Japan, 2016- Hiroshima’s Peace memorial Museum is dedicated to the lives of the victims of the Atomic bombing in 1945, with survivors whose lives were altered irrevocably.
While the museum had a collection of items like any other would, what struck me was how they narrated the entire bombing in a way, that didn’t restrict itself to just audios, videos and text. The exhibit also had life size figures that depicted the physical and mental trauma that people had faced at that time. This opens doors for a generation that hasn’t witnessed such a gory act, to be able to fully understand the gravity of the of the situation.
It was the summer just after my 10th board exams. As I walked through the exhibit, all the history lessons learnt in class faded away in comparison to what I learnt here. Yes, I knew the textbook sequence of events. But did I know how it could have felt? A poem we had learnt in school recited itself in my mind -
“The morning stretched calm, beautiful, and warm.
Sprawling half clad, I gazed out at the form
Of shimmering leaves and shadows. Suddenly
A strong flash, then another, startled me.
I saw the old stone lantern brightly lit.
Magnesium flares? While I debated it,
…. marred with suffering, but she made no sound.
Silence was common to us all. I heard
No cries of anguish, or a single word.”
A doctor’s journal entry
– Vikram Seth
It was then, that the poem made true sense. The point of the exhibit as well as the poem was not to necessarily show the loss of Japan as a nation, but to show the loss of humanity as a whole in the name of war and how we need to make sure that no matter happens, we don’t lose ourselves as humans in the process.