The Island of Immortality

Korin Alexey: Barge Haulers, 1897

“Row fast!” bellowed Eid as the storm raged on and the waves tried to consume the tiny boat both Eid and Efil were on.

Six months ago, both Eid and Efil were in a bar, chatting up with a sailor who claimed that he had heard of a magical island, The Island of Immortality.

“There, the people live forever and Death doesn’t have the courage to even touch them.” the old sailor said as he smoked his cigarette.

“You’re pulling our legs.” Eid retorted.

“No I’m not. But again, you have all the freedom to judge me. But know this kid, I’m a man who has seen it all. I’m a sailor. That’s what I am.” the old but valiant sailor said as he eyed the both of them.

Six months later, being staunchly finding a remedy for escaping Death, both Eid and Efil, after obtaining various maps and obtaining tales from villagers around, they’d finally pinpointed where the Island of Immortality was located. It was located in a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Rumor had it that any ship that passed that region never made it out.

“Row with all the strength you’ve got Efil!” Eid said. And just as he was about to help Efil row the boat, a huge wave came and wrecked the ship apart.

They blacked out.

Eid came to his senses as he felt the salty sea water in his mouth and a little bit of sand in his nose and ears. As he got up, brushed himself clean, he looked around and took a good look at the surroundings.

He was on an island, a beautiful island with lots of coconut trees and white sand and the beach was beautiful with clear crystal water. Eid looked around for Efil and he caught a glimpse of Efil’s body.

Moments later, after much effort to bring Efil to his senses, they sat staring at the sea, dazed.

“Is this..” Efil coughed and continued, “Is this the Island of Immortality?”

Eid looked around. He saw no one on the island but himself surrounded by the clear crystal sea water and lush coconut trees. Then he turned to Efil and said, “I believe so.”

Satisfied, the both of them sat staring at the sea but a sound from the bushes nearby startled them. For, from the bushes, a bunch of old men emerged, carrying wooden sticks for support and each one of them had this forlorn looking face. They ambled slowly to the shore, passing Eid and Efil, oblivious to their presence.

Each one of them mumbled and muttered like old people do, it made them seem grumpy and distraught at something. Each one of them had bare minimum of cloth on them, and a few of them were naked. They smelt bad. It was so bad that the rotten odour filled both Eid’s and Efil’s nostril to the point they almost vomited.

There was, however one man in the group, who seemed younger and alert. He took notice of them and walked towards them, sighed and tsked.

“You were searching for the Island of Immortality too?” he said as he sighed again.

“Why yes.” said Eid.

The old man sighed and sat next to them. As he sat, the group of old men ambled towards the shore, and started walking in circles. They continued doing so without pausing. Their walk soon turned into a rhythm and they went on walking without stopping for breath.

“What are they doing?” Efil asked.

“That?” the old man asked. The both of the brothers nodded their heads.

“These men, just like you and me, were once searching for the Island of Immortality. They have succeeded in finding it. However, the catch is, you’ll grow old but you’ll never die.”

“But what has that got to do with walking in circles?” Eid said.

The old man grinned, “Well, they say, just like a vulture circles an animal that’s about to die, they believe that circling in such a way might lead to death. Fatigue may lead to the death. Which is true in a way, and had they been waking like that back home, they would have died by now. But try as they might, they can’t. No sword sharper than that of King Arthur’s can pierce their skins for they are immortals now. One can consider it a blessing, but in truth, it’s a curse. They’re sick of living for ages. I’m sick of living for ages. I’ve been alive for 40 years now. I’m tired of doing the same thing over and over again on this bloody island.”

He paused, staring at the group of old men who were still walking in circles. It was as though they were in a mystical trance.

“Immortality” he sighed. “Alas, I too now crave for death..”

As he said that, he walked slowly towards the old man, and joined them walking about aimlessly in circles, awaiting death. And as he walked in circles, he turned around towards Eid and Efil and said, “You may sit there on the shore, but how long would you sit? You too would join us and crave for death once more.”

Such was the story of the Island of Immortality.

(You can also find Sukhbir’s writings on his blog)

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