And yet I sometimes forget. Today was one of those days. I was talking to one of my students who is in her 50s about my trip to Hiroshima last month and when I said we spent the day in the atomic bomb museum, I asked her if she had ever been there.
"I was born in Hiroshima. Eight years after the bomb."
The blood stopped in my veins. How could I have forgotten that this was a very real event that was only a few heartbeats ago? This is the country that still carries the burden of the memory heavily and silently. And we treat it almost as fantasy from history books, something we must memorize and feel a momentary twinge of something-we-don't-know-what, then go on about our lives.
Hiroshima is now a beautiful city, bursting with liveliness, a testament to the spirit of the people here, but it remains a bold statement against nuclear weapons with a large section of the city still devoted to the evidences of the bomb.
She told me her family's story. Her father worked for the military in Hiroshima and was sent out on an assignment that day at 6 am, coming back later that night. His wife was killed and never found. He remarried and she was born. Her voice was gentle, calm and factual. I was frozen.
We talked a bit about what the experience was like for me, a Chinese American. My people were collectively the saved, the savior, the destroyer, the guilty, the merciful.... my brain couldn't stop jumping back and forth, but my heart just hurt. All I know for certain is that it should never happen again. Ever. We can't create peace with explosions and burning and cancer.