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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Hatsuko Okimoto (female)
'Chokubaku'  / 19 years old at the time / current resident of Fukuoka

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
After the air raid warning had been cancelled, we returned to the office (the Finance Section of Mitsubishi Shipyard's Saiwai-machi Factory) and started doing our usual work, things like issuing documents and dealing with account books from the storeroom. A short time later there was a terrible noise and the building broke apart. Clouds of dust covered our eyes and ears and we were forced to take refuge under our desks. When I opened my eyes soon after that, I saw bright rays of sunlight here and there streaming through cracks in the broken walls. I was happy to see my coworker also crouching under a nearby desk. Since we thought a bomb had definitely been exploded, I called out for help from where I was, but no one came at all. I found an opening so I crawled out through the rubble.

After I managed to wriggle my way out of the crumpled-down building, I found that everywhere I looked had been completely devastated, the factories turned into twisted metal skeletons. Here and there fires were popping up. I thought it looked dangerous, so I took off running for an air raid shelter. On the way I saw horrific injuries; blood-soaked clothes; faces burned so horribly that the eyes on them were no longer visible; people with blood spurting out of their necks; people crying and screaming out with pain, "It hurts! It hurts!" When I entered the air raid shelter and stepped inside, there were even more injured people, breathing feebly and saying, "Water, please, water!" I wanted to help but couldn't find any water nearby. Buildings, utility poles, and electric wires were all burning in an ocean of flame. It certainly was pure hell.

My mother got trapped under the house but managed to survive by crawling into a small space under the side of the stairs. At her feet she saw, to her surprise, my deceased father's memorial tablet, which had fallen off the Buddhist altar. It was the one thing she managed to save from the house when she escaped. I think Father was looking out for her.

My little brother was a middle school student delivering papers on his paper route when the bomb was dropped. We never found his remains.

My big sister was sickened by the radiation and passed away in an air raid shelter. Her legs had gotten colder and colder as her condition worsened. "My legs are freezing, freezing," she would say. She was gasping for breath at the end. We--my mother, my aunts, and me--carried her away on a wooden door to be cremated with wood collected from the ruins. Every night we used to see the fires of other such cremations here and there.

When we think about those who died without food or medicine, let us vow never to repeat such horrible things again.