when oleander blooms

IMG_0748

I spent my childhood in Nagasaki. It is a small town or was when I was growing up – it was not yet developed, and nature was abundant. In summer, we ran around all day catching bugs and watched fireflies twinkle at night.
In the midst of summer break, on August 9th, we gathered in the school gym and joined the rest of the town for a minute of silence at 11:02. That was the time when the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. We then read stories that were written by the survivors in the classroom. A story about a child missing her parents soon advanced to more gruesome and horrific stories as we got older, and those stories always left me with something that I could not digest.

My grandmother, who was not my biological grandmother, was a young nurse in Nagasaki when the bomb exploded above her head. She happened to be in the basement of the hospital and survived. She never talked about it, but so I was told. She never had her own child and met my grandfather much later.
She attended the memorial ceremony every year until her health declined and could not travel anymore.
Once, I saw her watching the service on TV. She was alone in the room. From behind, I saw her shoulders shook violently and heard her sobbing. She was a tough lady, very strict with us, children, and I was surprised to see her vulnerable like that. I didn’t know what to say or what to do and left her be. I was later told that she had lost many of her friends that day and days after.

When August creeps and I see oleander in bloom, I think of my childhood in Nagasaki – fireworks and Bon dances, and the terrifying scenes under the glistening sun seventy years ago.

 

生まれてから小学校までは長崎で育った。
駅前などもまだあまり開発されていない頃で、路面電車がはしっており、川沿いでは夜になると蛍が見られた。公園でラジオ体操をしたり、林でカブトムシやクワガタを取ったり、冷えたそうめんやスイカを食べたり、そんな夏休みを過ごした。
そして、八月九日は登校日だった。
体育館に集まって校長先生の話を聞き、黙祷し、教室で配られた冊子を読んだ。あの日のことを書いた手記のようなものだったと思う。読んだ後で、説明できない何かが胸に残るような気になったのを覚えている。
八月になって、夾竹桃の花を見かけると、浴衣や盆踊り、線香花火を思い出すのと同時に、七十年前に照りつける太陽の下で亡くなった人達、そして、その後を生き抜けた人達のことを思う。

 

 

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. c2avilez says:

    Such a juxtaposition of the tenderness of life and innocence of childhood coupled with this horrific event. I’m so sorry for your grandmother and for everyone who suffered and suffers because of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. keli471 says:

    I attended my first Bon dance a few weeks ago with my daughter…the ritual touched me deeply and we were able to join in, next year when we go again I will remember your grandmother.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very moving and wonderfully written. I will be traveling to Japan next month and this story will travel with me….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nelkumi says:

      Thank you for visiting. Have a great trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Must have been a terrible experience, thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nelkumi says:

      Thank you for reading it. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful ! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nelkumi says:

      Thank you for reading it and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How I wish that part of history had never happened. But this is a beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mr Tookles says:

    Beautiful post and drawing. Makes me miss Surinam a little bit. Nature is at its prettiest when it’s abundant isn’t it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. agenda19892010 says:

    Oleanders are beautiful ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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