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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Matsue Komatsu (female)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Shimane

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Around the time I was born in 1929, war was escalating. While spending my childhood in the countryside in Hiroshima prefecture under militaristic education, I never even once questioned the principle imparted to us that we were "to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our country." I remember feeling extremely sad when my favorite fourth-grade teacher was recruited into the army before the summer break, never to return. He had promised that he would take us to Hiroshima during the break.

When I was in my fourth year at a girls' school, I lived in a dormitory as a student mobilized to work in a factory in Mihara. After August 6 and 15, I was allowed to go home, but just for a few days. I was recruited again to participate in rescue work for the wounded. It was a hot, hot summer.

I rode a train, charred black, moving very slowly, with all the windows broken. Its ceiling was filled with huge, black flies. I remember place names such as Kamiya-cho and Hatchobori.

Hatsukaichi Technical School was designated as a temporary shelter. All sorts of people (how else can I describe them?) were lying there. Cuts on their bodies were clotted with pus and blood, and I saw big, white maggots…. There was no way of knowing when these people could expect to receive any medication or medical supplies such as gauze, or, for that matter, any examination. They all lay there, without uttering a word.

The only two exceptions were the following. One utterance I heard was "Dear student, give me some water, please." Some managed to whisper these words, hanging on to the bottoms of our slacks while we distributed rice balls and pickles. But we had been instructed not to give water. The other was, "Thank you very much, dear student. I run a fountain pen shop in Dobashi-cho. When I get better, I'll give you one of the fountain pens stored under the floor as a token of gratitude." He said these words in a hoarse voice.

A truck would come morning and evening to fetch the deceased. Among them were those who asked for some water in faint voices and the one who offered to give me a fountain pen as a token of his gratitude.
Their names were unknown, and their family members were never located, but all sorts of people were silently carried out ― men and women, young and old. One of my friends mobilized to do rescue work died of leukemia at the age of 25, leaving two young children behind. Every August, as I recall the summer of Hiroshima I witnessed when I was sixteen, it wrings my heart to think of the chagrin those who lay on the floor of the shelter must have experienced.