The Hiroshima Chronicles
The Summer heat of Hiroshima, 2017 was searing. It was as if the particles of the air were charged with some microwavable quality of the aftermath of the atomic explosion. The buildings retained a staunch industrial vibe of the post-war era and were slabs of concrete put together – ugly but utilitarian. The saving grace was that the oysters were gargantuan and as big as my face. I do not exactly have a very small face. Although, that, the oysters, may in actuality been a result of mutative elements.
Trying to better understand God’s will for my life, I had flown into Tokyo on the wind tip of a typhoon and had transited to Hiroshima, where a calm belied the electric-blue and very clear sky in the week preceding my 34th birthday. My purpose there, or so I thought, was to present some academic papers as part of the 72nd memorial celebrations of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, to promote world peace and equality. However, as I sat in a room, which had a horrendous vase featuring some sort of phoenix, and which was filled with overtly pretentious academics, some of whom had blatantly decided to quote Wikipedia and Home Living magazine as part of their exegesis, I was filled increasingly first with existential questioning, and then with the thought that there was most likely something more to my visiting Hiroshima. There are usually never any coincidences in life, and we are often brought to particular places to fulfil some God-ordained appointments in those places.
That night, the real work began. Hiding my rosary in the pocket of my cardigan I started to walk along the riverbank where my lodging was located, and as I walked, I prayed the decades of the Rosary.
When the atomic bomb fell in Hiroshima in 1945, it obliterated some 140000 citizens. This was followed by another 74000 in Nagasaki three days later. (After the A-Bomb, Guardian.com) Nagasaki is the site where 26 martyrs of the Christian Faith were executed in 1597. (Visit-Nagasaki.com) Now that is a substantial number of souls whom do not have anyone to pray for them and make reparation for.
A funny thing happened in Hiroshima. I was completely caught up with the need to pray for souls and to pray for peace. Somehow, at the back of my mind was the idea that sometimes Holy Souls from Purgatory would visit the Faithful and request for prayers. For example, St. Padre Pio would often have the Holy Souls climbing the mountain of the monastery to visit him. One of the days, I was praying the rosary in the rented dwelling, when I heard someone knock on the door. Opening the door, I thought, “Oh! Is this what happens when Holy Souls visit and request for prayer?” We engaged each other in conversation and it turned out, that the person was actually a door-to-door insurance salesperson. Therein stems the need for deeper prayer and greater discernment. Also, the reminder that God reveals Himself as He chooses to the individual in different ways.
While I would never know the impact of my work, God in His infinite wisdom knows what He is doing. Peace Cathedral – it’s pity that it was under renovations when I visited. However the words of St. John Paul II ring true: “War is the work of man.
War is destruction of human life.War is death. To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future. To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war. To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace.”
By Brian Bartholomew Tan
Photos: Writer’s own