Tokuso Hamai

Lost lives never come back

2. Atomic bombing

At 6:30 on the morning of August 5, the day before the atomic bombing, my parents and sister came to Miyauchi, Hatsukaichi where I evacuated at that time.  Then, we went over a mountain to see my grandmother who had evacuated to Hara, Hatsukaichi.  My brother was mobilized as a student and could not come.  My grandmother cooked pumpkin which she grew and we all ate it.  She invited us to stay overnight there, but my parents said, “We have to be back at home because Tamaso will come back after his building demolition work.”  My parents and sister went home at around four in the evening.  That was the last time I saw them.  Even today, I remember seeing my mother’s blue parasol from behind.  

The next morning, I went to school as usual.  At that time, elementary school children went to school every day to cultivate fields and plant and water vegetables on the school grounds even in summer vacation.  Our teacher told us to sweep the grounds using a bamboo bloom, but I played a battle using it as a sword with my friends.  Suddenly, everything was wrapped by a flash and then the earth shook.  I crouched where I was, covering my eyes and ears with both hands as I was trained to do so.  After a while, I looked up and saw big clouds in the sky over Hatsukaichi coming from Hiroshima city.  As there was a blue sky without a speck of cloud that morning, it was a strange sight.  We had put tapes crossed on all the window glass in the school preparing for air-attacks, but all the glass was broken and scattered there anyway.  When we entered the building, we found the classrooms leaning and shattered glass pieces were littered all around.  People who were in the buildings were gray all over, covered by dust that had fallen from the crushed ceilings.  The teachers told us to go home because they didn’t know what had happened.  Hajime, one of my aunt’s brothers, tried to go to Hiroshima city by bicycle, which was about 13 km away, but he could not go into the city and returned from Koi.  I asked what was like in Hiroshima city, but he didn’t answer.  

My brother was mobilized to Zakoba-cho, 1.1km from the hypocenter, for the building demolition.  Houses were demolished to make a space around important institutes and widen the roads and make firebreaks to minimize the spread of fires.  That night, Mr. Furusawa, my brother’s friend, visited us in Hatsukaichi because he had relatives living there near our house.  Then, he told us that my brother had died.  That night, even from Hatsukaichi, we could see the sky over Hiroshima city burning red.

The next morning, when I went to school, desks and chairs in the classrooms were piled up in the grounds.  When I went into the building, each classroom had straw mats on the floor where many injured and burnt people lay.  Injured people were brought in by two-wheel carts and horse-drawn carriages one after another.  Used bandages and cloths were thrown into an incinerator in the back of the building.  6th-8th graders helped take care of injured people, but we, 5th graders, didn’t have anything to do.  Women of the town’s women’s society distributed white rice balls.  As I had eaten only porridge with wheat, I was surprised to see white rice, wondering where such white rice was hidden.

Miyauchi, where I stayed, was coincidentally designated as an emergency evacuation site for people in Nakajima-honmachi.  As Nakajima-honmachi was quite near the hypocenter, people carried from there were all severely injured.  In my memory, no one left the school alive.  At that time, each community in Hatsukaihci had a crematory.  When people carried into that area died, they were incinerated there.  Every day, I saw local people carrying straws and firewood go to the crematory.  I felt uneasy because I didn’t know what happened in Hiroshima city and what happened to my parents and sister.

Later I learned that my Uncle Kanji went to look for my parents on August 7, leaving his bicycle at his relative’s house in Koi and walking into the city.  He went to my house and brought back a handful of remains along with a dozen barber’s scissors and a dish clock.  He told his family about what the city was like, but nobody told me.  The things he brought back were hidden in the closet.  Everyone knew that I wouldn’t believe anything until I saw it by myself, so they decided to take me to the city and show me.