Crash Course

ICSE Treasure Chest: A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945 by Vikram Seth

by AlmondBooks Support on Jan 17, 2023

The ICSE Treasure Chest is a collection of poems curated for students in ICSE Class 9 (2025 Batch). One of the standout poems from the collection is " A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945 “ by Vikram Seth. The poem describes a man's experience of a bombing, in which he is injured and struggles to find help and understand what has happened to the world around him, while also struggling with the loss of clothing and the sight of other injured and suffering people. In this article, we will take a closer look at the poem, review a short summary and solve some MCQs for practice.

Poem

The morning stretched calm, beautiful, and warm.
Sprawling half clad, I gazed out at the form
Of shimmering leaves and shadows. Suddenly
A strong flash, then another, startled me.

I saw the old stone lantern brightly lit.
Magnesium flares? While I debated it,
The roof, the walls and, as it seemed, the world
Collapsed in timber and debris, dust swirled
Around me – in the garden now – and, weird,
My drawers and undershirt disappeared.

A splinter jutted from my mangled thigh.
My right side bled, my cheek was torn, and I
Dislodged, detachedly, a piece of glass,
All the time wondering what had come to pass.

Where was my wife? Alarmed, I gave a shout,
‘Where are you, Yecko-san?’ My blood gushed out.
The artery in my neck? Scared for my life,
I called out, panic-stricken, to my wife.

Pale, bloodstained, frightened, Yecko-san emerged,
Holding her elbow. ‘We’ll be fine,’ I urged –
‘Let’s get out quickly.’ Stumbling to the street
We fell, tripped by something at our feet.

I gasped out, when I saw it was a head:
‘Excuse me, please excuse me –‘He was dead:
A gate had crushed him. There we stood, afraid.
A house standing before us tilted, swayed,
Toppled, and crashed. Fire sprang up in the dust,

Spread by the wind. It dawned on us we must
Get to the hospital: we needed aid –
And I should help my staff too. (Though this made
Sense to me then, I wonder how I could)

My legs gave way. I sat down on the ground.
Thirst seized me, but no water could be found.
My breath was short, but bit by bit my strength
Seemed to revive, and I got up at length.

I was still without clothes, but I felt no shame.
This thought disturbed me somewhat, till I came
Upon a soldier, standing silently,
Who gave the towel round his neck to me
My legs, stiff with dried blood, rebelled. I said
To Yecko-san she must go on ahead.

She did not wish to, but in our distress
What choice had we? A dreadful loneliness
Came over me when she had gone. My mind
Ran at high speed, my body crept behind.

I saw the shadowy forms of people, some
Were ghosts, some scarecrows, all were wordless dumb –
Arms stretched straight out, shoulder to dangling hand;
It took some time for me to understand
The friction on their burns caused so much pain
They feared to chafe flesh against flesh again.

Those who could, shuffled in a blank parade
Towards the hospital. I saw, dismayed,
A woman with a child stand in my path –
Both without clothes. Had they come back from the bath?

I turned my gaze, but was at a loss
That she should stand thus, till I came across
A man without clothes – and now the thought arose
That some strange thing had stripped us of our clothes.

The face of an old woman on the ground
Was marred with suffering, but she made no sound.
Silence was common to us all. I heard
No cries of anguish, or a single word.

Summary

"A Doctor's Journal Entry for August 6, 1945" is a poem by Vikram Seth which describes the reactions of a doctor who is treating patients in Hiroshima, Japan on the day the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. The poem illustrates the horror and devastation caused by the bomb, as well as the doctor's feelings of helplessness and despair as he tries to treat the wounded and dying. The poem is a powerful and moving tribute to the victims of the atomic bombing, and it serves as a reminder of the destructive power of war and the importance of peace.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

1. What is the main theme of the poem?
a) War
b) Love
c) Nature
d) Loss

2. How does the protagonist feel as he stumbles through the aftermath of the bombing?
a) Excitement
b) Fear
c) Confusion
d) Calmness

3. How does the protagonist feel as he stumbles through the aftermath of the bombing?
a) Strong and determined
b) Weak and alone
c) Confused and disoriented
d) All of the above

4. What is the protagonist's primary concern as he searches for his wife?
a) Her safety
b) His own injuries
c) The state of the world around him
d) All of the above

5. How does the protagonist feel about his nudity in the aftermath of the bombing?
a) Ashamed
b) Confused
c) Indifferent
d) Embarrassed

Answers

  1. a) War
  2. c) Confusion
  3. d) All of the above
  4. a) Her safety
  5. b) Confused