NOTE: It says that some language is prohibited. Just add "age" to bond, and you’re fine.
I finally finished “Of Human Bond”- a 700 page book (with tiny
writing) about a very much ordinary life. It seems a lot to dedicate to thirty
years of trite existence.
A boy, Phillip Carey, went through childhood and adolescence
with a clubbed foot, and when he was a man, made many a poor turn in the
winding roads of life. Nothing about him was extraordinary, and it continued on
and on and on for aeons on end. I did gain a few lessons from it though,
surprisingly. The one thing I can say I learned is that Human nature can be put
into words. Not everything needs an explanation. It can be said of man, and man
could understand and empathise. It needed nothing more than being said. I’ve
also realised that all people are intelligent, whether they choose to act it or
not. Sometimes they just lack the means of showing it.
After a decent thirty years of misery, I began to grow
restless towards the last 60 pages or so, counting them down eagerly. It was
with this anticipation that I could appreciate the words so much more, because
they were the final I would read of Maugham’s (the author). I was ever so
frightened of a sad ending, after all the misery Phillip had endured. I had
read enough to anticipate a vicious twist of fate that Phillip had suffered so
commonly, but was shown mercy at last when he could give up all his dreams and
settle down to marry.
The main reason, I think, Mr Mueller asked me to read it was
because I asked him about the meaning of life one day. He smiled, as he does,
and we walked together at lunch while he thought it over. He directed me to ‘Of
Human Bond’ as a means of answering it for myself, and Carey worked it out to
be very much meaningless. Under the right conditions, humans were born. They
lived, and suffered, and died, and then it was over. Knowing this, every pain
brought about by living was dulled, and every joy that could be found in the
world was simple, but without reason. Beauty now had meaning, rather than being
an ideal to be spoken of as aesthesis.
The irony is that the book too place over a lifetime, and
indeed a lifetime it took to read. So it was the realisation Mr Carey made at
the end can be related to my future. I don’t so much believe in happy love
stories as happy endings, for I also realised that love is painful as well as
nourishing. It is the agony of being without a loved one, in opposition to the
relief of being with them anyway. And relief truly is a wretched feeling,
because it means your weary heart had something to yearn for.
I learned that you see beauty with your heart, not your
eyes, and that art is only your view of how things look like. I learned that
“normal” is the rarest thing in the world, because everyone has problems,
whether physical or mental.
To put it short, over the past 5 or so grueling weeks in which
I struggled to keep on reading, it’s finally off my chest. One of the most
boring books I’ve ever read, but a good one all the same. The lessons I learned
will hopefully stay with me for life. I also can appreciate living in poverty,
and those whose chief concern is money (though I detest the idea. Then again,
that’s only because I have enough of it to live on at the very least). I also
learned a decent 240 words or so, which is almost half of my little booklet of
new words I come across. Now that’s worth something, surely?
It’s interesting to note, that a century after it was
written, Maugham still thanks those who made it possible for so many people to
get a hand on his book. For that much, I thank his publishers for bringing it
to Mr Mueller’s light.