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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"
In August 1981, I received a telephone call from the Atomic Bomb Youth and Maidens Association, for the first time in some years. It was about some students coming from Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo to hear stories from Hibakusha. I agreed to meet them.
In the summer of the same year, a Hitotsubashi student called me. I said "In the evening would be convenient for me." What I knew about Hitotsubashi was that its level is very high, and that its students are almost as intelligent as those in Tokyo University. Two students, Mr. Aoki and Miss Higaki, visited me later. I did not know what to talk about; I just answered their questions.
That was the first time for me to talk about my life, how it was affected by the atomic bomb. Opening up my sack full of confined memories of being an atomic-bomb victim, deep in my mind I was rather surprised at my detailed recollections. However, I remember talking to them quite superficially. With my eyes closed, I am sometimes shocked by the vivid memories of being held by my father while I was seriously wounded, with my swollen stomach.
I remember that Hidehiro kept stuck to Miss Higaki, and kept waving at her until he lost her sight. I do not remember if I saw Aoki again. I saw Higaki whenever she visited Nagasaki. She was honest and gentle. When I asked her what kind of job she would choose, she said, "I would enjoy talking to passersby about cabbages and radishes. Commodity shops will be nice." It could have been a good choice, but I did not think she would make it. I did not say "You can't." I expected that she would learn a lot of things through experience. After a decade of silence, I learned that she seriously engaged in research about Hibakusha even after she started to work, and that she met her husband while involved in such research activities. In her letter, she said, "You are virtually my matchmaker, because if I had not seen you and other Hibakusha, I would never have met my husband. I'm leading a happy married life."
In 1981, Takae was in her 2nd year in junior high school. She became what they call delinquent. Coming back from school, she did her face, and frequently went out at night in eye-catching clothes. I often scolded her, because I was worried and did not know what else to do. I regret what I did. However, I ardently believed that it was the best I could do for her.
One night in winter, I waited for my daughter to come home, because I thought it was time to talk to her seriously. I was in my shop with the kerosene heater on. It started to rain, then sleet started to fall. At last, it snowed. I was mumbling to myself, "That silly girl… must be feeling cold." I filled the bathtub for her. When the street was covered with snow, Takae came back home, stooping. I said, "You should come home much earlier when it's cold. You'll catch a cold. Take a bath and go to bed." I could not say anything else. I hated myself being such a silly father.
My children and I sometimes got irrational and senseless. When my daughter was acting thoughtlessly, I felt she was like a kite flying away with her string cut. All I could do was run after her while she was blown in all directions. It was hard enough not to lose sight of her. I occasionally asked myself how long I had to keep running; the wind sometimes blows so hard. The kite might fall on the ground, or it might be hooked high on a branch in the end. I was not sure if I could climb up the tree, loosen her string and bring her back to her senses.