Friday, 17 August 2012


       - a story of pain

They were all old, those who had gathered in the room. Daniel, 55, looked through his frameless glasses at the different old faces. He had braved it to come this far. He had done it to make amends for the past. Reiko Yamada the 77 year old grandmother who held her grandson’s hand tight to her chest looked quite angry at Daniel. With a few of her teeth missing her words were not all very clear and yet she made it a point to speak slow; emphasizing every word that she intended to hit Daniel with like an arrow. “I would like you to know that some of those who lost their family members in the bombings will never forgive the United States no matter how many of your likes come to say a sorry.”
Daniel knew that he had to take it all tight lipped. His grandfather, the former US President Harry Truman had authorized the atomic bombing of Japan during the World War II and today Daniel was in Tokyo taking his first small good step towards healing those old wounds. He lowered his eyes in regret to the old woman’s words. He couldn’t expect those 77 year old ears to catch up with an apology. He knew that it should have all never had happened in the first place. Sixty seven years back Hiroshima had gone up in flames on the 6th of August and just two days later Nagasaki too was engulfed in the black smoke.
It had taken him more than half his life to gather courage to come to the land were annually thousands of people gathered to remember the 1945 atomic bombings which were estimated to have killed more than 2,00,000 people.
It was true that this visit of his was in response to an invitation to heal but deep down it had been his desire to apologize. The moment filled his ears with a lot of painful stories.
Nobuo Miyake, 83, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing came and stood in front of Daniel. Miyake had seen it all and survived to understand the futility of war. His eyes had a deep understanding of the lack of understanding in this world. There were no words his mouth wanted to speak, only a smile, or was it a scoff, Daniel wondered. The stillness of the silent moments made Daniel uneasy. He had to fill in that void. The no-sound moments were making wounds on his conscience. There was need for clarity. He had to say something to release himself from the burden of pain caused. So what if he was not responsible for it all. There was an underlying connection in all mankind. Even a small self inflicted wound on the little finger affected the entire body, mind and spirit. That had, in fact been a large wound, an irreversible wound, a wound that was causing excruciating pain generation after generation. To balm his soul, he muttered, “There are no right decisions in wars”. He managed to break the embarrassment of the silence.
Yet silence prevailed. The old eyes with 83 years of experience simply stared in a blank look.
“My grandfather always said that he had made that decision to end the war quickly. That’s what he believed. He was horrified by the destruction caused by those weapons and dedicated the rest of his presidency trying to make sure that it didn’t happen again.” At last he had managed to justify the long past act of his dead old man.
The 83 year old eyes smiled, turned and walked away.
Ruby Malshe

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