You must know the story. Sadako and the thousand cranes. She got radiation poisoning or something like that after they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, and started making these little origami cranes. She thought that if she made a thousand she would live, but she only managed about six hundred or so before she carked it.
There’s a statue of her in Hiroshima, in the peace park. You can go see it. Once a year people put thousands of origami cranes next to it as a symbol of peace or hope or something like that, though really it does seem a bit like they’re laughing in her face. We can do it. What was your problem?
Anyway, last week some kid set fire to them all. He was from Osaka or somewhere in Kansai. It was in the paper. He left home before his parents woke up, caught an early train to Hiroshima, then spent the rest of the day walking around the city, probably building up his courage, before he went up to the statue and threw a lit cigarette right onto the cranes.
He didn’t run away. He just stood there and watched them all go up until the police arrived and took him away. He told them it looked beautiful all that peace and hope on fire.
At the station, they asked him why he did it and he said he didn’t know. It turned out he’d failed his exams and wouldn’t be going to university the following month. He said he’d brought shame on the whole family. His father had sent him to cram schools. He’d worked and worked. But it had made no difference. Maybe he should’ve tried harder – he thought he had – but there was always some part of him, he said, that maybe wanted to fail. And so he had.
The police phoned his parents, but they refused to come and see him. His father said he was dead to him, lock him up, it’ll probably do him some good if destruction’s all he can achieve. The police told the boy his parents weren’t coming.
Why should they? he said. Sadako got nothing either.
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