7. Missing Children

  Time flies. Stars change. The nail marks of the devil seem to disappear. However, the deep scars in the bottom of our hearts will never disappear.

  Hiroshima City, in a moment, became a ruin and a living hell. At that time, nobody knew that it was an Atomic bomb.

  It was 8:15 am on August 6th, 1945. Twenty-six years have passed since that moment occurred. I really do not want to remember it, and I do not forget it, either. The feelings of the survivors are the same, I think. We have been living corpses, working for a living, eating in order to work, and nothing else.

  Dark blood is, even now, coming out of the nail marks made 26 years ago. I have no hope. I just talk to the spirits of people who were sacrificed. I remember the words that my children would say, “ I will not want anything until we win.” And I always say to them, “ We were defeated. You are also poor victims.” That incident which happened 26 years ago is a miserable memory. Now “the Monument for the Victims of Teachers and Children” is to be elected, which has been our long-cherished desire, so I would like to recall this tragedy which was deeply engrained in my mind.

  August 6th

  At eight o'clock the radio said that the air-raid alarm was cleared. It was midsummer. My four children were lightly dressed, saying it was very hot. I made my first son and daughter hurry for school. I did not know why but he did not want to go to school on that morning of all days. Even when his friend Imai called for him, he said, “I'm going to be absent from school today, so please say so to the teacher.” He would not go to school.

   I said to him, “You are a fifth grader, aren't you? You will fall behind your classmates who have been evacuated.” He replied, “Hiroshima will be totally destroyed today. Fliers were distributed from the planes in Ujina.” I didn't know from whom and where he had heard such a thing. Warning him not to utter such words, I made him hasten to school again.

  My first daughter, in monpe pants, left for school, waving her little hand like a maple leaf.

  My first son finally tried to go and said, “Mother and Father, I will not go.” We laughed at his joke and saw him off. But he returned again and said, “I will really go this time. Today I need neither gaiters nor a haversack. Mother and Father, take care.” His words have been strongly impressed in my mind like a deep scar. Why did I push him to go to school? My heart is almost broken. We were doomed to be separated. We saw him off until he was out of sight. When I came into my house, my second daughter (4 years old) was playing, carrying water with a small bucket from a water tank to the yard. My third daughter (10 months old) was wearing only a diaper and playing. Just as I was going to her, I felt a sudden blue flash, like lightning, and heard a loud clattering sound. In a moment we were trapped under the house. After I kept calling my children's names, I lost consciousness. When I came to, I heard my husband's voice in the distance. I realized that I was still alive and called as strongly as I could, “Help! Help!” “Hey! Where are you? Yasuko is alive!” His strong voice seemed to gradually come to me. He removed the obstacles one by one and dug me out. He was holding our third daughter in his one arm. He told me to take her to the first-aid center. I was absent-minded, holding a baby who looked as if she had been pulled out of a slough and dying. Where, on earth, was a first-aid center?

  Before long our house was in a sea of flames. We ran about in confusion with two children, trying to be as far away from the fire as possible. On the way, I found a water tank with ten centimeters of muddy water at the bottom. I tore my tattered monpe pants and wiped my third daughter's face with it, using muddy water. Blood flowed down from her head and bosom because of her injuries. I tore the pants again and wrapped them around her body. Her heart seemed to beat faintly. We tried to run, distancing ourselves from the fire as far as possible.

   Under the buildings around there, a lot of children were calling for help, “Mother! Mother!” and also a lot of parents were calling their children's names. Steeling ourselves against feelings of pity, we joined a long line and escaped to the Hijiyama Bridge where it seemed to be safe. I think the water of the river was at a low tide. The river was filled with soldiers and refugees. Some of them had already died and others were dying. There were some rescue boats but there was a heap of people on them. What a pity it is to say “a heap of people”. There were many people who jumped into the river because of their excruciating agony and died. We tried to head to Takeya National Elementary School to help our two children but we could not go near due to a sea of flames. We strongly hoped that they had fled somewhere to a safe place. We had no place to go and were lodged in the temple in Nukushina.

  It was around five o'clock in the evening. The temple was next to Nukushina Elementary School. The storage building of the school was full of dead people. The refugees and burnt people in the school all suffered from injuries but had no treatment. They just wanted water. A child was sucking her dead mother's breast and could not be taken from her. How cruel it was! A second grader boy was crying, “My grandmother died! Don't die, Grandmother!”, holding tightly a ball of rice in a bamboo sheath. How brutal it was! During the night an air-raid alarm was given and cleared in ten minutes. Holding my dying baby, I waited with the dead bodies and the patients for the dawn coming. It was a long, long night.

  August 7th

  We could not waste time staying there. At 5:00 in the morning we were given five rice balls in the temple and went outside, where an elementary school student who had been separated from his parents stuck to us and asked us importunately for something to eat. We gave him all the rice balls and hurried on to the Takeya Elementary School. Without any vehicle it took us a long time to get there, even though we hurried. On the way we saw a lot of people walking, both adults and children, and some trucks which never let them on. Trucks came from other cities as rescue parties and were gathering the dead bodies. They were raking up the dead bodies with hooks which were usually used by fish dealers. It looked as though they gathered rubbish. It was really a hell. When I remember the scene, I am in a cold sweat even now.

  t was around one o'clock when we arrived at the school. The smoke was still thick. Nothing remained of how we had seen it the morning before, just standing vacant. The steel frames of the entrance hall and the auditorium were bent to a bow-shape, which definitely could not have been made by human power. The white bones, which were still warm, were seen here and there. Who knew how many people had been burnt to die there? We had to assume that our children could not escape from there. Here they must have. That made us burst into tears and we cried and cried loudly to our hearts' content.

  It was in the school kitchen, maybe, where we saw white bones that were still warm. They seemed to be those of a child who failed to escape. We searched around every place we could step in to look for our children's bones. But how could we know? All the bones looked alike. We happened to meet Mr. Chikuchi at the entrance hall, who told us everything about what happened on the morning of the 6th.

  “Mori was not among the students I rescued, I think. But I'm not sure because it was difficult to distinguish whether they were boys or girls. Mori must have escaped.” He seemed to say such words to ease our minds. His words made us happy and suddenly we had hope that they must be alive somewhere. We tried to think so.

  August 8th

  We wanted neither status nor property any more. All we had was ourselves, so we prayed to God to give back our children. Praying for that, we again went to the school the first thing in the morning of all. They were still missing. We gathered the white bones of the three students into a burnt iron helmet and put it beside the auditorium. Praying for them, we put our palms together. Regardless who they were, we told them to let their families know where they were even in their dreams. We gave up looking for our children in the school and decided to go in and around Hiroshima City. We homeless parents and children wandered from north to south, from east to west. When we came to a fallen bridge, we went to the iron bridge and crawled sideways and crossed it. It was cruel to see dead bodies of persons who drowned in the river.

  We walked and searched for our children day and night. The people with no injuries died one after another. We felt no sorrow or no sympathy for them at that time because we knew that our turn was next.

  August 9th

  In the morning all of my family were completely weakened. My husband could not even move. I went to Takeya Elementary School but our children were still missing. When I hurried back, I was surprised to see my husband. He had a high fever, his hair had fallen out, many dots were seen all over his body and he was suffering from diarrhea. My second daughter also had loose bowels. My third daughter had pieces of glass, which were three centimeters in size, embedded on her neck and bosom. It was the time when I thought, “This is it”.

  How could just one atomic bomb destroy our lives so completely! No, there must have been many victims who have been suffering much more than we had suffered.

  What I wrote here is only one millionth of the disastrous scenes at that time.

  Now my second and third daughters are married, but who knows what they feel day and night as A-bomb survivors. Only the people who have experienced the A-bomb know that.

Written by Yoshiko Mori(Kawara-machi, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Mieko Mori (a first grader at Takeya National Elementary School)
Hiroshi Mori (a fifth grader at Takeya National Elementary School)