Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Aioi Bridge



It was my gruffy-voiced History teacher—
Caught in the moment of inscrutable academic flair—
Who concluded his lesson of World War II
By stating that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Ended the war.

He said they were atomic bombs.
Said the U.S. sent a bomb to Hiroshima
Boom!
Then sent a bomb to Nagasaki
Boom!
And more than 150,000 people DIED!
Just like that.
Poof! Gone!
Just like that.

And my History teacher,  in a stance of disinterested bystander
Said these things.
Said them like it was some idle talk on way to the market place.

May be it was the hot afternoon that numbed his senses.
May be it was because of his repeated teachings
That made his shock blunt.
May be....May be...

What my History teacher never knew
Was that that day, I went to our school dormitory
And properly mourned such a calamity.
I thought it was proper to whisper into the darkness
To all those 150,000 plus people and say,
“O Departed Souls, what madness drove me, a fellow human,
To kill you in so cruel a way?
What shall I tell my heart now that I have cruelly killed
By burning the fresh buds that sprouted?”
And I wept into the night
And when a friend overheard me,
Concerned, he asked
To which, in-between sobs
I said that I was mourning Hiroshima and Nagasaki
To which my friend responded,
“That is History! That is the past. You are being over-sensitive!”

I felt offended.
I felt offended because he thought I was not being normal.
I wept more.

My History teacher probably never saw the picture of Hiroshima before 6th August 1945
When it was bombed.
For if he did, I would have felt the tear in his voice.
O! Hiroshima was so full of life; it went about her business;
Like elands on the savannah, Hiroshima enchanted.
See Hiroshima! See Hiroshima in her full spleandour!
See her peoples! More than 90,000 alive, just breathing!
Now see Hiroshima! See the billow of smoke! See the pandemonium!
See the cloud of destruction! See death now! See the 90,000 cindered!
See the eland as small ash, not even the horns spared.
Of course that is history. It is the past, you know.

After I had mourned Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
On the next day, I drew a picture of an eland by the Aioi Bridge
I thought that it was befitting tribute to the departed souls
Because the eland in her beauty would always remind us
Of the beauty of our souls.
The Aioi Bridge is our bridge to everlasting peace.
I hang this picture on my bed to remind myself
To look at the Aioi Bridge.
It is the bridge to find me, to find my peace.


C) Salem Lorot/ echoesofthehills 2014

In response to a prompt by Poet's United 


13 comments:

Susan said...

I am moved to tears, dear Poet, more by your story than by any possible generalization.thank you for the class, the night, the eland and the Aioi Bridge--the best title possible for this poem. What if you had known then what I know now--that the war would have ended without the bombing? That some might consider this now a weapons test? (See http://afsc.org/story/almost-70-years-after-bombings-hiroshima-and-nagasaki) I will keep your poem forever.

Sumana Roy said...

when man is not a human being it's doomsday for mankind...a greatly moving poem...

Jae Rose said...

Having the heart and humanity to grieve for others is a wonderful thing..and how wonderful that you drew that bridge

Sherry Blue Sky said...

First, I was thrilled to see you had written something and posted it at Poets United. Yay! Then I read your story and, like Susan, was moved to tears. Yours was an appropriate response to such wanton destruction. It sounds like the teacher was so numbed by repeating facts year after year that he forgot what he was relating. Sigh. Bless your caring heart. This is a most beautiful poem and I, too, love that you drew an eland at the bridge to honor those victims. You speak with a powerful voice. The world needs your poems, grandson. Koko.

alan1704 said...

This is very moving and full of pain but there is real love and hope in your words. A bridge between love and pain.

Arushi Ahuja said...

this was so moving!! i couldnt stop.. i remember though that when my history teacher taught me this she did cry!! ALthough most reactions are the same as your friends... we see that as past but its barely past ... wasnt the bombing of MH17 almost the same.. maybe at a smaller scale but 1 life is same as thousands.... its not past... we just blind ourselves to the present!!

Moonie said...

A beautiful and solemn echo. History was done by living people!
I feel sorry for those who can not feel sadness over the loss of others.

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder said...

History was created that day..the darkest chapter !...your lines are so touching and poignant... the history teacher, may be that he was seasoned to the calamity for he was to teach the same thing every year... his emotions became numb...

James Toma said...

Oh my, that was the most deepest and touching poem of the day! thank you fellow poet for easing the tears that threatened to spill over the sadness of that event in history. Great job!!!

Gail said...

I am swept away by your words. You honor the fallen.

My father was in World War II and because it was "duty" he stayed. He came home a changed man.

He carefully taught his daughters how to use a gun while he told us the "history". The Bataan death march, the prisoners of war on both sides and those who did not return were all taught along with his interaction with people he was "warring' against. He spared us of the ugliest parts of this war but he wanted us to know the price we all paid while also preparing us for what could come.

Your work is brilliant and heart breaking. My father also mourned.

Salem Lorot said...

Susan,
Thank you so much for your kind comments. I agree with you that the war would have ended without the bombings. If I had known this ( and others) then the tragedy would have been averted. Thank you once again. I am humbled.

Sumana Roy,
Thank you for taking time to read the poem. You are most welcome.

Jae Rose,
Thank you. Yes, the bridge. The bridge to ourselves. Thanks for taking time to read the poem.

Sherry Blue Sky,
Koko, as always, I am humbled. It had been a while since I penned a poem and I felt relieved to have posted it yesterday. Thanks for dropping by, Koko.

Alan1704,
Thank you for visiting. I like your interpretation. I thought I could end on a happy note. You are welcome.

Arushi Ahuja,
Thanks for taking time to read the poem and commenting. Your History teacher is one of the rare breed. The reactions are more the less the same-- the indifference. I agree.

Salem Lorot said...

Moonie,
I couldn't have put it any better. We humans! Thanks for visiting. Welcome once more.

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder,
Thank you for taking time to read the poem and commenting. True, history sometimes makes calamities appear mundane. Such is the position a History teacher finds himself/herself in.

James Toma,
Thank you for finding time to read the poem and leaving your kind comments. I am humbled and you are welcome.

Gail,
You bring in an interesting perspective which is oft forgotten/overlooked. The price that soldiers and others pay in the fields. I agree with you. A great teaching you received from your dad. Many people never know the horror of war and those who have been in the paths of bullets and cannons can tell. Thanks for educating me on that aspect. Thanks for reading the poem and for visiting. You are welcome.

G L Meisner said...

Amazing poem. I am quite moved by the understanding you bring the hope for a better future your words offer even as you speak of the callousness of others.

I am very glad to have read your poem and look forward to reading more.

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