Saturday, 7 May 2011

Chapter 4 : 17 Years Old [ "I can't even sing anymore . . ." XII ]

The School Excursion

I was thinking it would be very difficult for me to go on the school excursion. But it seems I can go after all. Mom will come with me and Dad will look after the house.

A Record of My Impressions
Pigeons and me: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

"Po-po-po" and "Kuru-kuru" the pigeons were cooing. At first they didn't come close to me (I think they were afraid of the wheelchair.) But when I held out some bird food, they came and perched on my shoulders, my arms, and my head. It struck me that both the pigeons and the people who dropped the bomb were very calculating types.

I went round the Peace Memorial Museum a few minutes ago. It was dark inside. Only the exhibits are brightly lit, so it's filled with a weird and heave kind of atmosphere. There's a model on display showing the time of the bombing. A mother and a child in tattered clothes were escaping from something holding hands. All around them was red with fire. It was the same color as the blood plasmawhich oozes out after I fall over and cute myself.

"It's revolting!" Mom muttered behind me. She turned her face aside and said, "I shouldn't say that, should I? I should say 'I feel sorry for them,' because they didn't want to be like that."

I didn't think it was revolting. That was not everything about the bombing. That was not everything about the war. A simple child like me, who doesn't know anything about war, was pretending to be tough like that.

On display were the cranes folded by Sadako, who died of A-bomb sickness. They were made using a kind of transparent red wax paper.

I don't want to die! I want to live!
I felt as if I could hear Sadako's cries. But, what kind of disease is A-bomb sickness? There are people who still suffer from it after 35 years, so is it hereditary disease? I asked Mom, but she didn't know exactly.

There was a stuffed horse with keloids, tiles burned by heat rays, 1.8 litre sake bottles melted into limp shapes, some scorched black rice in an aluminum lunchbox, battered clothes people wore during the War, etc.

The reality of it all puts a merciless pressure on you. We didn't experience the War. But we can't turn away and pretend we don't know anything about it. Whether we like it or not, we have to admit that many people were killed by the bombing in Hiroshima, Japan. I think the best memorial for those who died is to vow that we will never let such a tragedy happen again.

After a while, I realized there were some elementary school children from Hiroshima inside the Museum. There were looking at the exhibits and me in my wheelchair with the same expression, as if they were looking at something horrible. I thought I shouldn't be concerned about other people's eyes.
"Perhaps a wheelchair and a wheelchair rider are unusual things to them."
Thinking like that, I could concentrate on the exhibits.

Suzuki-sensei called us and we went downstairs. I felt relieved to escape from the uncomfortable eyes and the heavy atmosphere.

Outside it had started drizzling. Mom tried to put a raincoat on me as I sat in my wheelchair. I tried to stop her, saying, "That's not cool." But nobody was saying anything, so I reluctantly did what she said. She placed a towel on my head as well.

The fresh greenery in the park was nice. The trees were all wet from the rain. They were shining under the cloudy sky. The fresh yellow-green leaves of the camphor trees looked beautiful against their black trunks. I wanted to sketch them.

We went deeper into the green trees and came to the Peace Bell. The rounded roof supported by four pillars represents the Universe. The dying lotus leaves in the pond surrounding the bell also seem to have a history.
"Anyone who wants to ring the bell, come over here," said one of the teachers.
I glanced over. Terada-san and Kasuya-kun rang it.

DONG . . . DONG . . .

The sound faded away into the distance with a lingering resonance.
"I'm listening to the sound of this bell wishing for 'peace' so I should do whatever I can, even though I won't ring the bell."
Thinking like that I closed my eyes and prayed.

Because of the rain, the water in the Ohta River was the color of earth. After the bomb was dropped, it was filled with wounded people. They were crying, "It's so hot, so hot!" Imagining the scene in my head was scarier than looking at the exhibits in the museum.

The pigeons came and perched on my shoulders and arms one after another. Their feet were soft and warm. They flocked around me pecking at the feed I was holding. There were loads of them. They're feral pigeons, so they're not particularly beautiful. I found one with bad legs. It was walking even though it was disabled one. I obstinately tried to feed only the disabled one. But I couldn't do it very well. There are so many pigeons in the park, I suppose it's only seriously disabled and couldn't walk, like me, perhaps it couldn't live. It struck me that I should be grateful that I was born as a person and can therefore stay alive.

Am I wishing for 'peace' because I'm person who can only live in a 'peaceful' world? That's a rather shameful wish.

After a while, I also felt like giving a piece of bird food to the other pigeons, not just to the one with bad legs. As I looked at the pigeons with their tottering steps picking up the feed, I thought about the sense of 'welfare' that we have in our human world.

No comments:

Post a Comment