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Monday, August 16, 2010

Shadow People.

Considering the rat race we are in, there is very little time to pause and reflect on your life.  Niccolo Machiavelli founder of political science once wrote "the end justify the means". Or is it the other way around. This is a difficult question. I found my self at a crossroad few months ago when I heard a story from a patient of mine.

It started like any other patient encounter. I met him for the first time in the hospital lying on somewhat dirty bed and wearing not so modest hospital gown. He was tall but frail. Despite being in his late seventies he appeared to be untouched by time. He was trying to listen to an overhead page calling for some doctor who was again not on time. When I entered his room he tried to fix his thinning hair and straighten his already crisp mustaches. He greeted me with a frail smile.

He greeted me with respect and gratitude which you do not see very often these days. He was in pain, I could sense it, though he was trying to conceal it.  Despite everything he was going through, he still appeared composed and had an aura of tranquility. As we began to talk he opened up to me.  He informed me that he is a veteran and served in second world war. Actually was a crew member on one of the first navy ships to arrive in Hiroshima in late August of 1945.

I am not sure how many of us have ever met someone who was in Hiroshima right after the nukes, I never had an opportunity so I was naturally intrigued. I asked him what he saw and what he remembered. His voice started to break and he began to cry. I shared his grief and started thinking of the burden he is carrying on his shoulders that even after 65 years he still is overwhelmed by these tragic memories. When I asked him what he remembered the most. He said "doc I cannot forget the shadows, they still follow me". I asked him to elaborate. He said when he was in Hiroshima and later in Nagasaki he saw these people-shadows on the street. Later on he was told that these shadows were from the people who were standing when the bomb went off, the body absorbed the radiation and intense heat  left a shadow behind. He felt like there are still corpses on the street where ever he went. He would ask other people not to step on these shadows. When I left the room later he was still crying.

This all came back to me as we are again in the month of August when this all happened in 1945. “Little boy” a barely ten foot bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by Enola Gay at 8:15am on August 6, 1945. This resulted in an immediate death of 80,000 people followed by another 130,000 people due to radiation exposure.  Three days later on August 9, 1945, Bockscar dropped “Fat man”. Interestingly the primary target was Kokura but due to low visibility the secondary target was chosen and the bomb was dropped at Nagasaki. Estimate immediate deaths were from 40,000 to 75,000. Does end justifies the means or not it is for us to decide.

I guess in my life I have seen some shadows and they still haunt me.

Talk to you later.

About the picture: I took this self portrait at children museum in Chicago.


Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective.

Anonymous said...

Very well said..something we as human can never forget.