Tokuso Hamai

Lost lives never come back

4. Life after the war

On August 15, we received a notification from the town office that there would be an important radio broadcast at noon.  People in the neighborhood, including Sadako’s family, gathered and were waiting for the broadcast sitting in front of my father’s radio.  Radios were considered a valuable item those days, so my father had taken his radio along with his gramophone and my mother’s kimonos to Miyauchi.  The power supply restarted at noon, and the radio, which had been silent, began to play.  However, I didn’t understand what was being broadcasted because of the disturbing noises of the radio.  After the broadcast, adults around me talked to each other, “Japan lost the war!” and “There is no knowing what Americans may do to Japanese women when they come to Japan.”

After the war, Uncle Kanji rented a house next to Sadako’s parents’ house, where his wife had been staying for childbirth, and moved into it.  He was also a barber, running a shop in Kajiya-cho (400m from the hypocenter.)  He escaped the A-bombing by chance because he had been out of the city center in Kusatsu since the previous day, responding to the military draft order.  He was kind enough to take me in as a family member.  He never scolded me like my father did quite often, and cared for me.

I went to school every day, but classes didn’t start until October or November.  Students met in the tunnel caves which had been made as air raid shelters outside the school building, because classrooms were used to accommodate A-bombed victims.  Every day, teachers just talked to us for a while.  There were three large tunnel caves with the capacity of about 50 students, and students returned to a classroom once one became vacant, with no A-bomb victims.  When I became a 6th grader, demobilized male teachers with qualifications came back to school.  Until then, we had women teachers and substitute teachers sent from the town office. 

Before I graduated from elementary school, recognizing my good school grades, my teacher advised me to go on to Shudo Junior and Senior High School, a private school.  However, Uncle Kanji said that he would let me go on to high school but asked me to go to a public school instead.  He raised me as his child, equally with his three own children.  So, I went on to the higher course attached to the elementary school.  Under the education reform after the war, higher courses in elementary schools were abolished.  I was admitted to Nanao Junior High School as a third-year student and was in its first graduation class.  After that, I entered Hatsukaichi High School, although only 20 to 30% of junior high graduates went on to high schools those days.  About this, Sadako said a lot of bitter things to me.  I admit that, in addition to her own three children to raise, she must have felt an additional financial burden with me.  When she attended my entrance and graduation ceremonies, she wore my late mother’s kimonos, but seeing her in my mother’s kimonos, I had a very unpleasant feeling.  I don’t remember working hard in high school and often went to see movies in Hiroshima city. 

I later heard that a relative of my late-mother’s had wanted to take me to Hawaii, but Uncle Kanji turned the offer down, saying that he would raise me.  For a long time, that relative was concerned about me and sent us a lot of things, such as shoes, clothes, rice, sugar and candies.  Strangely, every parcel had a hole before getting to us.  I think someone must have stolen some contents during its shipping.