22. Finally I Found Him, But...

  My husband was dispatched to the war front right after the Greater East Asia War broke out and he died there a half-year later. My sister-in-law also died seven months after she had delivered her third son. Her husband, my brother, was drafted leaving his old mother and three children. I lived through the hard time of the food shortage along with my mother, my brother's three children and my own two children.

  That unforgettable August 6th came one week after I had had my mother and our two younger children evacuated to my mother's hometown and the rest of us had moved to a new house in Kanon-machi. It was because our house in Showa-machi had been demolished. On that morning, my nephew left home for school after the all clear sounded. Our house was by the river. On our way to the second floor, we saw my son playing on a raft in the river. I was curious that he was playing outside so early that morning. I had never dreamed that such a terrible thing would happen to us. After going upstairs and sitting on the floor, I saw that flash. Then I was buried under our house. After my daughter rescued me, I saw the formally clear surface of the river had become black. And I couldn't see an inch ahead of me.

  Although I couldn't find my son and it was hard to leave the place, my daughter and I fled to the foot of the Kanon Bridge, because flames had broken out here and there. While others fled toward Eba, to the south, we couldn't leave the riverside, because of my son. When we went down to the river, we saw a small boat moored. We got into the boat and rowed it to the middle of the river. Then we saw another approaching boat with a lot of people on it. When the boat came to about two meters away from ours, a boy jumped into the river and swam toward us, saying, “Mom!” I couldn't describe how delighted I was at that time. I thanked the gods and Buddha for his surviving. But I was surprised to see change in him when I rescued him. Since he had been burnt all over his body and then had jumped into the river, all of his skin was peeled off except the part under his loincloth.

  We were told, “A doctor is treating at Kanon Junior High. Go to see him,” when we took a rest at the riverside. I could neither hold him in my arms nor carry him on my back because of his peeled skin. He put his palms to mine and we walked slowly, taking a rest after every single step. It took us over three hours to reach Kanon Junior High. Although he had only Mercurochrome applied, I was pleased at his having been treated. I had decided not to let him die by devoting myself to him. But my prayer was not answered and he died on the following day, August 7th.

  My nephew, on student mobilization duty, had been missing since the A-bombing. Feeling sorry for my drafted brother, I searched around several temporary shelters for him. I finally found that he had died at a shelter in Koi on that day.

  I don't know how many times I have wished to die since my husband and my son died due to the war. I would often feel, “If it had not been for that war---.” That horrible memory will remain in my mind as long as I live.
With prayer.

Written by Teruko Kono (Ushita-Asahi, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Shigeru Iseki (a fifth grader of Takeya National Elementary School)