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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Shimako Yamaguchi (female)
'Chokubaku'  0.8 km from the hypocenter / 25 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
When I wandered through the interval between heaps of hideously burned dusky-red corpses, where there was almost no place to step, somebody grabbed me by my ankle and said "give me water, help me... water" in a feeble voice and wouldn't let me go. I was just scared and began to flee feverishly to escape from the grasp. The scene at that time is still engraved in my mind's eye and the voice saying "water, water" still lingers in my ears. I bitterly regret that I didn't offer him a sip of water.

Even now, I have nightmares of black arms grabbing my leg. I struggle to shake off the arms and get away from them, but they just keep coming back. I shout and wake up at my own voice and I often lie awake all through the night. I can't help trembling at the thought of the incident. I experienced a lot of traumatic events. Words cannot describe my feelings.

On February 15, 1954, my mother passed away, like a candle flame that flickers and wanes, when purple spots came out all over her body. A visiting doctor had told us that she wasn't suffering from any life threatening disease. My cousins also died without warning at the ages of 16 and 18.
I think today's young people are really lucky.

I hope that peace will last forever but I am worried about the future of Japan. The destiny of Japan rests on the shoulders of the young people but they seem to live as they please. They tend to take the lives of others so easily for granted just because things don't go the way they like, or they are too weak to run away from life just because it's difficult. They think too little about their "one life." It's a real shame. Lastly, please don't forget about the 60-year sufferings of hibakusha like me and never start another war or call us useless people who failed to die.

On August 9, 1945, at 11:02 a.m., I was exposed to the A-bomb at 558 Takenokubo-machi 2-chome, in Nagasaki. Due to indoor exposure, I have neither burn scars nor keloid scars. I was crushed under the house and was only able to survive after feverishly limping out of it without any belongings. My hellish life started on that day and all the 65 years since then have been days of fighting with diseases. I don't know how long I will be able to live but the black hands that grabbed my feet on that day still appear in my dreams and I will never be able to forget them as long as I live.

I think entitlement for Special Medical Care Allowance should be certified for any A-bomb survivors who were directly exposed to the A-bomb within 2 kilometers [about 1.2 miles] from the hypocenter whether they have keloid scars or not. I have an A-Bomb Survivor Health Book but don't have a Special Medical Care Allowance certificate. I haven't been able to submit an application form up until today. A doctor's certificate, which can be obtained only from a government-certified hospital, is required for the application. Since I often moved from one place to another and changed hospitals, I would be told at the current hospital that since they have no records for me at the time I got the diseases, they can't issue a medical certificate.

Repeated attacks from diseases and subsequent operations fills the past 60 years of my life. As long as I live, I can't go without medicine. I can't keep my physical well-being without taking medicines until I die. Though I have already given up hope that I will receive authorization of having A-bomb disease since it's too late, I believe there are many other A-bomb survivors who are also under similar situations as mine and can't receive the authorization. The number of A-bomb survivors is decreasing year by year. Therefore, the authorization of A-bomb disease should be given without condition to at least those who were directly exposed within 2 kilometers [about 1.2 miles] from the hypocenter. Though I was exposed to the A-bomb 800 meters [about half a mile] from the hypocenter, I have neither burn scars nor keloid scars.

There is much more I want to write about and talk about, but I can't read my letters because of bleariness of my eyes. Please forgive me for my clumsy handwriting.

Covered in the death ashes, drifting from place to place
Tears well up at the sight of our burned-out house
Blackened hands follow my hobbling feet around
Voices for help still linger in my ears
No houses to stay to protect from the Black Rain
Never forget the days I wandered about
Exposed to death ashes of the atomic bomb
Battle with diseases last until I die
Every day on thorns of onset of diseases
Who can know the struggle of my life?