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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


Harsh words by teacher


A new school building was built when I became a 2nd grader. It was a nice, strong 2-story wood building with wide windows that had glass, which blocked cold wind in winter. School lunches started in May 1948. They served dark-colored bread with skimmed milk. Nobody would eat them if they were served today. However, I enjoyed them. There were often flea and lice infestations. On such occasions, teachers kindly scattered DDT pesticide around our necks, under our shirts and on girls' hair, when we line up in the corridor.

One day, when I was in the 3rd grade, I came upon Mr. K, a teacher, in the corridor. When we passed each other, he said, "Komine, can't you walk straight ahead? Look at the way you walk. You walk like a crab." I should never have been told such a remark, which tormented me. How can a teacher say that to a pupil? I wanted to believe that all teachers were like Ms. Okubo, who taught me when I was in the 1st grade. That remark and the fresh memory of the 'stolen' bread incident confused me. To make things worse in this case, everybody laughed out loud, including Mr. K himself. In the middle of the laughter, tears fell from my eyes and wet the floor. K should have seen my face and realized my hatred. All I could do in response was to glare at him.

I was left there alone for quite a long time. It was impossible for me to quickly shake off my misery. I was beginning to learn how hard it is to live the life of a Hibakusha.

I began to prefer staying alone, away from others. However, I kept on trying hard to accomplish my difficult task of walking straight ahead. Each time I did so, the keloid on my foot would split and bleed. The burned part seemed senseless, and I did not feel much pain. By the end of my 4th year in school, I was able to walk quite straight, which I had dreamed about, though my foot would often split and bleed dark blood, particularly in winter.