16. Grief at the Loss of My Eyesight

My background

I was born as the first daughter to my parents Jiro and Take Ishibashi on June 12, 1910. I had two younger brothers and two younger sisters. We used to live in Kuramoto-dori, Kure. When I was three years old, we moved to Koami-cho, Hiroshima due to my father' s job. After graduating from Kanzaki Elementary School, I entered Hiroshima Municipal Girls' School. But I quit the school, and stayed home doing the household chores.

Enormous flash

At 7:30 a.m., on August 6, my family, seven of us, started breakfast after praying that nothing bad would happen on us for the day. At 8:00 a.m. an air-raid warning was issued. But a little later it was lifted, so we were clearing up the breakfast table. At 8:15 a.m., with enormous flash and deafening roaring sound, my house instantly tilted. The moment my body was thrown into the air, the pillars, the walls, the ceilings, the sliding doors of the house collapsed and I was trapped underneath. The right side of my forehead was seriously bleeding. A broken stick of a sliding door stuck in my left eyeball and I couldn‘t see anything. Fires started out of the broken houses here and there. I frantically crawled out from my wrecked house, and headed toward Kawara-machi. I eventually got to the riverbank. The area around me was a sea of fire, so I jumped into the Honkawa River. I was clinging to a floating timber in the high tide and we splashed water to each other because the heat of fire was unbearable. I remained in the water until late afternoon. As the fire went subsiding, I got out of the river, and I slept in the open air on the riverbank that night.

On August 7, I received some treatment on my injury at the shelter, Kanzaki Elementary School. On August 16, I was transferred to the first-aid station at Honkawa Elementary School and received treatment through August 31. On September 1, I moved to my acquaintance' s house in Kannon-mura, Saeki-gun and went through a difficult time. The injury on my head became better thanks to the treatment at the Ohmae Surgery Clinic in Itsukaichi-cho, Saeki-gun, but the severe pain in my left eye continued.

In October 1945, I went to see an eye doctor at the Red Cross Hospital and had my left eye examined. The doctor found a fragment of the wooden sliding door imbedded in my left eyeball. He had to remove the eyeball and replaced it with an artificial one. My case, seemingly, surprised the doctor.

Struggling against the disease and hard life

Five of us, my mother, three younger brothers and I lived in a shack we built in the ruin, where our burned house used to stand. I worked as a laborer in Dobashi, the job was created as the City' s unemployment project, or sold eggs of the chickens I kept in the vacant lot. We made a living on a small income.

My younger brother was admitted in a mental hospital in 1963. My mother died of pneumonia at the age of 79 in 1967. She had had too many hardships in her life. Since then I was living alone, but breast cancer was found. I was hospitalized in the A-bomb Hospital and underwent an operation in April 1968.

As I was worried about my future; health and a solo life, I entered the A-bomb Survivor‘s Nursing Home in October, 1973. I am happy here with no worries at all. I am so very grateful.

Written by Kiyomi Ishibashi (70)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
Inside the house in Kawara-machi, 1.2km from the hypocenter
Acute symptoms in those days
General fatigue, fever lasting three weeks, cuts on forehead, losing sight of my left eye
The dead in my family

The author of the stories here comes under “Hiroshima Council of the A-bomb Counter-disaster Measures ”, which is the managing body of the Funairi Mutsumien, Hiroshima A-bomb nursing home.

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