published on 3/14/1996, translated by SEIUN HIGH SCHOOL (10/19/2005)

I was a 15-year-old student in the fourth grade of Keiho Girls’ High School at that time. I had been mobilized to work at the arms factory. At the moment when a bright light flashed in the sky, it occurred to me that a torpedo had burst and I quickly lay down with my arms over my head.

I jumped over charred bodies and went to the center gate following a man who was stumbling along. Though I wanted to flee with two of my classmates, I couldn’t. “Go ahead! Don’t worry about me.” “Never give up. Keep on walking. We are waiting for you.” Those were the words we said to each other as we parted.

Walking across an embankment, I hid myself in the shade of a big tree in a temple which had been completely destroyed by the blast. The burn I had suffered on my left arm and the injury to my right arm began to throb with pain. I felt something lukewarm on my back. I had suffered a cut on the back of my head, 3cm from my right ear all the way to my left ear. There was a hole the size of a golf ball and as deep as the second joint of my finger. I almost fainted, shivering and hallucinating. In the dream, I was walking barefoot along an endless path between rice paddies. There was a vast field of rape blossoms. It was a balmy day, and I felt happy. When I tried to follow an old man in white dress who was beckoning me from behind a red shrine gate, I was called back by someone saying, “Don’t sleep!”

The students of the teacher’s college carried me to the roadside and laid me there with some other injured people. In the evening, my father came looking for me, calling my name. Barely conscious, I replied. I was carried on a board to a clinic in Nagasaki and received treatment from an army doctor.

Purplish-red spots appeared on my body and my hair fell out. Although I recovered from the injuries, it took my hair ten years to grow back completely, which confined me to my home. I worked at a cosmetic company in Nagasaki for a year and a half. After that, I was transferred to the head office in Tokyo and worked there for about 30 years from 1956. I think I wanted to change my classmates’ burnt faces into beautiful ones. A member of the managerial staff, I was charge of 300 employees when I retired. I came back to Nagasaki seven years ago.

The year before last, cancer was found in my left breast and I had to have it removed. There remain pieces of glass in three parts of my body including my spine. I didn’t marry for fear of the birth of a deformed baby. I sometimes wonder what my life was about. I intend to donate my body to scientific research on the atomic bomb.

SEIUN HIGH SCHOOL (10/19/2005)

堂尾みね子さん(1996/3/14掲載) 翻訳・青雲高(2005/10/19)