Earlier this month marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.
To commemorate this day, the Japan Foundation Cairo Office screened the film Barefoot Gen at the Library hall, subtitled with Arabic language.
Nakaoka Gen is a normal, active young boy, who is a second grader in the local elementary school, and is living with his parents, an older sister, Eiko, and his younger brother, Shinji. Although poor, they are living as well as they can by supporting each other. Gen’s father, Daikichi, is critical about the war and always tells his children that they must live strongly, like wheat plants which grow even though they are trodden. His pregnant mother, Kimie, although very hungry herself, gives up her sweet potato, because her children are begging for food. Gen is proud of his family and is looking forward to seeing the new baby who is expected to be born soon.
On 6 August 1945, the US bomber Enola Gay takes off from Tinian Base and sets a course towards Kyushu, carrying atomic bombs. Because of the cloud cover, the original target city of Kokura is spared, but Hiroshima is chosen as the alternative.
At 8:15 in the morning, the bomb is dropped. The tower of Hiroshima castle is destroyed, and rows of houses collapse. Thousands of burned corpses pile up and other thousands of people with pieces of glass impaling their bodies are bleeding and dying.
Gen miraculously survives but, running back to his home, he witnesses his father, his sister, and his brother trapped under the collapsed house. He and his mother try desperately to save them, but their efforts fail. Gen and a neighbor, realizing it is hopeless, carry Gen’s mother away from the now flaming house. They watch in helpless horror. Gen’s mother gives birth prematurely, with her son’s assistance. The little girl is named Tomoko, friend by a proud older brother.
On 15 August, Japan’s government surrenders. Some neighbors pass by and profess their grief. Gen’s mother says “Why not sooner!”
26 August 2015