For the last two weeks I’ve been struggling. Struggling to concentrate or do anything. It’s my friend K’s fault! She gave me the most amazing book for my birthday and I have been shaken, enthralled and swallowed whole by it. I read a lot, but not too many books have had the effect that Mariam Petrosyan’s The House, in Which… has had on me. I cannot put it down and when I do, all I can think about is The House.
My friend chose this book very carefully. And as hard as it is to cater to the literary taste of another person, she hit my bulls eye with this one. The writer’s words paint such a vivid story of a disabled children’s boarding school that I feel part of it. Of the struggle of the individual, the fights of the collective, the clashes of the rules, the sparkles of good and the damp blanket of evil. I find myself thinking about it all the time. And no wonder, because it is not only the author who is playing with me, but K, who has chosen to hide puzzles and games among the pages for me.
One of these tasks that I had to perform was to draw. To showcase the drawing I would have done on the wall of one of the notorious rooms in the school. Now it is quite different to live and breath the story, and quite another to be asked to become part of it. To become one of those suffering character that painted his hopes and desperation on that wall. I thought a lot about it, but the thinking did not help. When I closed my eyes I did not see anything. And then I thought I’d just pick up my brush pen and see what would happen.
The bed was the first thing that appeared. Then I wanted to draw a whale that was about to swallow it up whole. Like the one that swallowed up Jonah. Then instead of a fin horns and spikes started to appear. Before I knew it he had mighty arms, claws and legs bent, ready to jump. This was me. The other scribbles were the ones I imagined were already there, drawn by the other kids who are my roommates.
K laughed when she saw it. She immediately christened it Potato Frog. At first I though it was an insult. But the more I think about it, the more I like it. The creature looks scary at first, ready to eat you up and take you to the fiery netherworld. And then again, when you think about it, it is as vulnerable and fragile as the kids in the story.
I can report that I passed the test. I am not sure what lies ahead in the book or in the puzzles that K has hidden for me. All I know is that I cannot wait to find out!