The Spirit of Honouring Hiroshima Past
On August 6th 1945 at 8:15 the partitions on the hull of the Enola Gay quietly part. It’s a painless birth to a short and eventful life: 44 seconds later the ‘Little Boy’ unfurls its payload, 64Kgs of uranium-235. For a millisecond, above the barracks, rice fields, and playgrounds, there are two suns in the sky. Then one is gone.
Without a wail, Hiroshima hemorrhages 40,000 souls. A black-hole forms and the wailing begins; within 24 hours a vortex of fire and smoke claims that number again. And again, over the coming months 66,000 wilt and crisp amid the black rain, burning from the inside out.
Swoop Back to the Present
On January 16th 2015 a little old man in a cap shuffles his way down to the Peace Park. At 8:15 the bell in the clock tower chimes. He prays at his parents’ grave. He shuffles over to the river by the Peace Dome and holds aloft tufts of bread.
From the trees above an excited flurry of wings and tweets fills the air. Squadrons of sparrows descend onto his outstretched, weathered hand. A joyous ritual marking our creaturely kinship and the passing of time.
He’s famous now, I know because he told me. He asks me where I am from. ‘England’, I reply. He smiles and slowly nods. He takes out his smartphone and shows me the sparrow photos he uploads to facebook. In his stream tumble the faces of countless friends: foreigners, old Japanese men, pretty girls in bright kimonos. He struggles to locate his own photos. It is a moment of understated joy. For me too, I don’t need to see the pictures; I have the wonder of him here in front of me. Over the years, how many people have shared this wonder, taken his photo and exchanged a few words?
I catch myself thinking, what would he give to have chalked-up an ordinary life, an unremarkable pensioner with a one digit friend list? But it doesn’t do good to dwell. His warm, stoic countenance asks more of me. Might have beens should make us thankful for the now, for what is.
This moment, this random conversation in a weak winter sun, my brother chuckling at my side, the sparrows whirring overhead. After all so much can change in the blinking of an eye, the breaking of a wave, the unfurling of a sparrow’s wing.