15. Thankful for My Long Life

My background

I was born as the first daughter to my parents, Torataro and Fusa Matsui. I got married into the Tanaka family at the age of 22, but separated for some reasons.

A-bomb exposure --weakening body

My husband was 63 and I, 43 years old when we were exposed to the atomic bombing in our house, Kawara-machi. My husband, Muneo Wakao and I were trapped under the collapsed house. Luckily we had no external injuries and escaped on barefoot in desperation, with the only clothes we were wearing then. Chased by the flames, we went to the south in Funairi-machi along with many others in the heat. We came to a temple where we drank some water. Together with many other people, we were still there when night came. Even the name of the temple has slipped out of my memory, but I can never forget the taste of the omusubi or rice ball given to us the late afternoon of 7th and the happiness at that time.

We stayed there about one week, I think. On the third night when I was getting into the air-raid shelter under the corridor, I slipped and fell. I remember how much I was upset, because neither medicine nor doctor was available. Since we could not stay there forever, we left the temple and went to Kaita-cho where my husband' s eldest son was living. We depended on him. Around that time severe diarrhea emaciated my husband. I was also suffered from diarrhea and bleeding from my mouth. In Kaita we stayed at the Yokohagi' s and saw a doctor in the neighborhood for the first time. Many delicious figs given to us were another blessing.

My hair came off entirely in the autumn and I felt awfully cold. I washed my bald head with clean water of the deep river and prayed. A friend of mine gave me hair oil that was hard to get by in those days and I used it. Whether or not it worked I' m not sure, but my hair began to grow little by little, which made me very happy. We are deeply indebted to many of our acquaintances for various vegetables, thanks to which we regained our health. We, at length, could afford to live alone with my husband and settled down in Danbara-cho. Shortly, however, my husband died of illness. Living alone, I had a lower back pain and anemia. I was hospitalized in the A-bomb hospital and became hardly able to walk.

Joy of outing

I entered this nursing home in 1973. The Home is well facilitated and I am grateful for my easy life here, free from worry. It' s a pity that I can' t walk, but the occasions for going out in a wheelchair such as sports meet and Bon dance festival or just to the park are my only comfort. The other day we were taken to the Asa Zoo in a bus and had a very nice day. It was a long while since I last rode a bus. Over the bus window to and from the Zoo, I was surprised to see the suburbs having been developed. I was glad that I lived this long, although I am alone with no children. Above everything I am very thankful to those who take care of me day and night.

(This was written in December, 1980 by Matsui who died the following month, January 16.)

Written by Hatsuo Matsui (79)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
Inside of my house in Kawara-machi (1.1km from the hypocenter)
Acute symptoms in those days
No external injury but diarrhea in September, gradual loss of hair to baldness
The loss in my family