What would be the difference should we know we will live till 30 or 80? I’ve read “Never Let Me Know” by Kazuo Ishiguro during my obsessive goal to read Times list of 100 best novels. Recently, I watched the movie made based on the novel. The story telling of the original words with the imagery of good direction and cinematography refreshed my memories and added depth to the flavour. It is a rare occasion when a good book and a good movie come together to a tantalising result that is both bitter with regret and tender to behold with and aftertaste of unsurmountable questions that I cannot even begin to answer. That is how much I love the book.
Under Ishiguro’s master, the science fiction setting becomes a believable reality whose only purpose is to illuminate the relationship of 3 people, Ruth, Cathy and Tommy and their love story. Their fate written since creation by other human beings and the value of their lives is only marked by their body parts, their death is imminent and their days limited. They come from a school called Hallsham, everyone in that school were taught they had only one purpose in life. Everyone knew how long they can live, it is not 80 or 60 or even 40. It would be around 30 or earlier. This is their undeniable dignity with a rumour that if 2 people were really, sincerely in love, it can be deferred.
Imagine living in a world where your destiny is written for you. Would you strive to live life to the fullest or find it pointless to do anything? In that limited timeframe, finding and having love became a more urgent agenda. The love triangle of Ruth, Cathy and Tommy became more regrettable as they battle with limited time for maturity and self realisation, selfishness and resignation, forgiveness and finding truth.
I learnt this through television, Don’t wonder why people go crazy. Wonder why they don’t. In the face of what we can lose in a day, in an instant, wonder what the hell it is that makes us hold it all together.
So what is the difference between us and the children of Hallsham? We who have no idea when we will die, how we will turn out, what our future brings; we who have choices to choose, to have time to improve, to figure things out, to find love. Do we?
I suppose the only difference is we have family, someone gave birth to us. Other than that, anything goes. For those who have a loving family or surrounded by people they love, then life is something you don’t want to let go off. Didn’t someone also say, if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to love. So I have that sneaky feeling, that we are let kites flying in the sky, with one end of the string tied to people who love us and we take turns. We never let it go and they are the anchor that let us fly high.
Dylan Thomas wrote quite simply, do not go gentle into that good night. Don’t you want someone by your side, to cheer you and tell you, fight, fight, fight, there is something to fight for?
Thus, the ingenuity of Ishiguro. The limitation of time and destiny determined sheds all distractions and made life decisions more pronounced. The only way to defer death according to rumours is that they have to be in love, really in love and prove it. So it was rumoured. The undertone of hopelessness only climaxed briefly when the rumour was rebuffed. Only then, did a character screamed briefly for the anguish of time lost while 2 people found their way back to together and the limited time they had left. It was only then that they learnt they never wanted to let each other go and had to learnt how to let go of life without letting go of each other.
I wonder at that. Someone I know who is beloved passed away suddenly recently. He had so many people who loved him and didn’t want to let him go. If life is fair, then maybe i could transfer some years to him for his loved ones. It would make at least a dozen people happy and would have caused no pain in others. But life is as such. So we deal with uncertainties, the future unknown and try to find the courage to live through it. Let there be people that never let you go and if you have them, never let them go. And always let them know.