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My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

PHILIPPINES | Saturday, 21 April 2012 | Views [192] | Scholarship Entry

Hiromi-san glanced at my direction. For three seconds, my almond-shaped Filipino eyes conversed with her Japanese almonds. Hers has a darker shade of brown. But the smile I found there was genuine and contagious. I returned her hospitality with the same friendly warmth. It was early October in Hiroshima.

Travelling on a tour bus in the countryside was the perfect time for reflection. I found myself inhaling the unscented quiet of the deserted highway. I could hear the distant sound of a heron as it touched my usually inattentive ears. I looked again at Hiromi’s direction and found her petite sunny face reflecting the golden rice fields on either side of the road. I asked myself, “If the A-bomb was dropped in this unassuming prefecture more than six decades ago, how could the birds still sing or the rice fields still turn into gold? How could Hiromi exude such a beautiful smile?”

After the atomic bombing, it was said that nothing would ever grow in Hiroshima. But when the red canna lilies started to bloom, a resurgence of hope began to embrace the downtrodden residents.

I couldn’t agree more. A panorama of life prevails in Hiroshima.

Sitting on a bench with my back to the Gembaku Domu (Atomic Bomb Dome), I watched the traffic on the bridge dissecting the Aioi River. An old man in his early 80’s, a younger man in a flannel suit, and a lady in a tight-fitting skirt were racing to the other side of the bridge. A stream of bicycles followed in their wake. In a world where bicycles dominate cars, I imagined myself in Sesame Street, as the reincarnation of Count Dracula, standing on the bridge and counting cars while an excursion of children in school uniform adorns the riverside. When the sun began to set, I decided to look for Hiromi because the Dome was already bathed in a ghostly green light. I left the bench with an unfinished survey in my notebook: Mazda-7; Toyota-5; Honda-4; Nissan-3.

My survey may be unscientific but it was my reason for deciding to check out the Mazda Museum.

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012

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