“Nagasaki, August 9, 1945” by Michaito Ichimaru
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“Nagasaki, August 9, 1945” by Michaito Ichimaru is an account of the tragic incident that took place as a result of the blast of the nuclear bomb dropped by the United States on Nagasaki. He makes his essay effective by giving details of the destruction and commenting on the after-wards condition.
He describes in his touching essay, the soul-terrifying effacement that war truly brought. It is written from the view point of a humane physician deeply concerned with the contemporary world. He writes about the Nagasaki bombing from the angle of a participant and he has selected his details with utmost care to communicate the horrors he had witnessed Details of the bombing build an intensity to the final horror- the burning of the dead bodies in an open place.
It is quite obvious that blast cause destruction, people die and the survivors get injured. The commentary of the writer vividly portrays what actually happened before his eyes and through which a reader can visualize too. The details he has given are thought provoking as the reader feels the terror and pain. Without his commentary the reader may not feel the intensity and “magnitude” of the horrors.
When the atomic bomb exploded, an intense flash was observed first. At the same time at the center of the explosion, and a short while later in other areas, a tremendous roaring sound was heard and a crushing blast wave and intense heat were felt. The blast was so intense that the walls of the house though made of stone were “reduced to rubble”. Everything outside had blown to bits. Houses and other structures were smashed, crushed and scattered
The writer comments upon the condition of the injured. The injured were in extremely painful condition. Their clothes were torn and skin drooped from their bodies. They all were in a shock and seemed like “ghosts with vacant stares”. Their eyes were brimful of panic, unexplainable anxiety and sorrow. They just stared as they could not utter a thing because of the intense devastation they had just witnessed and gone through.
“All that I knew had disappeared” portrays the place of destruction which was fine a day before. There was nothing left. The once occupied city had turned void. Just the frameworks of the buildings stood firm. The populous city was razed to ground in the twinkling of an eye. Corpses lied everywhere. Most of the immediate casualties did not differ from those caused by incendiary or high-explosive raids. The outstanding difference was the presence of radiation effects, which became unmistakable about a week after the bombing. At the time of impact, however, the causes of death and injury were flash burns, secondary effects of blast and falling debris, and burns from blazing buildings. A “desperate man” lied dead in a water-tub placed for extinguishing fire. Foam spilt from his mouth. He had fallen into the tub for some cool water but could not sustain.
The writer could not avoid the screams of the women as these were omnipresent. He moved towards his school and found in his way scorched bodies that had turned black. People were roasted in the searing heat. The conditions were extremely pathetic. The flesh of the bodies had lacerated and the white bones appeared from beneath. Humans were not the only ones to suffer. Animals were equally affected. “A dead horse with a bloated belly lay by the road side”.
The essay becomes more and more effective as the writer jots down his mental condition and feelings. “I can not forget the way their eyes looked at me”, depicts the extreme wretchedness they were suffering. They had nothing more to say. Despair had filled their eyes and souls. They could only beg and scream. “Their voices spoke to me forever.” All that they said to the writer kept on reverberating in his mind as their words were the last ones he heard from them.
The leaves of the trees had descended. Trees of all sizes lost their branches or were uprooted or broken off at the trunk. It was autumn everywhere. The lush green mountains and fields had turned barren.
“It is impossible to describe the horrors I saw”, delineates the writer’s mental condition. The destruction, casualties, anxieties, sorrows could not be jotted down or explained. These were some things only to be seen and felt. He had seen the dead bodies, the fire, the ruins, the injuries, the “vacant stares”; had heard the screams and the implorations and had felt all this in his bones. There was a stinking smell because of the dead bodies. The writer portrays the predicament by reporting it as an “inferno”. A once pleasant place had turned to a hell, hell itself was let loose. There were so many casualties that disposing them was very hard. The bodies were brunt and the writer remembered “the movement of the bowels in the fire”.
He always thinks about the utmost woe of the relatives of his dead friends. “I can not capture the magnitude and misery of the horror I saw.” He could not measure the destruction that took place. A great tragedy had befallen on to the dwellers.
Thus the power of his essay comes partly from the simplicity and precision with which he states the facts interspersed with an occasional interpretation and commentary.