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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Miyo Taniguchi (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.8 km from the hypocenter / 18 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Official medical checkups for hibakusha began in 1957. Each time I underwent a thorough examination because I had severe chronic anemia.

Something my doctor once happened to say made me fear that I might have leukemia. If that were indeed the case, I would live no longer than half a year, or a year at the longest. I was at a loss about how to raise my three children. I spent sleepless nights looking at their faces as they slept. Unable to wait for the test results to arrive in one week, I called the hospital four days after the examination. When I learned that my anemia was bad but not malignant, I told my mother about my fear for the first time.

My mother said, "You could have been killed at age eighteen but you have lived until now (I was then thirty-two years of age), and you are lucky enough to be married and have children like ordinary people despite the discrimination against A-bomb survivors. Instead of worrying about the future, you should enjoy yourself today and continue to live while looking for modest happiness." I could follow her reasoning, but I also felt repelled at heart, thinking that she could say that kind of thing because she didn't understand the dreadfulness of the A-bomb disease. As days went by, however, I realized that I had better change my mindset. After that I was able to live positively, searching for moments of happiness.

Still, I could not shed my uneasiness about radiation. I had no idea what might happen and when. I raised my children so that they could care for themselves. My eldest daughter could cook rice on firewood when she was in the sixth grade. I had shown her where I kept my registered seal. I let my two girls acquire special skills that could help them live by themselves. One became a medical laboratory technician, and the other a public health nurse. Deep inside I was preparing myself for death.

In the course of as many as ten days, while living in an air raid shelter, I walked though the city of debris participating in relief activities. Yet I am still alive. And I quietly rejoice in the fact that I am kept alive. I am grateful that, precisely because of my mother's instruction, I have been able to live positively without losing heart.

"New Year in the sixtieth year since exposure to the A-bomb,"
composed in January 2005

In the first month
of the sixtieth year
since the bombing
my war comrades and I
celebrated one another's lives.

(A friend in the neighborhood says this is nothing special now that the average life span is eighty years. But I have gone through fear of the effects of radioactivity for the past sixty years. A survivor's joy and sorrow may be understood only by war comrades.)

Sent off with national flags
to be mobilized into volunteer corps,
girls we were --
now nearing age eighty;
time does not cease to move.

Those fully exposed
to radiation in a split second
had no help, no cure;
how they simply collapsed and died
we will never forget.

(In that situation they were left to die.)

I have lived
amidst discrimination
against hibakusha;
I kept my mouth closed
literally half my life.

Having made a gift
of my A-bomb memoir
to the municipal office
I assume a new attitude
as narrator of my experience.

Dreading radioactivity
yet day by day
my mother's words
"enjoy yourself each day"
keeps me alive even now.

(Her instruction made it possible for me to live a positive life while finding happiness in small ways. It meant much that I was able to change my way of thinking.)

Since deciding that
I am constituted to live
with half the average
number of white blood cells
I have found peace of mind.

Surviving the A-bomb
I have passed the seventy-seventh return
of my birthday;
each single day of my life
is precious to me.

From the scorched ruins
I picked the bones of a friend
who had died in the blast,
and delivered them to her parent --
it's been sixty years since.

On December eighth,
I recalled the attack
on Pearl Harbor
but the papers ran
no articles covering it;
time has elapsed.

I am aware that
white matter brain syndrome
grips me now and then;
I wonder how long the peace of mind
I have at the moment will last.