17. Searching for My Nephew

Uneasy night

My family had six members; my mother, elder sister, brother-in-law (military officer), nephew (in the Military Academy), nephew (in Hiroshima Municipal Boys' Middle School) and I. We lived in Chuodori, Takara-machi. I worked at home doing typing as well as teaching it. My sister worked for a company of medical equipment, which did business with the Army Hospital.

On the night of August 5, 1945 the air-raid alarm was sounded and cleared, which was repeated two or three times. Each time we went upstairs and downstairs, and we all had a restless night feeling tired. My nephew was especially exhausted.

Missing nephew

My sister went to work in Takeya-cho and my younger nephew went to school, complaining about his physical condition. Then the air-raid alarm was sounded but it was cleared soon, so my mother was letting down a bamboo blind in the bathroom. I had just mailed a post card and was sitting in my living room. Just that moment I saw a strange and dreadful flash and heard a roar. My house collapsed and I was caught underneath; the pillars, ceiling, ridge and everything. I lost my consciousness.

In about 30 minutes I regained consciousness and found my head bleeding. I called out, “Mother! ” She could not stand up with her waist badly hit. After a while, my sister returned from her working place. She, too, had a bruise when she fell down from upstairs at her office. In spite of her own pain, she put our mother on her back and three of us left home. We evacuated to the Army Ordnance Supply Depot in Kasumi-cho where we found a lot of injured people accommodated. Later we were taken to the ground of the Ordnance Supply Depot by a soldier and given some treatment. While resting there, black rain began to drop but it did not last very long.

That night we slept on the ground, borrowing some futon, or quilts and a mosquito net from a soldier. We were worried about my nephew but we could do nothing. We just spent overnight there. I felt severe pain on my head and wait, so did my mother and sister.

On August 8, my sister and I went back to our house to look for my nephew, entrusting a soldier about our mother. Our house, we found, had completely been burnt down. So had been the entire neighborhood. We could not tell where we were. We went to his school in Yokogawa only to find that it had also been burnt down. Realizing no hope there, we returned. We continued to search for him day in day out, but we could find neither his body nor his remains. We saw many injured boys of his age crying out for water. We could hardly see them straight. My nephew never came back to us. I can never forget this forever missing nephew.

In and out of the hospital

We could not stay at the Ordnance Supply Depot any longer, so we moved to my niece' s schoolmate' s house in Fuchu-cho, Aki-gun. Three of us lived there, but getting food was a chronicle problem. Before long another nephew, who had been in the Military Academy, as well as my brother-in-law were demobilized. That was a great help. Then, my brother-in-law returned to his former work place, the Chugoku Electric Power Company. He was given a post as the Onomich Branch manager, so moved to Onomichi with his wife and son. My mother and I felt uneasy to continue to stay at my niece' s friend' s house, so we rented an independent corner of my acquaintance' s house in Kaita-cho, Aki-gun. We made a living by teaching knitting.

Before long I was invited to work at the dormitory for NHK workers in Kaita-cho, where I used to work. The former NHK workers got repatriated one after another, and came to live in the dormitory. They reminded me of my uncle, aunt, niece and nephew and I was worried about them so much. I heard that my uncle died at his collapsed school. Tears would not stop. My eldest sister was also trapped under the collapsed house in Kawaya-cho and never seen again. Everything that flashes back makes me only sad.

In 1964, as I had a swollen belly and threw up, I was getting treatment at the Red Cross Hospital and the University Hospital. Then, at the Imanaka Hospital, I was diagnosed as intestinal obstruction. I was immediately hospitalized to have an operation and stayed there for four years. After that I was recuperating at home, but my physical condition reversed again. I went to the A-bomb Hospital, where my problem was found to be a severe case of anemia. After one year of hospitalization, I was released. Since then, however, I was in and out of the hospital many times.

Around the time I entered the Home

When I was in the A-bomb Hospital, the doctor recommended me to enter the A-bomb Nursing Home as it was to open in September, 1970. I decided to do so. I am very thankful that I am alive today, though I am constantly fighting against my illnesses and once told that I was no good any more.

Written by Sumiko Kuramoto (75)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
Inside of my house in Takara-machi, 1.3km from the hypocenter
Acute Symptoms in those days
Diarrhea for two weeks, entire loss of hair, one month treatment for the cut on the head
The death in my family
My nephew, Kaoru who was a junior high school student, during the labor service