published on 10/15/1998, translated by NAGASAKIHIGASI HIGH SCHOOL (12/21/2005)

I was thirteen years old when it happened. I was a second-year student at Nagasaki Prefectural Technical High School. I was enrolled in a shipbuilding course. Suddenly a siren rang. Seven students including me ran to the shelter at Aburaki-machi. Soon the alarm was lifted. We went to a well on our way to school because we were thirsty. We saw a parachute. “Something is falling,” I said. There was a bright light; we covered our eyes using our hands. Suddenly I felt a strong force from my right side, making me curl into a snail shape and blowing me into a rice field beyond the road. My body was burnt. I was red hot and festering,and my flesh was bare. I felt like a dried cuttlefish scorched on a barbecue.

I did not feel much pain. The other six students escaped instant death, too. We walked toward Ohashi. There were fires everywhere. On the road, there were many dead bodies, some reduced to ashes. One person had both of his eyeballs protruding from his face. He approached us, carrying a person who had no legs. Someone spoke to him, and he responded, “At last I am able to talk with someone.” Then he died. The person he was carrying on his back had already died.

In the evening my eyes began to swell up. Then I could not see anything. I spent a nervous night with my friends in a bamboo grove. The next morning, I received first-aid treatment from a relief party from Isahaya. I lay on the ground at Nagasaki Commercial High School. My parents heard of my whereabouts and came to meet me. When they saw my burnt body, they were in shock.

My parents, grandmother and brothers were safe. They were at my parents’ home in Umamachi. My mother placed bandages and medicine on my body. In November, I entered the Omura Navy Hospital. In December, my sight began to gradually recover.

A year and two months later, I was able to leave the hospital, but the right side of my face and body remained black because my sweat glands had been burned away. I left the hospital for Omura Station. When I entered the busy waiting room at the station, people suddenly stopped talking and stared at me. I bowed my head automatically, then tears rolled down my face. The seat next to me was vacant.

I went home but I felt the attention of other people and I couldn’t open my heart to others. I spent a long time staying only in my home. I didn’t want other people to see my face and body. “Are you just going to live your life at home?” my mother asked. “I would rather die than live because I have such a blackended body!” I cried.

There were only a few people near Suwa Shrine. I decided to practice walking slowly at first. 100 meters today, 150 meters tomorrow.

At the age of seventeen, I finally went back to school. After graduation, I got a job at a grocery store in Yorozuya-machi. I knew that my life had changed forever because of the atomic bombing. I had to change the way I thought, and I had to strive to live a positive life. I had lived through an awful experience. However, I also realized that people are good at heart. Even when their own lives were falling apart, people came to my rescue. We helped each other, and from that experience I learned that I must always look for the positive, not the negative.


吉田勝二さん(1998/10/15掲載) 翻訳・長崎東高(2005/12/21)