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A one day trip to Hiroshima gave this author and her son some poignant moments, and some lessons from a tragic chapter of history.
Hiroshima is a city the world will always relate with the destruction caused by the atomic bomb blast during the second World War.
Now modern and friendly, the city was completely destroyed and devastated on August 6, 1945. This summer, just before the 69th anniversary of the A-bombing, my son and I visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum on a pleasant sunny summer day.
Hiroshima is a one-hour journey by bullet train (called Shinkansen in Japanese) from our home town –Kobe. My seven-year old son was thrilled and enjoyed his time in the bullet train. Since it was a one-day trip and we had limited hours in Hiroshima, we rushed to board the streetcar bound for the Museum. It is located near the famous T-bridge called Aioi Bridge, which was the epicenter of the atomic bomb.
Our eyes couldn’t stop turning moist when we saw the famous dome’s scaffolding, which survived the drastic atomic bomb blast. Reading about it in history books and actually seeing it in reality is a completely different emotional experience. Holding my son’s hand and walking on ground zero towards the Peace Park was an unforgettable moment. It was both fascinating and terrifying.
Outside the museum, a few retired social workers were happily cleaning the streets. The Japanese are fanatical about cleanliness and are proud to keep their city clean. A bunch of elementary school students who were on a field trip waved at us and we cheerfully reciprocated. They also posed for a picture for us! The city had a radiant and carefree atmosphere and it was difficult to believe that it has been re-built from scratch and had endured an A-bomb blast.
The museum made history come to life. Inside the museum, artifacts in the form of actual leftovers from the bombing explicitly explained the aftermath of an atomic bomb explosion. We could feel the immense pain and sufferings of the survivors; we felt their sharp burns from the heat and fire; we could hear their crying, helpless voices asking for help. I could picture myself folding those paper cranes with tragic little girl Sadako, who was affected by the radiation and thought folding a thousand cranes would cure her.
Several pictures of the mushroom cloud and life-size replicas of the bomb Little Boy were thought provoking for my candid son. He still couldn’t understand the reason behind this violent explosion and was wondering why human beings had to hurt each other. Why we cannot co-exist peacefully, he wondered.
The in-house souvenir shop offered many books in Japanese and English on the tales of the survivors. My son bought a book named The Lunch Box, a story about the unconsumed lunch of a boy that turned into a black solid box after the blast. My son immediately recalled the real lunch box artifact he just saw inside. The Japanese staff and the volunteers were very friendly, helpful and kind. We were asked to write a peace message for humanity at the exit.
People in Hiroshima don’t seem to harbour any grudges or hatred. Instead, they gave us hope and are actively promoting peace in the world. Japan is nuclear-free since September 2013. Their eyes reflected only one emotion – pure forgiveness. It is said that if you don’t know history then you don’t know who you are. The visit made me learn a few precious lessons – love, peace and forgiveness and touched my soul deeply.
Top image of paper cranes at Hiroshima via Shutterstock. All other images used belong to the author.
Meenu believes in enjoying little things in life. Very social but at the same time
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