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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Keiko Kudo (female)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 7 years old at the time / current resident of Fukuoka

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. When I come to write about my experience, I don't think it's possible to cover everything because there are too many stories to talk about. But I want to leave all the stories behind while I am alive. I was exposed to the atomic bomb a few steps from my house in front of Ushita Elementary School.

The record says I was exposed to the bomb three kilometers away from the hypocenter, but in fact, I was a little over two kilometers away from it. This was an intentional error in writing by my mother who worried about discriminatory treatment in future marriage proposals. As my house became uninhabitable after the bomb, my father, mother, younger brother, our house-maid and I, with a cat in my arms, went as far as Ujina on foot. Although my house had stood in front of an elementary school, I had been commuting to Army Saimi Elementary School about 500m from the center of the town by recommendation of my ostentatious parents.

I went to school to get my homework on the previous day, August 5. On that day, two new teachers arrived at our school to teach us, and I had to take them to their place of refuge. The next day, we had to return to school because we had been told that those who were second grade and above were to be given some dumplings made of grass. I used to leave home with my father who would go to the hospital in Ujina to work as a doctor. On that day, August 6, we were late because just before leaving home, a neighbor asked my father to see him, and we were eventually exposed to the atomic bomb in front of our house. Naturally, all my friends died. Since then, I have been taken ill many times and tasted more than enough pain as an atomic bomb survivor, and I have thought of death many times.

I have been told that I may have thyroid cancer (but not for sure) and also told to get it removed by operation, but I declined. Now, I manage to enjoy holding a service for my departed friends while I can still utter a voice by telling my story of being exposed to the atomic bomb and the plight I have had thereafter.

After moving to Ujina, I found that I had problems with my leukocyte count because all my mosquito bites suppurated. Rolling up the washed bandages of all the members of my family was my daily routine. My cat died soon after because even a small wound couldn't be cured. There was a Girls' School in front of my house. In the school grounds, people dug holes every day to cremate the bodies of those who died one after another. The foul smell kept afflicting me even after ten years. Even now, I react automatically to light and sound with extreme sensibility. They are scary to me.

It took much more time to recover from diseases or a cold, and now I ascribe this to the mental shock I received by the atomic bomb attack. What my mother told me by my bedside was, "Since you should have died at the age of seven, you should give up if you can't recover."

How sad and painful was my mother's heart when I nodded in assent by answering "yes" to her sorrowful persuasion. Though I married, I had miscarriages five times. A university professor told me that it was impossible for me to become pregnant, but I didn't give up and eventually was blessed with three children. However, after giving birth to my children, a thought, like other people, always occupied my mind about how I could apologize to my children who were the second generation of an atomic bomb survivor if something dreadful happened. At present, I take care of my husband who suffers from aphasia due to a cerebral infarction he had two and a half years ago. I inject insulin into him, have him take his medicine, think about the calories of his meal and act as his guardian. I manage to live my life like this every day.

Though my life has been a hard one, I think I should accept this hardship by returning to the starting point of my life because I was given a life, not death. Now, I have come to even be grateful for being alive. However, I am already 72 and don't have the physical strength like most people which makes me unable to do anything for those who have died and for peace. When I think about this, I truly feel sorry for them and my heart aches. What I can do is to hold a service for the departed souls by sutra-chanting every day. So, I feel I must apologize to them from the bottom of my heart. Was there any significance in my remaining alive?

The wounds I received were made by a big piece of broken glass sticking two mm below my left eye and a burn in my right arm, whereas many other people suffered more serious wounds. However, I know I was soaked in the so-called black rain and received a lot of secondary radiation. And I am thinking there is the possibility of some kind of effect from the radiation on my body appearing during the remainder of my life.