Thursday, May 29, 2008

Regrettable Incident

This is my version of my Wednesday "stuff that interests me" post, only it's Thursday. OK, I'm off by a day. It has been a hard week and that not over yet. Cut me some slack!

Anyway, I ran across this little website while reading about "Operation August Storm", the Soviet flattening of Japan's Kwantung Army that occured sixty-three years ago this summer in what is now the Manchurian part of the People's Republic of China.

The site is well worth a visit, if only to remark on the wonderful and strange way people experience what life visits upon them.Our narrator, Kiuchi Nobuo, was a - I'm guessing - private soldier in the Kwantung Army in 1945 when he went into the bag with about 600,000 other Japanese, many of them just kid conscripts. Transported to Siberia, Nobuo and the other prisoners found everything from hardship and death, sickness, work, play...even friendship and, as difficult as it may be to understand, love.Even long after the young man returned to Japan he seems to have treasured this time, and his memories of it. While I know that the combination of grinding work, bad food, careless Soviet bureaucracy and the apalling weather must have made Nobuo's life a misery, the cartoons he draws to memorialize his captivity are...well, happy. Almost cute, with a fine eye for the combination of tragedies, indignities and comedies that accumulate in life at the far edge of human decency.So I don't want to editorialize about this; I have no deep thoughts or serious intents about it. I simply enjoyed the author's loving memories of a time long ago, and I hope you take a moment and visit his site, because I think you will, too.

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