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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Setsuko Inoue (female)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 8 years old at the time / current resident of Saga

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I was eight years old when my parents took my younger brother to return to Nagasaki on August 6, leaving me behind with my grandmother. Three days later, we learned that an atomic bomb was dropped over Nagasaki and worrying about their safety, my grandmother and I left for Nagasaki in search of my parents and my younger brother.

From Isahaya we got on a horse-drawn cart and rode into Nagasaki. After spending three nights outdoors, we were able to obtain information about my mother's whereabouts from a man who was being carried away on a stretcher. When I finally found my mother, my brother was already dead on her back.(1)
His head was missing and there was already a swarm of maggots moving about at the end of his protruding spine. I shall never forget the offensive odor that emanated from his body.

My mother, in ragged clothes, was barely able to breathe. The moment I clung to her back, I felt the flesh falling off, exposing part of her bone. At the wretched sight, I was unable to hold back my tears! When I let her drink a few drops of water from my canteen, she broke out in large spots, shed a glistening tear and died.

By that time, my father's body had already lost all its flesh and turned into a skeleton. I let the remains roll into a pothole, cremated my mother and brother and gathered their ashes to take home. An old man nearby asked me to care for his grandchild; saying in despair that he didn't care what would become of himself. Needless to say, I had to refuse his earnest request, because at that time, I was too overwhelmed with concern for my own family.

Most probably, the old man and his grandchild passed away soon after - the effects of atomic war deprive us not just on the physical level, but definitely on an emotional level as well. . I am against war and believe that it must never be waged again. With this belief in mind, I will continue to relate our tragic war experiences to our future generations.

(1) Mothers in Japan used to carry their young on their backs with a sling as they go about their daily chores.