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For Those Who Pray for Peace
I Long to See Ms. N, My Friend of 7 Days
- Kasumi Miyai (maiden name, Kawate)
52nd Graduating Class of Hiroshima Jogakuin High School before the war,
2nd Graduating Class of College of Clothing Design
Residing in Aki-ku, Hiroshima City
As we come upon the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb, I am finally ready to record my experience. Time flies. It's not that I spent the days in obscurity, but I feel as though I haven't done enough. Looking back on my life, I realize how seldom I felt well or full of vitality.
During the war I was working at the munitions factory as part of the Student Mobilization Workforce. We were only allowed to attend class once a week. I had just advanced to college a week prior to August 6, 1945. The young female students who were full of hope and inspiration were gathered in the Assembly Hall for chapel. At 8:15 as they were about to exit the building, a single atomic bomb took away their lives.
They call the atomic bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima "Pika-Don," but in my memory it is "Pika," which describes the flash. The flash blinded me, and the 3-story building instantly crushed my nearby classmates. I wondered how long I lay there. It was quiet, a space completely void of sound.
As I regained consciousness I heard a hissing sound and felt a puff of air coming from the back of my ear towards my cheek. Nobody was speaking. Then the silence was broken by the sound of wooden beams settling. I felt pressure around my body and was gripped with fear. I heard Ms. N, who had been walking next to me at the moment of the blast, call from outside: "Is there anybody here?" The students under the rubble began to yell at once, and Ms. N dug them out, one by one.
School Principal Takuo Matsumoto and another teacher, Mr. Isao Matsushita, rushed over and told us to escape to Mt. Ushita. I jumped over a tall fence and ran away from the fire without really comprehending what had happened. I don't remember how I got there, but when I came to a place with trees, I realized I had arrived at Sentei Garden (Shukkeien). The gardens were filled with burned and injured people, all in a daze, as if they were sleepwalkers. It was a wonder how they all got there. Everyone sat quietly in the rain as if they were just waiting for the time to pass. In a stupor, we watched the fire across the river. My classmates decided that we should all try to get as close to our homes as we could and so we parted ways.
After the war ended, we were called to school. I expected to see Ms. N, but she never returned, even on our graduation day. Later I heard that she had passed away shortly after the bombing. She must have been exposed to a large amount of radiation in the blast. It truly is a pity.
I will never forget the fear I experienced trapped under the building. Time has not erased the vivid memory of claustrophobia and pain I felt under the beams. I wish I had another chance to speak with Ms. N. Had she been alive I believe she would have been a friend, dear to my heart. We would have grown old with each other. I fold my hands in prayer each day.
This is my way of recording that fateful moment and my experiences that followed.I live in peace and gratitude.
… 77 years old