8. Little Boys Never Grow Older in My Memory

  Twenty-six years should be a long time. Looking back, however, it seems to be only recently that six of my sister's family died. That detestable August 6th is coming around again. That morning, I had breakfast with all of the familys and went to work, without having the slightest idea that it was the last time I would see them in this world.

  8:15 in the morning!! That flash!! The city of Hiroshima turned into ruins instantly. In those days I was working for the Second General Headquarters, and I was exposed to the bomb there. The misery was so incredible I couldn't speak, and I helplessly watched those who came, one after another, fleeing from the central part of the city. It was beyond description. I worried about my family in Takajo-machi, but the city was already a sea of fires and impossible to enter. My boss stopped me from searching right then. That night I was put up at the senior officers' lodging in Fuchu-cho. I spent a sleepless night as I watched the burning city of Hiroshima.

  Next day, on the 7th, I was determined to enter the city. Going down the Aioi Bridge, I turned right. But, because of large heaps of rubble, I could hardly step forward. Finally, I managed to get to the site of my house and found it in miserable condition. The house was collapsed entirely. Only a daikoku figure, the god of wealth, which had been put on the alcove, was seen there remaining intact. It was a dreary sight to my eyes. My sister and her children were trapped under the broken house. The youngest three were killed instantly, not even having a chance to call for their parents. The oldest boy, Hisao had been missing since fleeing toward the riverbank wanting a drink of water. I immediately went to the riverbank and looked for him here and there, but could not find him. How far did he go for water? Or, I wondered, did he collapse before reaching water? I searched for him under the scorching sun, not minding the heat....

  In the meantime, B-29s were flying overhead with fearful roar, which scared me to death. “Hisao, forgive me. I could not find you. Perhaps I should have tried harder. You must have been waiting to be found. Forgive me.” What did the young boy call for when he fell down? Innocent young boys had to die defenselessly. The heat must have been unbearable. They must have wanted to drink as much water as they liked. My heart was broken with grief and resentment because I could do nothing. Still, I didn't give up entirely, and I waited and waited hoping that they would, someday, come back to me calling, “Sister!” I had waited enough, yet the boys did not return to me.

  It was when I was a girl's middle school student that the boys, who were born in Tokyo, came to live in Hiroshima. They were so lovely and I was very happy to be with them all the time. They became attached to me and called me “School Sister.”

  But, once in a while, we had a fight because they were mischievous. One time I found one of the boys playing with my precious harmonica. I chased around after him in the house. I was scolded, “He is only a little boy and you, a big girl. What a shame!” I can faintly see that distant scene in my mind.

  The war intensified, day after day, when Hisao was in the fifth grade and Masahiro in the third grade at Honkawa National Elementary School. Hisao was evacuated to Miyoshi in a school group. But, my sister brought him back to Hiroshima because she wanted to die together if that time came. Seeing that, my father said that the children had to be protected in a safe place, so he made my sister's family evacuate to Kannon-mura, Saeki-gun. However, on August 4th, all of them came to Hiroshima. My father told them many times to go back to the country. Yet, they delayed saying, “One more day...” And their lives were completely changed. If only they had listened to my father...is my futile complaint, isn't it? The articles left by the departed were so neatly put in order that I even hesitated to touch them. At the sight of these things, tears welled up once again, and I felt strong anger and hatred against war.

  People of my nephews' ages have now become good fathers and they are enjoying their lives in peace. But the boys in my heart never grow. The picture of the young boys who used to call me, “School Sister” is imprinted in my mind. They must rest in peace together with their father and mother, under this ground. I try not to disturb them. I believe that we should never make the mistake of war again.

Written by Sadako Takashima(Kanon-machi, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Masahiro Suzuki (a grader Honkawa at National Elementary School)
Hisao Suzuki (a fifth grader at Honkawa National Elementary School)