Testimonies

Intolerable Recollections

Izumi Izuhiro

It might have occurred yesterday, the memory is so vivid. Whenever I recall what happened after the bombing of Hiroshima, I cannot restrain my tears.

My husband, who had been drafted into military service, was working at an army division headquarters in the city. On the morning of August 6, 1945, our daughter, Takako, then a freshman in a girls' school, left home in high spirits. She said, "We must keep up our courage and strength until we win the war."

I went into the bathroom to draw a bath. I knew that Takako would be home at noon, and I thought a bath would refresh her. While there, I heard some schoolchildren shouting, "Look! A parachute!" I looked out the window and saw the parachute descending slowly. Something was dangling from it.

In the next instant, a blinding blue flash struck. I was hurled to the floor. A giant mushroom-shaped cloud rose into the sky. It did not fade. The blast blew the roof off the house, smashed all the windows, and destroyed almost everything inside. Before much longer, a black rain fell and drenched all the tatami mats on the floors.

Outside I saw people dragging what at first looked like white cloth but what I later saw was skin that had peeled from their bodies. Some of them came into the remains of our house. They lay down on the wooden floor of the veranda and begged for water or for some kind of covering. Many of them were extremely cold, though the weather was blazing hot. I could do so little to help them. When I gave some water to a schoolgirl who had been blinded and whose hair was singed and crinkly, she thanked me, said she would never forget my kindness, and died in agony.

In my concern for my own children and my husband, I made two trips to a nearby bridge that they had to cross to come home. But the city was ablaze, and I could not travel farther alone. All along the roadside lay people dead or dying and calling for water, for help, for their mothers. Nearby a school was still standing. It was being used as an emergency center. I helped carry some people from the wreckage of their homes to the school.

In the evening, my husband returned. He was pale but had managed to walk home, barefoot, from Futaba, where he had taken refuge. Sitting on the front stone steps, he asked for water. When he had drunk some, he said he had eaten nothing since breakfast. I gave him a ball of steamed rice, but he tasted only a little before he was forced to lie down.

Soon an acquaintance came to tell us he knew where our daughter was. He said she was in need of help. Half dead himself, my husband nevertheless rose; and the two of us set out to find her. My husband leaned on me all the way. We left at eight in the evening; but because we had to walk over dead bodies and needed to rest every ten meters because of my husband's condition, it was midnight when we reached the site of the prefectural government office, where our daughter was said to be. My husband called her name several times. "Here I am," a voice cried. But when we reached the place from which the sound came, I could not believe it was my daughter. She was blind, and her back had been burned bright red. She had been lying in a sea of flames. Nearby we found a cart to carry her in. We reached the remains of our house at about five in the morning. My husband had been forced to lean on the cart as we crept along.

We told Takako she was home. She thanked us both. Knowing she liked tomatoes, I gave her some slices of one that I discovered in the kitchen. She seemed to be enjoying them while she ate. But then she complained of pain. As I lifted her head on my lap, with a short groan, she breathed her last.

At about eight in the morning, our son, a student in middle school, returned. His face was pale, and his shirt was stained with blood. At the sight of his disfigured sister and at word that she was now dead, he wept from grief and shock.

Before long, all my husband's hair fell out. His face turned ashen pale. He bled from the nose, the mouth, and the anus and ran a high temperature. I tried to cool his forehead with well water. Muttering, "I've never felt such pain before. Everything in me must be ruptured," he died in an agony I could hardly bear to witness.

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