Friday, October 5, 2018

About Humans


I remember falling into the trap of believing a parent with whom I carpooled for ferrying our children to school when she told me,

“We are relaxed parents.”


One evening when I picked her child up along with my daughter, during the journey, I heard the child say,

“ My mother is going to skin me alive for getting this result. I hate my life.”


I like to believe that when someone says what he or she says, he or she means what he or she says but I know I must not. Also it may be that I have not heard what he or she actually says. I have also caught myself saying things uncharacteristic of me and afterwards, I either mull over them exceedingly or accept that what is said is said just like what is done is done. After being in legal practice for more than thirty years, I have become wary of what clients tell me. But when we act for a client, we have to trust what the client is telling us. I know there are definitely more than two versions of the same story but we have to stick to the version that we are told. If there are aliens, I can understand why they want to destroy the humans. We can be lovable and we can be deplorable. 

I  read several books at the same time, some take longer than others. Usually the e-books and the ones on kindle take a longer time. Some books are more challenging than others thus I like to read a mix match of books from different genres. The Humans written by Matt Haig is one of those reads that keep you going in one sitting. The concept is interesting. This tale of alien invasion is a story about humans as the title is named.


One wet Friday night, Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge. Food sickens him and clothes confuse him even human touch is repulsive to him. He is not from this planet. He has arrived from Vonnadoria, some planet very far away, a place where life is about common good and based around maths, logic and rationality, with no messy emotions to deal with. Professor Andrew Martin, a Mathematician has proved the Riemann hypothesis, a Mathematical conundrum involving prime numbers and  the alien has been sent to Earth to destroy Professor Andrew Martin along with anyone who may have been told about his discovery about the Riemann hypothesis. The alien race believes that it is best for the universe at large if this discovery is kept out of human hands.

The alien that has been sent in disguise as Professor Andrew Martin is reminded this by his race about the humans.

 ‘ The humans are an arrogant species, defined by violence and greed. They have taken their home planet, the only one they currently have access to , and placed it on the road to destruction. They have created a world of divisions and categories and have continually failed to see the similarities between themselves. They have developed technology at a rate too fast for human psychology to keep up with , and yet they still pursue advancement for advancement’s sake, and for the pursuit of the money and fame they all crave so much.

    You must never fall into the human’s trap. You must never look at an individual and fail to see their relation to the crimes of the whole. Every smiling human hides the terrors they are all capable of , and are all responsible for, however indirectly.'


After living amongst the humans, the alien disguised as Professor Martin begins to like them and he wants to be amongst them. He has discovered music and poetry and he likes Emily Dickinson who said this : “ I dwell in possibility.” He has come up with advice for a human and they are intended for Professor Martin's teenage son , Gulliver who is going through a difficult time of his life. Here are some of his statements.

“ Irony is fine, but not as fine as feeling.’

“ History is a branch of mathematics. So is literature. Economics is a branch of religion.
“The news should start with mathematics, then poetry, and move down from there.’

“ Tragedy is just comedy that hasn’t come to fruition. One day we will laugh at this. We will laugh at everything.”

“ A paradox. The things you don’t need to live – books, art, cinema, wine and so on – are the things you need to live.

"Technology won't save human kind. Humans will."

The book was published in 2014. According to the author, Matt Haig, he first had the idea of writing this story in 2000, when he was in the grips of panic disorder. Back then human life felt as strange for him as it does for the unnamed narrator. He ‘was living in a state of intense but irrational fear’that meant he couldn’t even go to a shop on his own – or anywhere – without suffering a panic attack. The only thing he could do to gain a degree of calm was read.  In an afterword at the back of the novel, Haig  writes,
It was a breakdown, of sorts, though as R.D Laing (and later Jerry Maguire) famously said, breakdown is very often breakthrough and , weirdly,  I don’t regret that personal hell now.”
 Haig truly believes in the power of fiction to save lives and minds. He found that reading and writing helped so he became a writer. 
I discovered that words and stories provided maps of sorts, ways of finding your way back to yourself.”

But The Humans was not his first book. The Humans is a wonderful story that is in essence about humans and the vulnerability of human relationships and the emotions and  bittersweet love that consume humans.