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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Matsue Kanzaki (female)
'Chokubaku'  / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Nagasaki
3171

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
My sister-in-law had been hospitalized at the obstetrics and gynecology department in Ima-machi, so I went to Nagasaki from the present Minami-Shimabara to take care of her.

My brother lived in Matsuyama-machi, which was the hypocenter of the atomic bombing. My other brother was working for Kawanami Shipyard. On that day, I looked after my sister-in-law in the morning--in those days, patients had to cook themselves--and went to my brother's house in Matsuyama to do various homework, then came back to the hospital with lots of necessities, sweating all over. As I caught my breath, there was a huge bang suddenly, and when I put my head out of the window I saw the flash. Hot! I put my hands on my face. I cried to my sister that a bomb had dropped, when suddenly the building shook and the pillars came down. Prodding my sister to make haste, I pulled bedclothes over us, but I don't remember how we made it down from the upstairs. There were people trembling in the bomb shelter trenches outside the hospital, not knowing what happened. Soon my brother appeared and we all felt happy that we were alive. He assured that our other brother, who was twenty at that time, was safe in the trenches at Mitsubishi Shipyard, and I felt relieved to hear that. He disappointedly said that nothing was left as far as the eye could see in his neighborhood. Various thoughts must have been flitting through his mind.

I had heard that he had been on the first tank into Burma. After coming back and settling down at last, he was going to have his first child. Now I can imagine his new thoughts.

Encouraging himself, he said that we should go to Kawanami Shipyard anyway. Sister and I followed him, barefoot and covering ourselves with bedclothes. On our way to Ohato, there were lots of black-burnt bodies falling on top of one another, smelling bad. Trembling and shrinking, I couldn't look them in the eye. That was really Hell itself. Now I feel for my brother, who helped and encouraged his sick wife and sister to walk to his company.

I had gotten bruises, and had some fragments of glass stuck into my skin. A doctor working for the shipyard removed the fragments. After spending a night in the bomb shelter trench at the company, I went to my sister-in-law's parent's home at Mie-machi, where I waited for the train to move. I appreciate my in laws family letting me stay at their home.

I couldn't forget those horrible memories, but I didn't want to talk about it.

Half a century has passed, and I hear the news about high school students working hard for the non-nuclear movement and appealing to people all over the country.

About ten years ago, I began to tell my grandchildren my experiences of that miserable situation.

Talking about my family, four of my brothers and sisters were in Nagasaki at the time of the bombing. Father and one of my brothers, not knowing what had become of us, entered the city two days after the dropping of the A-bomb to search for us. The brother working for Mitsubishi Shipyards returned home and died at the age of 22, the name of his disease being uncertain. My biggest brother died at 40, and Father died at 50. My sister-in-law and brother both died of cancer. I feel sorry for them. If they had not been atomic bombing victims, they could have lived a little longer.

Among the six members of my family only I have lived long. I lost my sight in the middle of my fifties, and had an operation for cataracts then in my late sixties I had an operation for lung cancer. I guess I should not be proud of my illnesses, but I am happy being surrounded with good doctors.
(2010)