4. I Want You to Eat All the White Rice You Can Eat.

  Dear Katsuji, two weeks after you were born, the China Incident started, and ten days after August 6, the war came to an end. Your whole life was spent in wartime, far removed from the decent, peaceful life human beings are meant to live. From as far back as you could possibly remember, the nights were spent in darkness because of the curfew. The only food we had to eat was soybean rice or pounded rice balls mixed with bran. You used to hate the soybean rice.

  That morning of August 6, I had no choice but to cook some soybean rice. You said you hated it, and when I scolded you, you ate it with tears streaming down your face. Then, you went to school. You carried the school satchel on your back and said, “Goodbye, Mother!” These were your last words. You left, never to come home again to your mother. After twenty-odd years, I still ask myself why I scolded you that day. Where did you die? Were you consumed by flames, crying out, "Mother! Mother!"? Did you die suffering from burns and pain and pleading, “Some water, Mother, water!?” I don't care how maimed or deformed you are. Only please, come back to Mother once again. Then, I will take you in my arms and let you eat all the white rice you can eat. This is your Mother's one fervent wish.

  I am writing a letter in a hurry, because I heard about the "Monument to the A-bombed Teachers and Students of National Elementary Schools" from a relative in Hiroshima. I was exposed to the A-bomb in Kami Tenma-cho. My eldest son was a second year student at Tenma National Elementary School. They were expected to go to school on that day. After he left home at eight o'clock, he never came home again. I imagine that my son was exposed to the A-bomb as soon as he arrived at school, because it usually took 15 or 16 minutes to go there. Although I looked for him along the way to the school, in the school ground, and other places day after day, I couldn't find him.

  Still now, even after 26 years, I feel as if he would come back just as he was. We hold his memorial service on August 6 as an anniversary of his death. My husband also died because of A-bomb disease at the end of the year. Our house was burned down. My eldest daughter (2 years old), my mother, and I were left alone, so we were at a loss. We left Hiroshima in July 1946 to live in Ohmura City, Nagasaki Prefecture, because we had relatives there. During the twenty years we live in Ohmura, I often visited the grave of my family in Hiroshima. One day, I visited Tenma Elementary School to ask if they are having any memorial service for the A-bombed teachers and students of national elementary schools. When I heard the answer that they didn't have any except the joint ceremony held by the City, I felt a little disappointed.

  One of my relatives in Hiroshima sent me a newspaper clipping about the monument. I thoroughly support this plan. My eldest daughter grew up and got married. I have been living in Mutsu City, Aomori Prefecture for two years since my daughter's husband was transferred here. Here is my name, address, and the name of my son.

  I think my son will be happy under the sod and rest in peace. Although I live far away from Hiroshima, I would be happy to hear from you.

Written by Kimie Shintani (Mutsu City, Aomori Prefecture)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Katsuji Shintani (a second grader at Tenma National Elementary School)