27. I Lost Five Children

  My husband, Fukujijo, died of cerebral hemorrhage on May 6 in 1939, when he was forty six years old. The third son, Suguru, was two years and ten months old and the fifth daughter, Eiko, was one year old, then. I began to work for the Statistics Section on City Hall, on December 14 in 1942 for the first time, when Suguru was six years and five months old and Eiko was four years and seven months old. I worked, leaving the two children at home.

  The war got more and more serious and we began to lack food. For a meal we ate barely a rice bowl of foreign rice mixed with soy beans, and sometimes cakes of weeds (tetsudogusa) and rice bran, which were often too itchy to gulp down. I heard that the two children shared a serving for one before lunch. At night we often had air raid warnings, so we went to bed without changing to pajamas and took shelter upstairs in a storehouse whenever that happened.

  The eldest son, the third daughter and the second son went to Seibi Kindergarten and School run by Kaikosha. I encouraged Suguru to go there, too. But he chose to study at Fukuromachi National Elementary School. When he was in the third year, school children were told to evacuate. When I asked his brothers and sisters what he should do, they disagreed with the idea. Suguru answered that either would do. But he didn't join it. When I was out, people in the neighborhood often gave something to my children and took good care of them. When Suguru was in the third year, he was a class leader. Though he was small he would often give orders in a loud voice. When he was a baby, he often rode on his father's shoulder, but Suguru and Eiko didn't remember even his face. I shed tears thinking how pleased my husband would have been to see them if he were still alive.

  Around 7 on the morning of August 6 in 1945, Suguru and his sister went to school together, saying “Good-bye.” I was on the second floor of the City Hall. On seeing the yellow flash through the west windows, I was blown off and lay under debris. I thought in the dark, “I must not die now.” I was just worrying about my children. Finally I stood up, saw my face, hands, and back all cut with broken glass, and took shelter in the pond of the Public Hall.

  On the 7th of August, I went to Fukurobachi National Elementary School to look for my children. No one could be seen on the second floor, and two women teachers lay dead in front of a picture of the Emperor. Around the school, fire fighters and volunteer army corps were gathering bodies and burning them at the corner of Hondori.

  Many people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were killed by the A-bomb and even now the exposed people are dying. We victims can't forget the incident even though we try to. My house was burnt, and I lost five children at once. I am living a hopeless, lonely life, praying for the souls of my children.

Written by Asako Akiyama (Kamiya-cho, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Eiko Akiyama (a first grader at Fukuromachi National Elementary School)
Suguru Akiyama (a third grader at Fukuromachi National Elementary School)