“My watch is broken, so lend me yours, please.” That morning, my brother, who was seventeen years old and three years my senior, asked me this favor, so I lent him my watch. Who in the world could have known that this would be my last conversation with my brother?
At the time, my brother and I were students of Nagasaki Technical High School. There were no classes because of the war, and from April 1945 I was forced to work as a mobilized student with my classmates at the Kawanami Shipyard on Koyagi Island, the present Koyagi-cho, Nagasaki City. My brother was physically impaired, so he went to school as a teacher’s assistant everyday.
That day I was working outside as usual with my back to Nagasaki. Just then, the sky turned a beautiful dazzling pink color and I was assailed by a tremendous blast. I couldn’t figure out what had happened.
About two o’clock in the afternoon, it was announced in the factory that an air- raid had completely destroyed Nagasaki and that people from Nagasaki city should return to their homes. We boarded a ship for the city. Seen from the ship, Nagasaki city was dark, and flames were shooting up into the sky. As soon as we caught sight of this scene, the atmosphere on the ship, which had been buzzing until then, became as silent as a graveyard.
Although my parents’ home in Kamikoshima-machi (now Kamikoshima 1-chome) was so badly damaged that there was barely a place to step in the room, my parents fortunately were safe. But I didn’t see my brother anywhere. I spent an uneasy night in the air-raid shelter that day, waiting for my brother to come home.
At dawn, my mother, aunt and I went to the technical high school in Ueno-machi to search for my brother. I walked through Hamanomochi, climbed the low hill in Kanaya-machi and looked in the direction of Urakami, but all I could see was burnt ruins. I was at a loss at the sight. After that, while walking toward the school, I didn’t feel scared or sorry any longer when I saw the corpses strewn about. I was not in a normal state of mind.
Finally I reached my brother’s school, but it was completely gutted. I tried to find my brother, but in vain. I heard that many people had been carried to Isahaya for treatment. So the next day my mother and I walked all the way to Isahaya and visited the elementary school, searching for my missing brother. But we couldn’t find him anywhere.
On the thirteenth, I went to the school again. My brother’s teacher handed me a small parcel, saying, “This might be your brother’s remains.” He said that he had found it near his seat. It was a small piece of bone reduced to ash, just big enough to fit in my hands.
SEIUN HIGH SCHOOL (10/19/2005)