An electrifying atmosphere pervades the whole of Japan as the nation gets ready to host the 2020 Olympics. Gaiety and euphoria envelop an eager populace. However there is a frightening phenomenon that threatens to hurl sand in the gear. The bane of the accursed stones. Following the horrendous Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear meltdown, a strange spectacle has gripped the elderly of the nation. A multitude of them have begun scouring for black shiny stones that are commonly called ‘pitchblende’. Pitchblende, also known by the name uraninite, is a mineral comprised mainly of oxides of the element uranium. The mineral is black in color, like ‘pitch’. The term ‘blende’ comes from the German miners who believed it contained many different metals all blended together.
When held close to one’s ear, strange voices are heard and the person holding the rock begins to wax lyrical on complicated topics dealing with Uranium, Nuclear fission and the like. The spectacularly inexplicable sight of an illiterate old man holding forth on the properties of Uranium and the mining sites such as Jáchymov and Karlovy Vary in Prague, renders onlookers both stupefied and scared. Crazed individuals tightly grasping black stones in their palms also make a break for the now abandoned and shuttered buildings of the nuclear reactors at Fukushima. A nonagenarian even assaults and injures a few policeman and a truck driver before running amok and settling before a building modelled on the house of one of the world’s greatest Physicist and Chemist, Marie Curie. Hammering away on the door of the empty structure the woman is finally ‘tackled’ by the security guards and hauled away.
Erika Kobayashi’s “Trinity, Trinity, Trinity” to be released in June 2022 is neither an ecological thriller nor a run of the mill whodunit. Instead it is the rumination and lament of a divorced middle aged woman, the mother of a chirpy teen obsessed with a black metal band called “DEATH BE NOT PROUD, and the daughter of an infirm lady confined to her bed after a fall. The book explores conflicts and contrasts in human behaviour and the ways of the world at large. While, on the one hand there is the barely uncontained excitement surrounding the Olympic games, on the other hand lies the unspoken but inevitable elephant in the room. Thus even when people are hollering and cheering the Olympic torch relay, they are driven to the edge of panic when they see an old man holding a shiny, slick and black object in the carriage of a moving train. The offending object ultimately turns out to be a bar of chocolate.
The heroine of the book herself leads an existence veering between angst and acceptance. When not installing and servicing water purifiers, she seeks temporary refuge in the unseen underbelly of Cybersex. She is also forced to grapple with the plague of Trinity at her own home when she discovers a few black Uraninite stones amongst her mother’s belongings.
All hell breaks loose when the protagonist’s mother flees the care home, carrying with her one of the accursed stones. However, since the mobile phone which she holds has a GPS tracker, her daughter can track her movements. The destination of the absconder – The National Stadium where the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics are going to be conducted. A diary left behind contains a weird notation of time: 5.29. This is a reference to the time when the atomic bomb was detonated for the purposes of testing by Robert Oppenheimer and his team. This is also the time (although in the evening) which the old woman has decided, would be most appropriate to ‘interfere’ with the opening ceremony.
The daughter races to the National Stadium to prevent her mother from wreaking havoc. But……
There are throes of ethics, emotions and extravagance in Kobayashi’s book. Is it a subtle clamour to balance scientific temper with humanitarian perspective? Is it a clarion call to watch out for untrammeled development in dangerous sites that have been the sites of cataclysmic activities? Or is it just a breathtaking testimony to the magnificent breadth of human imagination? Is it a warning to the world on the need to go slow with nuclear energy by demonstrating in a clinically impartial manner its pernicious impact on brain and body? Or is it a measured agglomeration of all of these?
Whatever it may be, “Trinity” sure makes its readers think!
(‘Trinity, Trinity Trinity’ by Erika Kobayashi is published by Astra Publishing House and will be available for sale from the 28th of June, 2022)
Thank You Net Galley for the Advance Reviewer Copy!