A Note on "A Bright Light"

A

s some of you probably already know, my mother is an atom bomb victim, which makes me a second generation atom bomb victim 原爆二世. Interstingly enough, this is an actual status in Japan, where if I was registered, I’d be eligible for certain medical benefits. But that’s not the point. As someone who was directly affected by the atom bomb, I have very strong feelings about it, just as Koreans whose relatives were forced into labor–especially as comfort women–and Chinese whose family were in Nanjing when the Japanese army raped and pillaged and murdered civilians will have strong feelings about their sufferings.

In any case, three years ago when my mother died, I gave a eulogy at her funeral that was, in part, a synopsis of her fateful day in Hiroshima. As this is the 60th anniversary of the bomb, I thought I’d write a slightly more detailed version of the eulogy, but as it turns out, I am fleshing it out much more than I had intended. Why is it that memories can trigger such verbosity. I find myself recollecting many of the stories my mother had told me over the years of her life in Hiroshima as well as what happened on August 6th. I hope you guys don’t mind as I set down in words these recollections. I believe that in many ways, blogs are our oral histories in real time. But it can also be a repository of our memories–as flawed as they may be–as well as a place to record the recollections of those who can no longer record them for themselves.

As the only offspring who spoke Japanese, I became the repository of my mother’s life story. I wish I had been more aware of the value of her stories when I was younger and the memories fresher in my mind. I wrote previously about the scars she still bore from that day. “A Bright Light” is not a verbatim transcription of my mothers stories. Rather, it is a collage of the various stories she had told me of her life in Japan. As the talkative kid in our house, I became my mother’s conversation partner on many nights, and I heard a number of stories: funny, sad, always interesting. (You youngins out there should also talk with your parents and find out their stories, if you haven’t done so already.) While the content is consistent with what she had told me, I have woven it together into a narrative so I won’t bore you guys to death…

Speaking of which: I am not one for e-props and I write mostly for myself, but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t care about comments. I don’t particularly get a lot of them, but the number of comments for the first two installments have been unusually low, which could suggest little interest in the topic. Oh well, I will still write it, if only to set down a personally important part of my mother’s history.

“A Bright Light” Next: The Hand of God

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