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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Mikiharu Tonkyo (male)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 12 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. At ejght-fifteen, when the atomic bomb was dropped, all the children were playing in the school yard. Suddenly, there was a tremendous flash of light and a loud booming sound! Pika DON! The glass window panes instantly broke.
I lay down on the ground just as I had been told to do if such a case as this were to occur.
Everyone was immediately dismissed from school.
When I returned home, I found that all the glasses were broken and the chest of drawers had fallen upside down.
Since my house was on a hillside, I went up the hill backwards to try to see what had happened.
(The house is now a tollgate site for cars passing from Hiroshima to Kure) Gazing in the direction of Hiroshima, I saw a huge pink cloud rising up into the sky.
In the meantime, fires broke out here and there throughout Hiroshima and spread instantly.
Scared, I went to my school (I remember it was around high noon) and there I was asked, "Is your teacher here? " by a man whose right arm was missing.
(He said that he came from Hiroshima; at that my teacher also seemed upset.)

In the afternoon, atomic bomb victims were brought into the west building (the school auditorium).
The vice-principal (our class teacher) and Ms. Kodakari (the teacher in charge of the6th grade girls' class) ordered us students to help rescue victims. Everyone was frantic.
"Ouch!" some survivors yelled, while others groaned.
Although disgusted, I picked worms from their bodies, and fanned them with a Japanese uchiwa fan (I was often scolded by the adults to fan more gently) .
In the school playground, people burnt the corpses of the dead.
It was so hard burning in the midst of the summer heat. Everyday someone died.

As my house was on the hillside of mountain, many soldiers brought a lot of corpses on stretchers from Kanawajima Island to bury them in the mountainside beyond my home.
They took a rest beside my house. Therefore, I could hear the soldiers' conversations about the corpses they were carrying. They would say things like one body was too heavy because it was too fat or how many corpses they would bury that day.
The total corpses they buried was somewhere between fifty and one hundred bodies.
(A few weeks later the stench got so bad that I couldn't stand being home)
My father came home when it was almost dawn. He was exhausted from having been out rescuing people in Hiroshima the evening the atomic bomb was dropped (I suppose he was helping to remove and dispose of dead bodies.)
He repeated again and again, "I have been to the battlefield as a soldier, but the scene I saw today was so cruel and real hell."
He had to shake off the people clinging to his feet for help while he loaded bodies on to trucks in the same manner as one would do when handling firewood.
(I couldn't forget the story my father shared with my mother and me as my mother shared the ration of dry bread our father had received)
The fire burnt so brightly all night that we could easily recognize the survivors' faces. (Of course I couldn't sleep a wink the whole night.)

A few days later, I entered Hiroshima with several friends. (I think it was out of curiosity.)
Walking along the Kyoubashi-machi Street, we peeked into the present Hukuya Department Store.
Far from the usual smell I had grown accustomed to, (quite different from the cremation smell.) there was a horrible and abominable smell.
We told each other that we didn't want to stay any longer, and immediately ran away.
The street was not so wide like today, and the street cars lay sideways, red from rusting.
On the way back near Kyoubashi Bridge, I saw a boy with a blackened face, drinking water from a faucet.
(The water from the tap was only trickling.)
Walking from Hiroshima to school, I heard people gossip that no vegetation would grow here for 70 years.
I thought to myself, "Can it be true?" But I quickly dismissed the idea, thinking "That's too serious a matter."
When we arrived at school, we noticed there were less people present.
It seems that had they either passed away or were taken to another place.
Every year on the memorial day of the atomic bomb, during the moment of silence I pray with my palms joined together in front of my bosom, while tears run incessantly down my cheeks.