NagasakiTwoLives - Amerasia Journal 36:2(2010 139-145 The Vanquisher and the Vanquished Nagasaki and Two Uncommon Lives Vinay Lal Tsutomu Yamaguchi and

NagasakiTwoLives - Amerasia Journal 36:2(2010 139-145 The...

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139The Vanquisher and the Vanquished:Nagasaki and Two Uncommon LivesVinay LalTsutomu Yamaguchi and Charles Donald Albury died within months of each other. The former lived to the ripe old age of 93, and passed away in January this year; the latter died in May last year, at the age of 88. Neither of them were household names in their respective countries, yet they were noticed in obituaries scattered across newspapers. However much newspapers have changed over the last few decades, surrendering their place to television, cable, the Internet, and the mobile phone as sources of news, information, and commentary, the obituary pages have survived the relentless drive that has turned newspapers into merely another vehicle for advancing commercial interests.I was again reminded of Yamaguchi, whose obituary I first encountered in the New York Times,1in August when the bells tolled, as they do every August 6 and 9, in remembrance of the dead at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the mid-1960s, as a young boy living in Tokyo, I had no comprehension of what had trans-pired at Hiroshima. I wasn’t even aware that my father had vis-ited Hiroshima, until, a few years later, when I was in my early teens, I chanced upon a book of photographs documenting the effects of the atomic bombing, evidently purchased by him at the museum of the atomic dome in Hiroshima. Though the captions were in Japanese, the pictures furnished a terrifying record of the loss of human lives and the devastation of an entire city. Over the years, being drawn to the life and thought of Mohandas Gan-Amerasia Journal 36:2 (2010): 139-145VINAYLALteaches history and Asian American studies at UCLA, and he was Director of the University of California Education Abroad Program (India), 2007–2009. His most recent books include Fingerprinting Popular Culture: The Mythic and the Iconic in Indian Cinema, co-edited with Ashis Nandy (Oxford, 2006) and The Other Indians: A Political and Cultural His-tory of South Asians in America(UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press and HarperCollins, 2008).
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Amerasia Journal 2010140dhi, and, then, in the 1990s, witnessing India’s own tragic quest to become a nuclear power, the question of what Hiroshima and Nagasaki represent has never been far from my mind.Ruminating over these matters a couple of months ago, the obituary of Charles Albury came to my notice.2I knew at once that their stories, the stories of Tsutomu Yamaguchi and Charles Donald Albury, had to be told together. There is no other way to tell their stories, even if no one else should think of linking their lives.Yamaguchi and Albury never knew each other; neither was known very much, as I have hinted, to the outside world, even if their names are, or will be, indelibly sketched in history books in unlikely ways. They ought to have known each other, all the more so since Charles Albury was dispatched to kill not Tsutomu Yamaguchi, but the likes of him. We cannot characterize Yama-guchi’s killing as a targeted assassination; some will even balk
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