Of the bomb

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  • Published 20050906
  • ISBN: 9780733316715
  • Extent: 232 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

HE WAS A small old man and he sat alone in the tram. It was late July and very warm and the tram was making its way through the southern suburbs of Hiroshima to the ferry terminal for the sacred island of Miyajima. The old man wore a large, floppy brimmed canvas hat and a beige safari suit. He cradled in his lap a little carry bag. He had been watching me since I boarded near the A-Bomb Dome and sat on a bench opposite him. As the tram emptied, stop by stop along route 2, he continued staring through his pair of enormous, thick-lensed spectacles.

On occasion, I glanced at his kind, worn face and realised there was something not quite right with it. It was not something immediately obvious, but it was curiously out of alignment. His left eye was smaller than his right, the difference exacerbated by the thick spectacle lenses. The cheekbone, too, below the pinched eye, was flat, in defiance of the other across the bridge of his nose, which was round and full. It looked, to me, like a face that had suffered an accident a long time ago, and the imperfections were far away, on the horizon of a long life.

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