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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


Reunion and marriage


On January 1, 1966, I was 25. I visited a nameless shrine in my neighborhood. Clapping hands, I prayed, "May I live another year with good health, without any symptom of leukemia!" On an early morning in early March, the master's wife woke me up, saying, "A telephone call for you, Komine-san." I wondered who was calling. My parents? No, it was from the girl. Holding the receiver, my hand trembled. She was almost gone from my mind. I did not understand why she had to phone me. Her parents had called me and told me to stay away from her. She must have agreed to forsake me, though she once said that it did not matter if I was Hibakusha. "I've left home. Please meet me at the station." she said. I was totally confused.

I went to the station. I thought I should send her back to Nagasaki on the next train. There, I saw the face I was trying to forget. I felt something strange. Tears were in her eyes. She looked as if she was throwing herself into my arms. If nobody had been around, she would have done so.

"It's been a long time. Have you been well?"

She nodded. I asked if her parents had known that she was leaving. She said yes. I wondered what to do. She did not have enough money to go back to Nagasaki. She seemed reluctant to call home. I thought they might be worried. Therefore, we chose to send them a telegram. On the train back to my home, she blamed me for leaving Nagasaki for Osaka without telling her. So I told her what had happened, what had gone wrong in Nagasaki, though I could not mention my suicide attempt. She looked so surprised, with her eyes wide open.

"Hearing that you quit Tokyo-do, I tried to find you. But I couldn't find any clue. Finally, I went to see your parents to learn where you are. I've left home. My parents opposed it. But what else can I do? This is the only way."

I learned that she really had not known anything. This girl and her parents should not be blamed. The atomic bomb is the only one to be blamed. Therefore, I got to Osaka to get away from the atomic bomb. I was realizing that it was time to end my journey of escape from the atomic bomb. The escape lasted only several months. It was time to go back to reality. I had to face the fact that I am Hibakusha. I had to be stronger for her. I felt that I would have to keep hiding away forever, if I had not accepted what I had to.

I received a telegram from her parents. I was stunned to read: "We allow your marriage. Our daughter demonstrated determination by leaving home." I had not thought of marriage. However, I thought we might lead a happy life like everybody else. I did not tell her what her parents wrote in the telegram, because I needed some time to make up my mind. On the next morning, I took her to a friend who ran a beauty parlor in Toyonaka. Noriko was allowed to stay there for a while.

One week passed so quickly. I knew that I had to do something about it. One thing I had to do was meet her parents. We sometimes have to observe the proprieties. I decided to quit the barbershop. The master hated to dismiss me. I also had some attachment to the shop. Noriko and I were on our way back to Nagasaki. At her house in Katafuchi-machi, five people lived: her parents, an elder brother, an elder sister and herself. No wonder, as the baby of the family, she was a little childlike. Everybody was kind to me, but I kept feeling strained. I felt like running away or hiding myself. When I saw her father, I could not believe that he was the one who had made the fateful phone call. I wished I could shake off the memory of that phone call.

We had the wedding ceremony at my parents' house. After it was over without any disturbance, Noriko and I went to a nearby inn to stay overnight. There, I remembered that I had a serious problem called keloid. I remembered what happened in a public bath where my elder sister took me when I was in the 2nd grade. Everybody had gotten far away from me and I was all alone. Back in the hotel room, I did not know what to do. I could not hide my keloid forever. My lovely wife was right in front of me. I wanted to hold her tightly in my arms. However, I was much too afraid of her possible reaction when she saw me. I noticed that I was shaking. How I hated the atomic bomb! How I hated the USA! Put me back to normal. In my mind, I was seriously demanding that. I would be making her miserable and unhappy from the very beginning. That is the last thing anybody should do. I was feeling terrible, partly because I drank a little, though I seldom drank at all.

She seemed to be observing me. She said, "What's bothering you? Why do you keep silent? You look sick. You are going to feel better soon." Then she pulled my Yukata pajama a little and opened my chest. What she saw was enough to scare her. She quickly covered my chest again and turned away in silence. I was sure she was in tears. I was also voiceless with some pain in my throat.

How terrible! How miserable! I was the offender. I did hurt her. How could I, who had given her the pain, comfort her? Poor girl. Sorry. In my heart, I repeated and repeated it. That seemed to work a little to comfort me. Pillows were wet with tears. However, after midnight, hearing her breathing, I noticed that she was asleep. She must have been tired after the ceremony. I could not sleep at all. In the morning, I thought I would allow her to go back to her parents' home if she wanted to. She acted quite normally as though there had not been any problem. Though I appreciated her consideration, I was feeling out of place. I wanted to go to Osaka again and work.

We stayed in Nagasaki for only about 3 days and left for Osaka, with only about 140 thousand yen. A friend in Toyonaka helped us find an apartment. We slept separately. We did not have much to talk about. One night, Noriko asked me to turn off the light. "I trust you. And I depend on you. You are the only one," she repeated and clung to me. She might have been feeling lonely and helpless, as she was 5 years younger than I and was not used to living in Osaka. She had to accept me with the keloid. I appreciated that. However, there was no denying that some deep scar would remain in her mind.