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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Yoshiko Sugimoto (female)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 15 years old at the time / current resident of Kumamoto

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. The mountains cry.
And the rivers grieve.
I think we shall never again see the green of Hiroshima.
As a testament to the cursed day
I write these tanka poems.
My daughter is gone,
And an A-bomb survivor am I.

These are the first two pieces in the collection of tanka poems, 'Life of Flowers,' published by my late father. I think these poems fully reveal his feelings.

During the war, Father worked for Mitsubishi Corporation as an engineer and we lived in the company residence for employees. That morning, my little sister Kumiko went to the hypocenter area to help clear debris of demolished buildings. When I returned home just after the explosion, Father had already gone to look for Kumiko.

Father was totally exhausted when he came back home late that evening. He said that everywhere there were badly burned young students asking for water. Though he felt very sorry for them, Father said there was nothing he could do, so he headed home. In search of Kumiko, Father left home every morning with a rope in his hand. After some time, he began taking candles and incense sticks instead. But he never had a chance to use them, and not a single possession of Kumiko was ever found.

The sorrow and regret that my parents felt over the loss of their beloved daughter must have been unbearable, especially since we had only lived in Hiroshima a little over a year. After the war, we moved to Kumamoto, probably because my parents couldn't bear living in Hiroshima, so full of memories of the disaster. In his later years, Father spoke against nuclear weapons whenever possible. He gave a speech on his experience as an A-bomb victim at schools and other places, and produced recorded tapes, exhorting 'No More Hiroshima!' On August 6, we often accompanied Father to Hiroshima.

Now, Father is dead and Mother is aged. We therefore no longer attend the ceremony, but we watch it on TV and talk about the old days. In my heart, my sister is still a thirteen-year-old girl. Until the day before her passing away in Hiroshima, Kumiko had always asked for zenzai, sweet adzuki bean soup with rice cakes. This summer, I intend to cook zenzai again to offer it on her grave. I will visit her soon.

After my family's experience with the A-bomb, we eventually settled down here in Kumamoto. Since then, I have lost Father, then my younger brothers, and Mother a year ago. When I visited Hiroshima with my children last year, I was very moved because at last I could see the photograph of Kumiko. She was thirteen years old as I had always remembered her. Before leaving for home, I hoped and prayed that I could visit her in Hiroshima as often as possible and call her "Kumi-chan" once again.