by Yi Shu, a Hong Kong writer, also named Isabel Nee Yeh-Su. The walls must have overheard the whispers and witnessed both the great and rough time those families had gone through, or were they related, generations? The walls know the stories, if only they could tell.
The vintage curtain is always pulled aside, the light glowing. The image of a woman could be traced. She might be sitting in a floral print armchair, the colour has faded already.
The little room belongs to the past no doubt, the original decoration is preserved. A few black-white photos suit the dark-green wallpaper well. It is her retreat, oh retreat, it makes me think of the attic room, which is Mrs Dalloway’s retreat. Strangely, amongst all the scenes taken place in Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece “Mrs Dalloway”, it is when Mrs Dalloway making her way to the attic room that made my mind wander wildly. The silence, the loneliness, it pushed me back to the past, a hot London day in June 1923.
“Like a nun withdrawing, or a child exploring a tower, she went, upstairs, paused at the window, came to the bathroom. There was the green linoleum and a tap dripping. There was an emptiness about the heart of life; an attic room.”
However, the little room in the old house is a different sort of retreat. It is her escape from the world she does not always fit in. She is too kind, her heart too soft so it gets hurt too often. Here her soul settles down, no worries, no concerns. Snuggling up in a corner of the armchair, she is drowned in the ocean of books. A green vintage dress on the side table is waiting to be mended. No hurry. Sometimes she lifts her head, feeling puzzled. It is so dark outside, her eyes rest on the trees, then on the snow.
At that moment, our eyes meet, the two souls wandering at midnight. Faint and distant. We cannot see it properly. We can only feel it.
Thank you for reading, take care.
(The pictures were taken in Oslo, Fredrikstad (Norway) and Stockholm in 2017/2018)