Friday, June 03, 2011

The Great Writer's Essay in His Childhood

The Nobel-Prize winning writer Kenzaburo Oe writes a series of a single-page essay in the magazine Tosho under the column name of "Intimate Letters." His essay of this month is entitled "Nambo-nandemo."

When he was in elementary school, Oe wrote an essay of the following story about his grandmother: Being hurt by the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a friend of hers was in hospital, so that the grandmother visited the friend. On returning home, she uttered the word "nambo-nandemo" (a dialect word to mean "too dreadful to say anything") to refer to her feeling of having seen the landscape of Hiroshima without any building at all.

His teacher told him that it might be possible to make his essay appear in a local newspaper by sending it to her acquaintance at the newspaper company but that he should rewrite dialect words into common ones. However, Oe did not want to change the grandmother's word of lament "nambo-nandemo" and told so to his teacher. Then, the teacher rejected to send it to the newspaper. A long time after that, the word "nambo-nandemo!" came to his mind on looking at the disasters of the Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear power plant. He adds to say that he cannot but shout this word especially against the government and the nuclear power plant.

Recently, German and Swiss governments decided to abolish all nuclear power plants of their countries by the year 2022 and 2034, respectively. It is in Japan, whose nuclear accident at Fukushima affected those decisions, that such a policy is deadly needed be made as soon as possible.


Chiara said...

Dear Tastu,
it's been a while since my last visit to your blog, but this post seems to be the appropriate one to restart my visits, and I'm very glad that you posted this story.

In Italy we will have a referendum on June 12-13th, on wheter we agree or not with the government's decision to restar a nuclear energy plan in our country (the situation is actually more complicated, as there are more topics we will vote on).
The main problem will be to reach the so called "quorum", that is 50% +1 voters must vote in order for the referendum to be valid. If the quorum is reached, the vote against nuclear power plants will probably win.
Unfortunately, in recent years the quorum was seldom reached and those who want the nuclear plan to go on are inviting people to disert the vote.
In these days there are obviously lots of discussions about nuclear energy. When talking about it, I'll remember and repeat the words "nambo-nandemo".

Ted said...

Hi Chiara,
Nice to read your comment. A common Japanese word for "nambo-nandemo" is "ikura-nandemo," which is not so much different from the former, i.e., the dialect word used by Oe's grandmother. The literal meaning of these is something like this: "This is too much whatever you say about it." I wish that the voting in your country be successful.