I have a hard time time understanding how people grow up hating one another. The other night, I was in Blockbuster looking for something light-hearted to watch with the boys. As I perused the titles, I came across a move about Nanking. All these memories came flooding in and it bummed me out. I left Blockbuster without renting anything.

One of my best friends from high school used to live with his grandparents for a portion of the year. His mother was a reknown Hawaiian scholar. His grandfather a fun loving man of German heritage. In high school, when I visited with him and his grandparents, my friend used to ask his grandfather permission to pull out an old fold-out photo album with about twenty faded photos of light yellow color. They didn't even look sepia. More faded yellow. Originals. They were horrific. At the time, I didn't know much about them nor did my friend. His grandfather was in the early stages of dementia and looking back now, Alzheimers.

The photos depicted Asian men in uniform killing and torturing Asian men in plain clothes in the most brutal and horrific ways. Knives. Bayonets. Samurai swords. Sharpened bamboo. With smiles for the camera. The juxtaposition of death and dying, piles of severed heads, combined with smiles and laughter was difficult to understand at the time. After we would look at the photos, my friend would carefully close the little album back up and tuck it away in the closet only to be taken out again next time I would visit.

We graduated from high school and began college. My friend ended up committing suicide with his grandfather's rifle. His grandfather later developed Alzheimers and passed away. His grandmother, alone, walked down the road where she lived and was accidently hit by a bicylist and knocked to the ground. She died of those injuries. It was a very tragic and sad end to that part of my life.

Two decades later, I was reading about Nanking. I remembered the photographs. It seemed to fit. I read about how photos and film made it into Germany from interactions between Germans and Japanese during the war. I read about how Nanking survivors hunt down any evidence of the atrocities to prove what happened in the face of national denial. I knew my friend's German grandfather may have had original evidence of horrific acts of inhumane violence. The images are still burned in my head decades later.

I decided to email the author of a book on Nanking which generated some controversy. I didn't know who would or could follow up with tracking down the photographs if they still exist. I introduced myself to the author, Iris, and gave her all the information on who I believed inherited the estate including possibly the photographic evidence. That was in August of 2004 when I had just lost my job and bothered by my little epiphany in my soul searching. Little did I know that Iris had a breakdown in August of 2004. I never received a reply to my email.

A few months later, this beautiful married mother of a two-year old committed suicide. I was devastated. I prayed that my email didn't add another stressor in her life. So haunted. So tragic. Everything is tragic. Her death. My friend's death. His grandfather's last days. His grandmother's untimely death. Nanking. Man hating man. Taking pleasure in causing the horrific suffering of another of Ke Akua's miraculous creations. This blog entry bums me out. I'm going to bed. I hope I don't dream of Nanking...


Lance M. Foster said…
I would oki that memory as best you can, brother. Just see a little cupboard out of the way in your mind, put the memory there, and close and fasten the cupboard door. It's not repressing it. You know where it is, you just put it away, out of harm's way. Give it to Ke Akua.