INTERVIEWER: Can you describe the events of that morning?
TOMOYASU: I left home with my daughter, Masako. She was on her way to work. I was going to see a friend. An air-raid warning was issued. I told Masako I was going home. She said, “I’m going to the office.” I did chores and waited for the warning to be lifted.
I folded the bedding. I rearranged the closet. I cleaned the windows with a wet rag. There was a flash. My first thought was that it was the flash from a camera. That sounds so ridiculous now. It pierced my eyes. My mind went blank. The glass from the windows was shattering all around me. It sounded like when my mother used to hush me to be quiet.
When I became conscious again, I realized I wasn’t standing. I had been thrown into a different room. The rag was still in my hand, but it was no longer wet. My only thought was to find my daughter. I looked outside the window and saw one of my neighbors standing almost naked. His skin was peeling off all over his body. It was hanging from his fingertips. I asked him what had happened. He was too exhausted to reply. He was looking in every direction, I can only assume for his family. I thought, I must go. I must go and find Masako.
I put my shoes on and took my air-raid hood with me. I made my way to the train station. So many people were marching toward me, away from the city. I smelled something similar to grilled squid. I must have been in shock, because the people looked like squid washing up on the shore.
I saw a young girl coming toward me. Her skin was melting down her. It was like wax. She was muttering, “Mother. Water. Mother. Water.” I thought she might be Masako. But she wasn’t. I didn’t give her any water. I am sorry that I didn’t. But I was trying to find my Masako.
I ran all the way to Hiroshima Station. It was full of people. Some of them were dead. Many of them were lying on the ground. They were calling for their mothers and asking for water. I went to Tokiwa Bridge. I had to cross the bridge to get to my daughter’s office.
INTERVIEWER: Did you see the mushroom cloud?
TOMOYASU: I didn’t see the mushroom cloud. I was trying to find Masako.
INTERVIEWER: But the cloud spread over the city?
TOMOYASU: I was trying to find her. They told me I couldn’t go beyond the bridge. I thought she might be back home, so I turned around. I was at the Nikitsu Shrine when the black rain started falling from the sky. I wondered what it was.
INTERVIEWER: Can you describe the black rain?
TOMOYASU: I waited for her in the house. I opened the windows, even though there was no glass. I stayed awake all night waiting. But she didn’t come back. About 6:30 the next morning, Mr. Ishido came around. His daughter was working at the same office as my daughter. He called out asking for Masako’s house. I ran outside. I called, “It’s here, over here!” Mr. Ishido came up to me. He said, “Quick! Get some clothes and go for her. She is at the bank of the Ota River.”
I ran as fast as I could. Faster than I was able to run. When I reached the Tokiwa Bridge, there were soldiers lying on the ground. Around Hiroshima Station, I saw more people lying dead. There were more on the morning of the seventh than on the sixth. When I reached the riverbank, I couldn’t tell who was who. I kept looking for Masako. I heard someone crying, “Mother!” I recognized her voice. I found her in horrible condition. And she still appears in my dreams that way. She said, “It took you so long.”
I apologized to her. I told her, “I came as fast as I could.”
It was just the two of us. I didn’t know what to do. I was not a nurse. There were maggots in her wounds and a sticky yellow liquid. I tried to clean her up. But her skin was peeling off. The maggots were coming out all over. I couldn’t wipe them off, or I would wipe off her skin and muscle. I had to pick them out. She asked me what I was doing. I told her, “Oh, Masako. It’s nothing.” She nodded. Nine hours later, she died.
INTERVIEWER: You were holding her in your arms all that time?
TOMOYASU: Yes, I held her in my arms. She said, “I don’t want to die.” I told her, “You’re not going to die.” She said, “I promise I won’t die before we get home.” But she was in pain and she kept crying, “Mother.”
INTERVIEWER: It must be hard to talk about these things.
TOMOYASU: When I heard that your organization was recording testimonies, I knew I had to come. She died in my arms, saying, “I don’t want to die.” That is what death is like. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter how good the weapons are. I thought if everyone could see what I saw, we would never have war anymore.
Excerpt from “Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close,” by Jonathan Safran Foer, pages 187-189.
“Prayer for Protection” from Unity:
The light of the cosmos surrounds us.
The love of the cosmos enfolds us.
The power of the cosmos protects us.
The presence of the cosmos watches over us.
Wherever we are the cosmos is.
May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be,
Whether moving or standing still, without exception,
Whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,
Whether seen or unseen,
Whether living near or far,
Born or unborn;
May all beings be happy.
Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.
- I make plans, but I remain flexible and open to the surprises that life has in store for me. I try to say “yes” as often as possible.
- I cultivate patience, and by doing so I also cultivate self-confidence.
- I welcome the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, and I do not let myself be guided by fear.
- I love myself unconditionally, because it’s essential to my happiness. I love the person that I am, and I do not need other people’s approval to love myself fully.
- I’m going to drink water, eat fruit and vegetables, walk, take the stairs, exercise. Today I’m giving love to my body.
- I give everywhere I go, even if only a smile, a compliment, or my full attention. Listening is the best gift I can give to those around me.
- I try to be impeccable with my word, and to speak only to spread positivity It’s counterproductive to my happiness to speak against myself or against others.
“My type of people” can be very divisive. If you’re celebrating something you have in common with a group of people, you inevitably exclude a lot of people too. And there’s also the idea of not being cool/nerdy/artsy enough. It can very quickly become judgmental. I’m not black enough for black people. I’m not Haitian enough for Haitian people. I’m not Jamaican enough for Jamaican people. And I’m not American enough for Americans! I’ve been out of place in each group, so why would I identify with them, especially when our “bond/connection” is arbitrary? Nobody chooses to be born of a certain race or nationality. So why would we use that to judge one another?
Ancestry is just that: ancient. It affects the genes we have and how we look. But we choose who we are.
It bothers me that this sometimes guides not only hate but also love – why is interracial dating so rare? In so many TV shows that have one token black character, he/she rarely gets a romantically involved with one of the existing characters, rather another black person comes in to fill that role. Are you missing the subtext? Why did my Korean college roommate only have Korean friends? Koreans were the minority at our school! I personally think the idea of choosing your friends or mates based on their ethnicity is gross, disgusting, pathetic, shallow, close-minded, horrible, and wrong. Just imagine all the awesome people you’re missing out on.
I can’t shut up about this. I’ve written about it before.
*I may be dating an “aggressively white” person (his words, not mine) at the moment, but I actually wrote this months before we met.
**Though, maybe this is all just a part of how much I love juxtaposition. I love contrast in every weird way you can imagine: visually, my love for black & white patterns; socially, I love breaking stereotypes by working in a male-dominated field and being my own handywoman at home; my philosophical thoughts about crying in public; musically, in high school I loved songs that mixed rock and rap; now I love rap & r&b mixed with electro; the Flaming Lips’ version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon; all these crazy flavor combos in my cakes; and even the contrast between my the two main characters of my favourite book, Leo and Alma, after whom I named the moon and sun, respectively. I thrill in the unexpected! I find the chaos of life to be beautiful and inspiring. I especially delight in cities where people of all types and all backgrounds cross paths unexpectedly (it’s what I truly love about the USA). The way we can find something in common with absolutely everyone. Convergence. Unity. Oneness. Humanity.
When young men protested being suddenly called for compulsory military service, the public called them “unmanly,” “cowardly,” and “disgraceful,” To counter this view, Beata Tiskevic-Hasanova and Neringa Rekasiute “began capturing portraits of men suddenly conscripted into the Lithuanian army just a few short months ago. … Beata and Neringa thought this project would be a good way to show how dangerous gender expectations are: a man is expected to be rational, emotionless, and aggressive. But if that is the gender stereotype we accept and allow to rule our masculine-driven world, little will be resolved through the way of conflict. …Every picture is accompanied by the models’ quotes. They are expressing their opinions about what it is to be manly and how it relates to going to the army.”
Pictures from, and words paraphrased from this article at trueactivist.com.
JAUNIUS, 18: A gun in your hands doesn’t define your manliness.
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“Although NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken many breathtaking images of the universe, one snapshot stands out from the rest: the iconic view of the so-called “Pillars of Creation.” The jaw-dropping photo, taken in 1995, revealed never-before-seen details of three giant columns of cold gas bathed in the scorching ultraviolet light from a cluster of young, massive stars in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, or M16.
Though such butte-like features are common in star-forming regions, the M16 structures are by far the most photogenic and evocative. The Hubble image is so popular that it has appeared in movies and television shows, on T-shirts and pillows, and even on a postage stamp.
And now, in celebration of its upcoming 25th anniversary in April, Hubble has revisited the famous pillars [pictured above], providing astronomers with a sharper and wider view. As a bonus, the pillars have been photographed in near-infrared light, as well as visible light. The infrared view transforms the pillars into eerie, wispy silhouettes seen against a background of myriad stars. That’s because the infrared light penetrates much of the gas and dust, except for the densest regions of the pillars. Newborn stars can be seen hidden away inside the pillars. The new images are being unveiled at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.”
“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently.”
“Well, when you look into infinity, you realize that there are more important things than what people do all day.”
I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.
—Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life
Now is the time for love. Now is the time for respect. For brotherhood and sisterhood. For unity. For compassion. These are the things that Dr. King fought and died for. Our country is divided, polarized by race, by politics, by ideology, by fear. We can’t fight anger and hate with more of the same. We need love. We need understanding.
by P. Zuber
Why is it that we identify with others because their skin is the same color as ours, or their religion is the same as ours, or because our families come from the same area? Why can’t we identify with others simply because we’re both human, sharing the same human experience? Until we can look past these trivialities, we will always be closer to people with whom we have these things in common, and distanced from those that are different. And that distance from people who are different than us is where prejudices and stereotypes grow. Let’s think of ourselves not as “bike people,” “artsy people,” “black people,” “hip people,” “gay people,” “athletic people”… and just start thinking of ourselves simply as PEOPLE, all sharing the same human experience.
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