By NOR AIN BINTI JAFAR (Japan)
AN atomic bomb codenamed “The Fat Man” was dropped onto the southern Japanese city of Nagasaki on the northwest coast of the island of Kyushu on August 9, 1945. This man-made disastrous moment remains in history forever.
On a cold winter day last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I brought all three of my kids there because I thought what a better place for kids to learn history than at a museum?
From outside, the building with its small entrance did not look very impressive. As I walked through the door, I was greeted by colourful crane origami hanging from the ceiling all over the entrance hall. And behold, at the centre of that small space was a rusty and damaged wall clock. The clock was said to have stopped working at the exact moment the atomic bomb touched the ground at Nagasaki 74 years ago. I chuckled at the sight, thinking how much the Japanese love to emphasize all these trivial things. Anyway, I snapped a picture first before proceeding down a spiral passage to the main exhibition area.
What awaited me as I stepped down there were collections of eerie artefacts, all damaged, rusty and grey, and preserved for the future generations to look at. As I walked slowly through the visitor’s passage looking at the extensive collection of images that were carefully captured for documentation, I realized I was not prepared for the emotions that came over me.
Horrifying and scary, while sadness and grievance crept in for those civilians who had to suffer the wrath of war. A large number of people were wiped without a trace in an instant from the face of the earth, just like what is depicted in the Marvel movie, ‘The Avenger’s but only that this was real and definitely terrifying to look at.
After the bombing, the local government had to deal with massive city damage, death, and sickness caused by exposure to radiation. They also had to deal with widespread starvation due to the lack of drinkable water, food, and medical assistance to treat a large number of people who survived but suffering from excessive burning skin and other major injuries.
Even as help arrived from other prefectures, many died after the bombing due to injuries and the extreme exposure to radiation. There were lots of incidence of stillbirth, babies born with deformities, and malnutrition.
The after-effects brought on rare kinds of blood cancer even years after the war had ended.
Reading the descriptions, documentation, and collection of poems written by the survivors made me so grief-stricken. I felt grateful that I live in a period where I do not have to go through all of those post-war sufferings.
My head felt heavy after we walked out of the main exhibition, despite the display of colourful illustrations by children pleading for peace in this world.
A message attached to a bunch of colourful crane origami in a park outside the museum attracted my attention. It says, “We pledge not to raise any war and strive to build a peaceful world.” It was written by elementary school children, and there were a few bunches of origami with a similar message on it. It makes me wonder, just for a moment. Will these kids remember their promises when they grow up? And I look at my children, who will one-day play out the future of Malaysia.
And I wonder about wars and history. Why are there so many wars? There is always someone who thinks he is more powerful than the other and more righteous than others. Is it because of the lack of humbleness and humanity that war happens?
Then I thought of how much we have done to instil the message of humanity inside the hearts of our children. Have we emphasized the importance of treating people with kindness, to be patient when tried, tolerant when dealing with differences, and be respectful always to others around us?
We preach and teach about those values in schools and books, but do we show enough examples for them to follow? Do we still scream profanities towards other people when we are treated wrongly, or do we act with a lot of patience and put forth respectful words? Do we need to use the words “bodoh” and “bangang” in daily conversations with friends and family? I see a lot of this in local TV dramas and am very worried that kids will think it is not considered rude to use them in their daily conversations.
These are but only some of the many things I worry about the environment my kids will grow up in. Look at ourselves before pointing at others. Have we been ignorant towards the others due to the colour of our skin, our beliefs, upbringing and status? Have we? Did we?
And whenever I think of history, I always remember the story of the pharaoh (Fir’aun) mentioned in the Quran, whose body is preserved by Allah SWT so that later generations could see and reflect on. I always interpret that verse in the Quran as historical artefacts and documentation that had been preserved by Allah for us ponder upon.
So, if we want a better Malaysia, we have to change the way we react and act. Start small, within ourselves, be conscious of how we use our words, online and offline, how we react and behave with people close to us, our own immediate family, friends, and neighbours. It will take some time to get used to, but once you have the consciousness, you will be surprised at how much you can control your behaviour, and feel calmer. Even if you don’t believe this, it is for your own good to instil it for our younger generation for the sake of a peaceful Malaysia.
Happy 62nd independence day to Malaysia. Sayangi Malaysiaku.
NOR AIN JAFAR is a computer programmer by qualification. She holds an MBA in marketing with a dynamic working experience in various Japanese MNCs. She is currently living in Japan with her family. She contributes regularly as translator in halal affiliated industries in Fukuoka.