‘Ryoko looked at her father in farewell. Pale and tense, he nodded
slightly. The sergeant removed the safety pin of his grenade, so
did Okuyama. “We are all going to a nice place together,” the
mother told four-year-old Yoshitada, the youngest child. He
smiled as if it were a game. The two men struck the grenades
simultaneously against the rocks at their feet. As the fuses hissed,
Ryoko thought in rapid succession: Am I going to be a Buddha?
Do human beings really have souls? Is there another world?
She felt the cave shake—the concussion had thrown her against the
rock wall. Dazed, she heard her little brother give a feeble groan,
and she fainted.
She didn’t know how long she had remained unconscious. First
she saw a vague brightness of red, and as it came into focus she
realized it was the open abdomen of the sergeant who was sitting
before her, legs crossed, as if asleep. The huge wound was so neat
that it reminded her of the human-body exhibit in biology class.
The organs, all in place, were “beautiful.”’
Related by Ryoko Okuyama
to John Toland
The Rising Sun