6. Crying Out for Parents at the Top of Her Voice

  “Mom, I wish we could eat our fill of silvery white rice, even if it were just once. Don't you?” I still clearly remember her words. Every time she said that, I would answer, “We can eat anything we like if Japan wins this war. Let's be patient, shall we? It won't be long.” We, Sachiko, my daughter and I, often talked like this.

  She was a kind child. I remember one day when she brought home a small box of candy from the factory where she had been mobilized to work. She didn't eat any of the candy until she got home, and she shared them with her mother, brothers and sisters, saying, “I wanted you to eat it, so, I was pretending to chew one on the way back home with my friends.” I cannot understand even now why such a sensitive sweet child had to die before us. As everything was confidential at that time of war, she didn't tell how she had been mobilized to work. We didn't ask her, either. One or two months after she was reassigned from the previous factory to Tamura, the day, August 6 came.

  We waited, yet she didn't come home. As I was inquiring from every person who might know her whereabouts, there was one who had seen her running towards Furuichi-cho, Asa-gun, and another one who had not seen her. So, my husband went towards Furuichi-cho first, and searched for her a whole day in vain. On the following day my husband and I went to Tamura factory. On our way walking along the bank of the Ota River, we saw many dead bodies and we wondered if they could be called human's bodies. In spite of those bodies, we still believed our child had taken refuge somewhere. We were not told that more than forty of employees and mobilized students were dead in the factory until we arrived at the gate of the factory. There were torn pieces of clothes, iron helmets and other belongings displayed by the gate, but nothing there looked like Yukiko's to us.

  On the third day we began visiting every rescue station, looking for her. Our two-week search brought us nothing. To make matters worse, I came down with severe diarrhea. My husband, however, didn't give up and continued searching for about one more month. Deprived of our beloved child and all of our belongings by the bomb, we spent days heartbroken and absentminded. One day in mid October, word came from the factory that Yukiko was found under the pile of bricks. We hurried there. Although we could not believe her death, we brought home a piece of bone.

  On every August 6, we would visit the site where we suppose she died and put up a standing lantern there. But, since we felt uneasy to ask a favor to enter the private property where the site is located, we stopped visiting. The years have passed, but my heart has never healed. I still feel sorrow and pain, thinking that she might have caught fire before she had lost consciousness, that she might have called out for her parents' names at the top of her voice, and that she wanted to eat silvery white rice just once, of which we now have more than enough. As I offer a bowl of hot rice to the family altar, I say to myself, “Eat your fill of rice, Yuki-chan.” I am spending my days like this.

   Strongly imprinted in my heart is the image of Yukiko, wearing a white headband and a girls' service corps volunteer armband, a first-aid bag hung on one shoulder and an air-raid hood on the other, and carrying a lunch box packed with the usual soybean mixed rice.

  I hate the horrible atomic bombs that victimized hundreds of thousands of people in the war and killed many who were young and innocent people. Another such tragedy must not happen anywhere in the world. I hope from the depth of my heart that the tragedy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the first and the last.

Written by Itsumi Takebayashi(Eba-Nishi, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Yukiko Takebayashi (a second grader at Misasa National Higher Elementary School)