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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Anonymous (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 17 years old at the time

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I lost many of my relatives and friends to the A-bomb blast. However, among all of them, I cannot stop thinking of my youngest brother even now. My mother had died of illness when I was twelve years old and he was one. After that, I kept house for our family of five, even though I was still a child. In 1945, my youngest brother was a second-grader at elementary school. His classes were held at a temple because part of the school building was used by the military. We called it terakoya, or temple school. He studied very hard.
On August 6, he went to the temple-school, and I was still lying in bed at home because I was not feeling well. He has been missing ever since.Even now it pains me to think that my brother, who had the courage to live without knowing his mother's love, died so young because of the A-bomb.

I would like to write a little bit about my experience when the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Those days, my father was ill and away in his native town for recuperation. At home, I lived with three younger brothers and a younger sister. The oldest of my younger brothers went to middle school and all the others to elementary school. I was seventeen years old and was their acting parent. I had managed to live through those difficult days while keeping house and taking care of my younger brothers and sister.

At 8:15 in the morning on August 6, 1945, I had been feeling unwell from the previous day and was lying in bed. Those days we seldom had any quiet time because of the air alert siren that sounded day and night, the people who were trying to flee town, and the enemy planes that flew over us. Since the air alert that had been issued was lifted, I seem to have fallen asleep while hearing the noise outside. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and the sound of a huge explosion. I woke up and sat down. Then, the house began to collapse on me. Everything happened in an instant, so I could not figure out what was going on. I only thought I was going to die, but when I came to, I found myself still alive.

I managed to pull myself out of the collapsed house. The hot and bright sun had vanished from sight. All the houses around there had fallen down, and because of the dust and smoke, the whole area was totally dark. The people who had been talking loudly outside the house until just moments ago had disappeared. I just stood there, unable to figure out what had happened. After a while, as I looked carefully, all the people that I saw in the dark were silently bleeding from their faces and heads. Some were trying to crawl out of the fallen houses. There were also those whose skin had turned black. For the first time then, I realized that something horrendous had happened. Worrying about my younger brothers and sister, I called their names loudly. My second younger brother, who had his arm broken, and my sister managed to come out of the fallen house. The oldest of my younger brothers also came home safely. We four siblings were safe, but our youngest brother did not come home. We did not even have time to worry about him.

Fires had broken out in different parts of the city. We could not find a place to take refuge. We were in great danger. We decided to run to the nearby river. When we came to the embankment, a two-story house had just collapsed, and a girl, who appeared to be about five or six years of age, was buried alive under the debris. She was under a thick column, showing only her face and arm. She was in great pain and, crying badly, called to her mother for help, but no one paid attention to her. My first younger brother ran to her and tried to pull her out from the debris by the arm, but to no avail. She only cried loudly in pain. The fire had come close to her, so I called him back as loudly as I could. The mother could only watch the girl burned to death in front of her eyes. She finally put her palms together in prayer toward her daughter and fled the place.

We finally got to the riverbank. On our way there, I saw many people collapsing and dying. A young woman who did not have any obvious injury lay down unconscious on the sand, and her baby boy, covered in mud, was crying desperately. Perhaps he was very hungry. A man who seemed to be her husband came by, picked up the baby, and told his unconscious wife in parting, "I pray you will be reborn in a place without suffering."

Here and there, people were calling out, "Give me water. Soldier, please give me water." There were many soldiers who were still in clean uniforms, but none of them even tried to help. Maybe water was not available. Even though some of the people managed to drink water from the river, most of them died there. Their clothes were torn to pieces and, as time passed, they lost their hair and their skin turned black. Because of their horrible burns, large pieces of skin peeled off from their bodies and hung down in tatters. What a terrible condition they were in! The entire scene was more like a picture of hell than anything in this world.