The protagonist Professor PW Vanderleyden was a man obsessed with The Hunting of the Snark. Alice Liddell his 21 year old mistress with her Wonderland magic delivered him the Snark for the price of his soul and his seed. I thought of making the story happily-ever-after for PW, Alice and their baby.
But I felt very strongly that there is a more important story to tell. One of my best-loved books on African literature is Cry, The Beloved Country, written by Alan Paton in 1948.
A priest in the novel says, “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again…It suited the white man to break the tribe, but it has not suited him to build something in the place of what is broken.”
Yes. Things get broken because such is life. Idealism, trust, love – they get shattered in the ordinary course of living because life is not perfect. No human being is perfect and imperfect people break perfect things. It is the picking up that makes us stronger, wiser, more human. It is the rebuilding – forgiveness – that is a testament of love.
Can a person ever forgive a huge, deep hurt? I would say, depends on the love.
In Catching Infinity, The Wife forgave. Many would say, she had no choice because she was completely dependent upon her flawed husband (she was unworldly and uneducated). But she forgave because she understood human nature, and human nature is essentially Love.
This drawing is from Buddha Doodles which sums up forgiveness and love:
The later chapters of the book chronicles The Wife’s emotional rollercoaster. She had done nothing wrong, lived her best life for him yet he betrayed her trust wilfully, put her through hell, hurt her immeasurably and destroyed a part of her forever because of the darkness and the poison in him.
Change, terrible change, had come into her safe life. Her adored husband had become a stranger who wore an ugly mask. He had brought someone into their pure world. It struck a deep fear in her heart. Fear and pain change people – they often make decent people do terrible things because as animals, it is in our primal nature to lash out when we are in pain or in fear.
But The Wife held on to love because in her words, that was how humanity was fought and won. It is through Love – the mother law that spawned the four Fundamental Laws of Nature, the Cosmological Constant and Space-Time – that we live our best lives.