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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Takako Chiba (female)
'Chokubaku'  2.5 km from the hypocenter / 3 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo
292

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. On that day. my mother, who was A-bombed inside a building within 2.5 km of the hypocenter, went looking for my two brothers who went missing while seeking refuge. What she saw was nothing short of hell. Miraculously, she managed to find my brothers eight hours after the A-bombing. Though half-collapsed, our house didn't catch fire, so we lived in the house for more than three months.

After that, we moved to Ashiya in Kobe prefecture. In my school days, I was physically very weak and was often absent from school because of fever. When I became old enough to get married, there was a rumor going round that many hibakusha gave birth to deformed children. Believing the rumor, I thought to myself, "I should not get married or have children."
However, I met a man, who asked me to marry him. When I hesitantly disclosed the fact that I was a hibakusha, he said resolutely, "I will shoulder the burden with you." In spite of the opposition from those around us, we decided to get married. After that, I often collapsed from anemia and suffered nosebleeds, but what bothered me most was the fact that I didn't get pregnant for nine years. Others around me, and I too, kept worrying that it was because of the A-bombing.

At last, I did get pregnant, but unfortunately the joy of pregnancy didn't last long ? I had a miscarriage before I was entering the third month of my pregnancy. While I was grieving over this sad incident, I got pregnant again. This time, I was hospitalized and advised to stay in bed until my pregnancy became stable. At long last, I managed to give birth to a perfectly healthy son, and then we were blessed with a second son a year later. Our third son followed, but since he had cyanosis right after birth and would often vomit milk, we were told that he might have a heart defect. When I timidly told the doctor that I was a hibakusha, he said, "If that's the case, the effects would have manifested in your first child." I thankfully put my hands together in prayer for the child I had lost through miscarriage, because he was the one who was burdened with all the misfortune and had passed away even before he was born.

Every time any of my three sons fell ill, I blamed myself for having given birth to them as second generation A-bomb victims. Somehow, all three of them grew up just fine, and my second son met a wonderful woman, who accepted the fact that he was a second generation survivor and married him. I was so happy! When my first granddaughter was born, I was greatly relieved to find that she was normal, because I had been worried about whether she would be normal or not, since she was the first. A grandson followed, and both of them are growing up healthy.
However, I am still worried about if and when the "nuclear-damaged DNA " inherited by my sons and my grandchildren will someday show its fangs... I am very worried indeed.

I am now a member of the A-bomb Survivors' Association, giving them a helping hand when necessary. I often have the chance to talk with other survivors, and I strongly feel that what we experienced on that day 64 years ago is not at all a thing of the past; on the contrary, it is a heavy weight that remains deep within our hearts.
My husband, who always supported me, suddenly died of heart attack three years ago in his sleep. He would often take over my hibakusha telephone consultation duties when I was away. I remember him dealing with other survivors by politely listening to them and taking notes. It is because he was willing to shoulder my burden that I was blessed with three sons and now get to look after my two darling grandchildren along with my son and his spouse. I remain very grateful to my late husband.

I strongly feel that, in order to build society where my sons and grandchildren can live in peace, it is the duty of us survivors to share our experience with as many people as possible to help them identify with it.
I sincerely hope that we are the last generation of people who are tormented on a daily basis by this kind of uneasiness. Nothing is as valuable as peace.

I'll visit New York in May.
I plan to deliver this message as a delegate of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.
Our suffering is not a thing of the past; it is continuing into the present. Anw will it will continue in the future? Yet people tend to say, "Someone had a terrible experience somewhere some 65 years ago, and that's all."
(2010)