Greetings from Hiroshima: Part 5 – Destiny
by Ben Laycock
After my embarrassing encounter with the Hairy Ainu and my naked midnight moonlit epiphany, I feel I am ready to continue my quest to join the historic annual Hiroshima Day Protest. Being an old-hippy-lefty-ratbag from way back, I have attended many such a rally on the streets of Melbourne Town but this I feel will be the real-deal. Alas my journey is waylaid yet again by my newfound spiritual awareness.
Whilst ambling through some typical nondescript regional city whose name escapes me, I hear the bong of a gong. The sound emanates from atop a small hill, covered in forest; an oasis in a featureless urban desert. Once again my feet lead me on a path into the unknown. Yet again, I lack the will to resist. After spiralling around the hill, the path eventually arrives at a Buddhist Sanctuary with a commanding view of the surrounding smog. Outside sits a monk in saffron robes, rhythmically banging an enormous gong that is twice the size of himself. Whilst I am searching for some deep spiritual meaning to this performance, a shit load of monks appear from all directions and file inside for their evening meal.
One fine day I finally arrive at Hiroshima, yet another drab rural city not unlike any other, knocked up in a hurry out of concrete blocks, the original city having been flattened by a cataclysmic calamity, as you are no doubt aware. At the epicentre of this human induced disaster zone sits a museum that painstakingly documents all that took place at that fateful moment. I am prepared for a shock, and that is exactly what I get. The old city of Hiroshima, like the rest of Japan, was made of wood and paper, a sensible insurance against the perennial earthquakes that plague the place, but obviously no match for other unexpected eventualities. So, as you can well imagine, the entire city ignited instantly, save for one or two brick buildings whose surface melted like glaze on a pot, except for distinct areas in the shape of human beings that shielded the bricks for an instant before the people vaporized completely, leaving nothing but a ghostly shadow on the wall.
Having taken in all I can stomach at the museum I retire to a sheltered nook in the woods, as is my want. Dry leaves make a comfy bed. I am lulled into a deep sleep by the gurgling waters of a babbling brook. At dawn I wipe the sleep from my bleary eyes and follow the rivulet to a little waterfall, just right for a refreshing shower.
Rejuvenated once more I stumble across yet another little path through the forest that leads to a magnificent temple with a commanding view of the surrounding smog, replete with the usual cornucopia of exotic fruits, laid out for the hungry wayfarer.
Today is August the sixth, Hiroshima Day. At the appointed hour in the designated spot I gather with my fellow ‘protesters’, but the locals don’t do protests anything like we do back home. No yelling of slogans and waving of placards, no banging of drums and blowing of whistles. An orderly procession proceeds sedately down the street, all in rows, all adorned with little bibs with words on them, none of which I can decipher. People make incomprehensible speeches, then we all go home.
At least I can say I have done my bit to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, and it seems to be working, the U.S.A. retains to this day, the dubious honour of being the one and only nation to annihilate an entire city in one instant simply to demonstrate that they could.