Since Hiroshima

by Prakash S. Moorthy

© 1999-2000

It has been two years since my visit to Hiroshima and the meeting with Tsunoi Tsuboi. I was in Hiroshima for the 8th International Animation Film Festival. A few months before my visit, India, followed by Pakistan, tested many nuclear devices in a spree lasting less than a month.

Tsunoi Tsuboi told me that he was less than a mile away from the epicenter at Hiroshima on the morning of August 9, 1945. He was a little boy, on his way to a workshop. He was not the only child walking around that morning; many were going to school. Dropped by a war machine and driven by the general conviction that the war would end, another "little boy" also hurtled down from above...

In my country, Islamic fundamentalists stormed an airplane and killed a young passenger by pushing a knife into his surprised open mouth. An undeclared war took away many lives on the border with Pakistan -- a Christian priest was killed using bows and arrows; another missionary worker was burned to death along with his young sons; a young girl was raped in Pakistan. Later, she was killed by her own parents for bringing a "bad name" to the family.

The reasons are similar to why people painted Stars of David on doors. For others, these reasons are narrow, small and local. It is, after all, how you look at what which point of view...

Hiroshima after A-bomb devastation in October, 1945. © 1999-2000

The filming of the story of a teenaged widow sold to prostitution years ago in the holy Indian city of Varanasi has been banned because the film shows our ancient culture in a "bad" light. The self-appointed culture police are "correct" and "justified" in their perspective. They know everything. They would like to read and correct film scripts. They also want to tell artists what to paint and give poets ruled paper.

Children who went to school did not return. They moved about with their skin peeling off and tongues showing for a little while before crumpling to the ground...

Give me back the Berlin Wall,
Give me Stalin and St. Paul,
Give me Christ,
or give me Hiroshima.
Destroy another fetus now.
We don't like children anyhow.
I have seen the future, baby;
It is murder.

-- Leonard Cohen

It seems that there was a bearded man and he was sitting under a tree. From far he looked a little like Jesus Christ. Suddenly a group of wild and angry men arrived and thrust a half-naked woman at his feet and said in one voice, "Look! She has sinned. We caught her in adultery. We have a tradition here; we must stone her to death."

The bearded man got up and shouted at the crowd. He said: "Hold it...let him among you who has not sinned ever, throw the first stone!" The bearded man waited for the crowd to shuffle around and disband.

Instead it seems, the crowd shouted with joy and picking up many huge stones, threw them at the half naked shivering woman who had sinned. Until she died.

Is this so much like the story of Hiroshima?

Animator Prakash S. Moorthy, Dave Brunskill and Clive Walley in Hiroshima, Japan. August 1998. Photo by Ron Diamond. © AWN.

But then, why did they not bomb Hiroshima until Little Boy was dropped in August, 1945? Hiroshima was the biggest arms manufacturing city in Japan during the World War.

After meeting Tsunoi Tsuboi and listening to his story, I went to the Peace Museum again with my friend Dave Burnskill. There we made a promise -- that we would make a film, with the hope that it would bring out the same kind of feelings that Tsunoi Tsuboi's story did.

Sadly, we did not make the film in time for the Hiroshima Animation Festival this year. We have a script, but only pieces of animation done in fits of enthusiasm. The demands of making a film and generating the funds for it took its toll.

Dave teaches in England and I do set design for live-action films in India. Dave tried his best to organize funds from his part of the world as I did from mine. Maybe nobody liked our story idea. We gave up our money raising efforts for Of Fat Men And Little Boys soon after and began concentrating on our jobs, with a view to save up for our film. This is taking longer than we thought. There are a lot of friends who are encouraging us onward. Dave organized young children from all over the world to paint pictures of themselves going to school for our film. There were a lot of people waiting for this film at this year's animation festival in Hiroshima. It is difficult to explain to them, as there is also Tsunoi Tsuboi, an old man with a scarred face looking for his story.

Prakash S. Moorthy is an independent animation filmmaker based in Kerala, India.