JAPANESE

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Messages from Hiroshima

Shiro Kawamoto (male)
'Chokubaku'  2.3 km from the hypocenter / 8 years old at the time / current resident of Shizuoka
10653

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. The next day, (the fourth day), Mother came back with a bottle of sake obtained from somewhere and decided to carry Father on a stretcher to the railway station to take him to his parents' home.
At nine or ten p.m. we arrived at a town called Bingo-Tokaichi. I was also carried on a stretcher to the school. The local people were all very kind. They took us to a home and treated us warmly.
On August 15, we were called to the town's assembly hall. We were told around noon by noisy and unclear voices on the radio that the war was over. Everyone was weeping but I felt nothing.

Refugees at the school left one after another and the the number of refugees decreased.
On August 18, Father seemed to recover and began to sit up and speak in a clear voice. He said that he wanted to eat a sweet peach.
On August 19, around six p.m. when I was crying over a bee-sting, my brother came to tell me that Father had died.
Next day (Aug.20), Father's remains were cremated and with a pot of his ashes I went to his parents' home in a place called Kitanosho or Midori.
I stayed there for two days. Though the house was located far away from Hiroshima, I was told that the door of the bathroom was torn off on August 6.

When we returned to Hiroshima Station, what we saw was a landscape of burnt fields. A burnt carriage from a train remained there.
My house narrowly escaped the devastating fire that came as near as 100 meters. The school was half destroyed and we heard incessantly the creaking sounds and sounds of debris falling with a crash throughout the night.
In early September, we moved, following Father's will, to Nagano Prefecture, Mother's home town. All my family, six in all, lived in various places, with the help of Mother's acquaintances. At school I was called a "child of Pikadon" (the tremendous flash and noise of the atomic bombing).
A miserable life began, during which we lived on poor food distributed by the local government. No food was given out for a month due to supply shortage, followed by a month with a straw bag of sweet potatoes, then another month with a straw bag of beans which were distributed by the local government.
We bartered for food among the neighbors. A neighbor was kind enough to give us some sweet potatoes and their leaves. We ate even the leaves, which bloated our faces.

Mother told me not to go to school one morning. There was nothing left to eat. I wonder how Mother felt then.
One day we ate a bowl of rice topped with cooked eggs in a restaurant in town. How delicious it was! On the way back Mother, my younger brother and I were on the suspension bridge, 50 meters high . Mother was unusually silent for a time with us. Mother lived until she was 77.
I often had a fever when I was caught in the rain. But now I am healthy. I enjoy bowling and playing putter golf to deal with my fat waist these days.
My memory as a child is one of food shortage rather than of the atomic bomb.
(2005)