11. Although He Came Home the Day Before

  Shizuhiro was my youngest brother. At the time of A-bombing, he was a sixth grader in Seibi Elemenary School, where I had also learned.

  I was living then in Hirao, Yanai City, Yamaguchi Pref. Where my husband, a Navy officer, had been assigned. If I remember correctly, it was around noon when my husband reported to me what had happened in Hiroshima. I heard that Hiroshima City was totally destroyed. A brother and a sister of my husband and my mother and my sister were living in Hiroshima then. I had heard that my youngest brother, Shizuhiro, had been evacuated to Kabe, north of Hiroshima. However, he had come back home on the day before August sixth. I think he had missed his mother. On August 6, he went to his school and was exposed to the bomb on the schoolyard.

  On the morning of Ausust 8, I was allowed to go to Hiroshima with my husband on the truck, which was going to Kure City for military supplies. Then I found Hiroshima brought to nothing. When we reached Koi, we could see Hijiyama Hill, which is on the other side of the city, as if it were within reach.

  My parents' house was located in front of Jogakuin Girls' School in Teppou-cho. There nothing was left but the ruins of a fire. I found water leaking from a broken water supply pipe. Under the scorching summer heat I drank some water, wondering where everyone had gone. Strangely, I still well remember the silence filling the fire-ravaged area in the bright midday sun. I noticed the handwriting on a piece of wood standing at the spot where the homne gate had been. It read, “the Yoshiis have gone to Kabe.” My husband and I set out toward the north, hoping to see someone alive, although se were still at a loss.

  Arriving in Kabe, we learned my mother and my elder sister ahd first fled tot he Sentei garden and then had spent the night in Ushita before going on to Kabe. They both had been injured, but not seriously. However, Shizuhiro was lying on a futon, groaning with a fever. His face, arms and legs were covered with badages. My mother told me that he had been brought in on a cart the day before and had taken a glass of water, and had been suffering without a word ever since. That night, we all slept in a small room together. Shizuhiro's short life ended at daybreak.

  Although Shizuhiro hadn't done anything wrong, he could only be returned to the family in a pathetic body, not knowing what had happedned to him. In the evening on that day, together we carried his small and light body to the riverbed of Nenotani River. Then we surrounded his body with stones and cremated him. Seeing Shizuhiro's body burnig, my husband and I left. We had a ride on a truck to Hiroshima, for we had to look for my husband's relatives who were still supposed to be in Hiroshima. I heard that my mother and my sister had collected Shizuhiro's small white ashes the next morning. My sister died of an A-bomb disease several years later. Discharged from military service, my father came back several months after the end of the war with a heavy backpack filled with things for his youngest son, Shizuhiro.

Written by Akiko Yokoyama(Satou-cho, Asa-gun, Hiroshim Pref.)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Shizuhiro Yoshii (a sixth grader in Seibi Elementary School)