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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Sumikazu Kanayama (male)
'Chokubaku'  4.5 km from the hypocenter / 13 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
In 1938 (the 13th year of the Showa era), when I was six years old, there were eleven people in my family: my grandparents, my parents, one uncle, three aunts, one younger brother, one younger sister, and myself.

When I was six, my second oldest aunt died at the age of nineteen. When I was seven, my father was called up, and soon after, as if following in my father's footsteps, my uncle volunteered for military service at the age of sixteen.

My eldest aunt left our house after getting married and my mother, who was left behind, was unable to get along with her parents-in-law, so she left as well, taking my younger brother with her. (She married again a few years later.) As the family's heir, I was left behind. However my younger sister, since she was only a one-month old baby and it was difficult for our family to bring her up, was put up for adoption. Then when I was eight, my grandmother died at the age of forty-nine.

My father was sent home from military service due to sickness and died at a hospital in Nagasaki at the age of thirty. Misfortune seldom comes once and my uncle, who had volunteered for military service, also fell sick at the front and died. Around that time, my youngest aunt left the house to be married, so only my grandfather and I remained.

My grandfather was working aboard a ferry at the port of Nagasaki. He went to work at six o'clock in the morning and returned around midnight every night. He always came home drunk and singing in a loud voice. In those days, I thought he was a horrible grandfather, but now I realize that those days must have been so hard for him that he couldn't get by without taking refuge in the bottle. No words could express the feelings of my grandfather, who had to perform the funeral rites for two wives (his second wife died of breast cancer) and four children.

My eldest aunt married a man who worked on a fishing boat. As the state of the war became serious, his boat and crew were drafted and dispatched to detect fleets of American ships and he drowned at sea.

I heard that my younger sister, who had been adopted, lived happily before the atomic bomb was dropped, but her foster father died because of the bombing and her foster mother was forced to earn a living as a day laborer. Their life became so tough that my sister had no choice but to get married at the age of sixteen. She gave birth to two boys and died at the age of twenty-eight.

Years later, I invited my brother to my house. I was in year six and my brother was in year four of elementary school when we were exposed to the radiation of the atomic bomb. My brother has been suffering from liver cancer for more than ten years. I had an operation for stomach cancer on the 22nd of March this year (2005) and have just recently left the hospital.

I believe that the suffering inflicted on my grandfather because of the war should never be inflicted on human beings ever again. To this day, I can't say how many of my teachers and classmates died because of the atomic bomb. "Kanayama! I am done for!" Those were the last words of one of my classmates.