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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


1.Wounded by the Atomic Bomb, physically and mentally

Hit by the A-bomb

I was born on November 29, 1940, in Nishigo-Karimata, Nagasaki City, as the third son of the Komine family. My parents already had two sons and two daughters then. Karimata, surrounded by mountains, was a small settlement of 9 families that lived on agriculture. I was later told that by 1943, when my younger brother Kunihiro was born, all 9 families helped one another like one big family, and that I had grown up to be "a clever-looking, fair-skinned boy."

On the morning of August 9, 1945, not knowing that the demon was coming over, I went out of the house in my undershorts only. I climbed a loquat tree to catch cicadas. My mother had often warned me that I must run into the air-raid shelter whenever I heard an airplane flying. However, cicadas had a much stronger impact on me than airplanes. I stayed in the tree, ignoring the noise from the bomber flying high above me. Suddenly, there seemed to be a bright flash. At the next moment, a blast knocked me out of the tree and threw me hard against the ground. Sometime later, I lifted up my head and looked around. Not one cicada was singing any more. It was dim and perfectly calm. Coming to my senses, I became scared and ran toward our house, about 200 meters away, to find it badly damaged.

Our house was located about 1.5 kilometers north of the hypocenter. My parents, brothers and sisters were all in the house and were not wounded. My grandfather was outside. He was badly burned all over his right arm, from the shoulder to the wrist. As for me, my arms, stomach and legs, almost all of my front part, was burned.

My father found me and yelled, "Come! Come over, right here!" He held me up and brought me into the shelter. I must have felt relieved. I realized, for the first time, that I was burned. As the time went by, the pain grew bigger and bigger. I remember finding a blister, as big as a table-tennis ball, on my stomach. I could not resist the pain and I fell unconscious.

In 1992, when I was preparing my speech about myself at Hitotsubashi University, I asked my mother, for the first time, what had happened during the days of my unconsciousness, because I needed to fill the gap in my memory. Though I was not sure how well my 87-year-old mother could remember and describe, she unfolded the story as below.

There were so many badly burned people like you, dying all over the place, inside and outside the air-raid shelter. One person's shoulder was opened, cut into two like a pomegranate fruit. They kept on asking for water. Some thirsty ones tried to jump into the well. So I drew the water and gave it to them. They seemed to enjoy drinking it, and some of them died while drinking. I was so scared that I tried to go away. However, they clung to my legs and begged for water. So I filled a wooden tub that I found near the well with water, and I left. A little while later, I went back to the well only to find several people dead with their heads in the tub. The surface of the water was covered with something oily. There was nothing I could do. I saw a woman tottering around with a baby on her back. There was something unusual about the baby. Soon I noticed that the baby was dead. I spoke to the woman and told her that the baby was dead. "No! Don't wake her up. She is just asleep." was her reply. She must have gone crazy.

You can't imagine how hot it was in the shelter, and how terrible it smelled…the smell of blood. The ground was very slippery because it was thickly covered with blood. It was so difficult to sleep on the first night. We tried hard to cover the floor with anything dry. But whatever we put on the floor soon got wet with blood. I went out in the middle of the night and looked around. It was all red with the burning fire. The mountains and the city were all burning. It must have been what they call the "hell on earth." The following day, your father and elder brothers built a shack under the loquat tree for you and your grandfather, because they felt pity for you. They thought it was too hard for the badly wounded ones to stay in the shelter.

A child was crying hard in the vegetable field outside the shelter. It was a girl of about 4 years old, with no hair at all. She was sitting right beside her mother lying dead. I brought a rice-ball (Some food was always stored in air-raid shelters.) to the girl. And she gave it to her dead mother, saying "Mama, you are hungry, aren't you? Here's something to eat." I said, "Your mother is dead. Come with me." I pulled the girl and brought her to a safer place, but she would go back to her dead mother soon. I had to do a lot of other things, and I regret that I couldn't take enough care of her. I went back to her sometime later. (It must have been a few days later.) And I found her dead, side by side with her mother. My anger was exploding within me. How I hated the US! I was full of pity for the girl and her mother. When I saw the first rescue team, I asked them to do something about those two bodies, to treat them well.

We took turns to cuddle you, because we felt that you would die soon if we had laid you on the floor. You breathed briefly and quickly, with your shoulders slightly moving up and down. I'm sure your heart stopped at least twice. Your father was able to perform heart massage on you, by simply pushing your chest several times. Then you breathed again quite deeply with some voice.

Dead bodies were scattered all around, just like pebble stones.

"Thank you, mom." When I left my mother's house, I was quite confused.