Among the eucalyptus-lined paths, cypresses, cedars, and birdsong there stands a sun-tinted fortress with turquoise window panels and doors. It cannot have been a bad fate for a soldier to be positioned on the Île Ste-Marguerite, overlooking the port of Cannes.
Oh no, bad fate was reserved for the prisoners of Fort Royal. And one man had the fate of never seeing the sunlight, never even being identified, and always having to wear an iron mask. As I walked among the sun-kissed houses, now inhabited by youths on summer camp, I could not help but wonder what the man in the iron mask would have thought if he knew his story would become a legend. Perhaps he felt worthless in his cell. Or wronged. Or angry, until his last breath. Or simply forgotten. He would never know that books would be written about him, and movies made – however much digressing from his real story.
But perhaps he would not have cared that much. Perhaps all he would have cared for was to stand a moment under the trees overlooking the boat landing, enjoying simply watching the azure waters and the ships going by. Perhaps he would have thought that people who write books about prisoners instead of trying to capture the blue hue of the water in words have lost perspective of what really matters. That those who are entitled to freedom lose sight of the marvelous world right around them. That freedom makes us forget to live today.