It so happened that my eyes fell upon an old book that I have read long ago: Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Dusting it up and re-reading it was a delight. This old book is special to me. It reminds me of the times when I had read it as a teenager. Today, the pages have gone brown, but the scent on it remains... the youth of life has a little faded but the fun endure. Like a vintage vine, 'the Old Man and the Sea' seizes me.
One of the most difficult parts of any fight is to go back and review the whole of the fight later. History has stories of emperors and worriers repenting after great wars they have won or lost. ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ is a tragedy of a life well fought... it is also the celebration of an effort well done. The beauty of the story is that it leaves no one a victor or a looser. Still, as the skiff slowly pulls into the Havana shoreline, the vibrant angler suddenly looses all his feelings and is very sterile.
Hemingway writes thus: He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy and he went back to the stern and found the jagged end of the tiller would fit in the slot of the rudder well enough for him to steer....He sailed low now and he had no thoughts nor any feeling of any kind. He was past everything now, he sailed the skiff to make his homeport as well, and as intelligently as he could.
The most remarkable portion of the story is when Hemingway describes the old man felling sorry for leaving a fish half-dead. The old man refuses to call the fish ‘half-dead’. Instead, he calls him ‘half-fish’.
The story goes like this: He could not talk to the fish anymore because the fish had been ruined too badly. Then something came into his head. ‘Half-fish,’ he said. ‘Fish you were. I am sorry that I went too far out. I ruined us both. But we have killed many sharks, you and I, and ruined many others. How many did you ever kill, old fish? You do not have that spear on your head for nothing’
Like the old man asking the fish, today I ask myself, ‘How many ‘half-fishes’ have I left on the high seas of daily life, to drift dead later?’
Life is bad when we think of all the killings we have made. Like the old man, I too repent a little while!