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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Nobuo Shimizu (male)
'Chokubaku'  2 km from the hypocenter / 2 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. 1. My exposure to the radiation was slight. At the time of the exposure, I was being carried on my father's back, with my left arm on his shoulder, as we talked. I was two years and five months old.

At the time of that great flash--"Pika", which momentarily blinded me--I was thrown from my father's back, and landed sitting cross-legged on the ground. I was surrounded by debris and couldn't move at all.

Through a small hole in the debris, at about the height of my abdomen, I could see people's ankles. I cried, "Daddy! Daddy!." Then I heard someone calling, "Hello! Hello!." But my dad never came.

I don't know how many days I sat crying. Then, someone I was acquainted with dropped by the relief camp. By chance, he was searching for a friend, but found a child that looked familiar. After learning from my mother and sister that my father and I were missing, he came back for me. Later I learned that he was my uncle, who lived next door. When we left the camp, he put me in the bamboo basket attached to his bicycle. There were grapes in the basket, and when I asked to eat them, he said, "Yes, go ahead. Eat them." I ate them one after another. Later, I was told that I had been lost for a week.
They were able to determine the place where my father died because of where I had been found. My father's face had been too injured to identify him.

I had mercurochrome applied to my left armpit, left forehead, and face. Small maggots under my armpit were removed one by one with a pair of tweezers.

I still have keloid scars caused by the atomic exposure.

The bomb killed my father. He was 37 years old. My mother died two years later at the age of 35, six months after delivering her 4th son. Since we, five siblings, had lost our parents, three of us were sent to live with our aunt in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Later my siblings were split up to live in different locations. My younger brother, at the age of two, was adopted by another family. My other brother went to an uncle's house in Hiroshima, and my eldest sister found work in Hyogo Prefecture.

My grandfather, eldest brother and I lived together. After Grandfather passed away, I lived alone with my eldest brother under public assistance. I was in the second grade of elementary school. At each meal,each of usate one cup of rice porridge made from foreign rice...public assistance didn't enable us to buy rice to last the whole month. In good times, side dishes were salty kelp and a piece of fried fishcake, if we were lucky. When we ran short of soy sauce, we used salt. As a result, I suffered from malnutrition, and had night blindness which made it difficult to see in the twilight. Once I fell off a bridge and cut my forehead. My foot also got infected due to frostbite. When I entered elementary school, I didn't want to go to school, although starting school should have been a happy occasion. I didn't have any school satchel, arithmetic set, notebooks, pencil, or textbooks, so I had to borrow the items from my classmates every day. Additionally, I was small for my age. So, I was often a target for bullying. "Pika-don (the big splash of light and sound)has arrived!" they shouted.

I had been apart from my sisters and brothers, so when I saw them for the first time after our separation, I wanted them to spoil me.

On the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb, I attended the Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima as a representative of the bereaved families in Kanagawa Prefecture. At the Peace Memorial Museum, I saw a photograph of my parents for the first time since the war. I met my sister after the ceremony and found that some pieces of my memory didn't match hers. Therefore, we went back to the place where our house used to be. I began to remember many things. I remembered how much I enjoyed taking a bath with my father in the outdoor bathtub when he returned home from work. I remembered seeing trains running by when I opened the windows, and I remembered the enjoyment of beibg with my sister perched on her back. All those memories returned.

I said to my sister, "If I had died instead of our father, all of you could have lived happily." She replied that our mother had said the same thing about herself just before taking her last breath.

Then, my second daughter asked me not to say such a thing since if I had died, she would not have been born. When I heard that, my tears began to flow endlessly.

Bombing place: Hiroshima
Bombing site: Aragami-cho
Maybe about 2 km [1.2 miles] from the center of the explosion