JAPANESE

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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Chisako Hori (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.6 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Kagoshima
6691

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. It's now the 64th summer since the A-bomb was dropped back in 1945. Everyday memories fade like mist, but that day in Hiroshima I will never forget. The older I get, the harder it is to bear.
Father always used to say "If only you'd been a boy. All we've got is girls..." And, being a mere girl, I ended up in the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital Nursing School.
That unforgettable morning I was in bed in the nurses' dormitory. Suddenly there was an enormous blunt force: a blow like being smashed with a huge sledgehammer. The next thing I knew, I was squatting down in the ruins of the building. Next to me, I caught sight of my senior. Ms. Tanigawa, desperately struggling to stop the cascade of blood spurting from her head. There was another person, absolutely motionless, upside down against a pillar. Luckily, I had happened to be by the entrance, protected by the wall. Just the day before, I had changed beds with Tazuko Sakamoto from the Miyazaki branch, who I later heard had been killed instantly. From the back of the building came a jumbled chorus of voices crying and pleading for help. I had no idea what could have happened.

After a while I could sense the building was on fire somewhere, but I couldn't move. All I could muster were some small spasms from my mouth, just opening and closing helplessly. In the nick of time I was rescued by a soldier who was a patient in our hospital. I should have been too exhausted to walk and I've no idea how I left the hospital and what I did after that but eventually I was put up in the Ninoshima Island Quarantine Station. What I remember is the blackened people in the smoldering ruins of the city, wounded with flaps of skin hanging off their faces and hands, their clothes in tatters, crying, "Give me water …Mother …Water," and falling to the ground.
During the week I was in the quarantine center. the orderlies removed the innumerable shards of glass from my right side. My head was swollen, my whole body was stiff and I had no sense of pain.
Around the eighth day I was able to return to the hospital, but it had been transformed into a scene from Hell. This had been the Hiroshima Army Hospital, proudly flying the Red Cross flag and bringing aid to the people, and I was horrified to see what it had become. Countless victims were spilling out of the entrance and into the garden; patients were laid out in every available space surrounded by maggots and flies. I have no idea what I did there; a couple of times I had spoken to friends and they didn't even recognize me.

Life at the hospital was unbearable, and it was decided that some ten or so of us would go back to our parents in Miyazaki. As we were making our way through the treeless landscape to the station, a group of B-29s on a reconnaissance flight passed over, and we scattered like frightened birds before a hunter. What a pitiful sight we must have been! The incident of that day remains so vividly etched into my memory.
My home village was far down in the south of Miyazaki prefecture, and with the railway line destroyed in several places it was an almost impossible job getting there. We first had to get off somewhere near Iwakuni, and as it was getting dark, we stopped for the night. My bloodstained underwear was making me so sore that I got rid of it. My unwashed face was unmercifully plagued by mosquitoes, which I had no strength to brush away, and drowsiness got the better of me.
"I might just die here…I want to see Mum and Dad," was all I thought.
Chancing to look up to the sky behind a mountain, there were the stars of Scorpio constellation shining bright: with Antares glowing so red, so very red! Somehow, there was a piece of bread in my hand.