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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Youth and Maidens Association


The year 1982 started in the middle of such a quagmire. In early February, I received a phone call from Mr. Taniguchi of the Atomic Bomb Youth and Maidens Association. I had not been in touch with them for a long time. I apologized for my long silence. He told me that a professor from Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo was coming to Nagasaki for research and interviews with Hibakusha. I asked him to give me a couple of days to decide if I would be available for the interview. A university professor from Tokyo… Among my regular customers was a Nagasaki University professor. When he comes, I have to be careful about what I say. A professor has a special kind of dignity. A Hitotsubashi University professor must be somebody really special. Nevertheless, I was quite interested. Then I had a chance to drink with Morooka, the surgeon. "Why not?" he said. "It's time you take part in some activities concerning nuclear weapons."

On February 10, Professor Masaharu Hamatani and his students came to my house. Ms. Higaki, the Hitotsubashi student I had met, was his student. He came with his jumper on, and a bag on his shoulder. I had the impression that he had always been well-off, though he was in casual clothes. I liked his way of speaking with no sarcasm or affectation. The interview took an hour or an hour and a half. I remember he suggested that I take part in meetings of the Atomic Bomb Youth and Maidens Association.

I had a lot of things to think about as my children were growing up: Takae was in her 3rd year of junior high school, Satomi was in the 6th grade, Hidehiro was in the 2nd. Like the old saying that you can take your cow to the water but you cannot make it drink, I was feeling my inability to teach my children anything, while talking to them about a lot of things every day. However, I could not afford to ignore them. Takae was going out of control.

A family is supposed to live together at home. My house did not look like a home. We were slipping out of the category of family. I often had terrible automatic thoughts. In my mind, I detested and condemned my divorced wife and the atomic bomb. If I had never been hit by the bomb, I would have lived a different life, a much happier one. I hated my lack of ability and wisdom. I wondered how I could ever get my family back to normal. I was so restless. I could not help drinking a lot every day. I knew that drinking would never give me any solution. I only expected that alcohol would ease me and keep me from going crazy. I kept borrowing money. It was hard to think that no one would listen to what I wanted to say. When I was younger, I thought about myself and what I wanted to do. Now my head was filled with worries about my children.

Professor Hamatani's suggestion came right in time. I needed to see some other Hibakusha and talk. That might clear some of the fog and dust from my head. I decided to go to the Hibakusha group.

Hisaikyo or the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Sufferers Association has an office on the third floor. The first floor is a restaurant; the second floor is a souvenir shop run by Hibakusha. I went up to the third floor, but I was reluctant for a while. "Hello!" I said loudly, and went into the office. Mr. Senji Yamaguchi, Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi, Mr. Toshiyuki Hayama and some other people were present. I must have been quite a stranger there, but everyone welcomed me with a smile. Then I was able to calmly reflect on my past, the 20 long years after I had met some of them. I felt that I changed instantly. Was it because I was with my Hibakusha colleagues? I looked around and saw a lot of wrinkles on faces. There must have been a lot of sorrows and hardships behind those wrinkles. They were so friendly. They treated me as if they had seen me every day for years. Though I went there without a clear notice, they seemed to understand what had made me go there. To me, they were like my ideal elder brothers. I had never been accepted that way. "I'm glad I came," I said to myself. I was almost crying. After this occasion, I went there quite often.