27. The Misery, Linger in My Mind

My background

I am the second daughter of Sekizo and Tama Sumihiro. After I graduated from Omukai Higher Elementary School, I helped with my family business, farming and producing hand-made Japanese paper. When I was 24, I got married to Shinpei Tokuda. We had a son. In 1938, my husband suddenly died of illness at age 42.

Our son, Katsumi, had entered the Manchurian Railroad but came back to Hiroshima because of his sickness. He died of a heart attack while he was under medical treatment. I moved to Danbara-hinode-cho, and worked as a cook at Hiroshima Army Ordnance Supply Depot since 1939.

Night with uneasiness

It was eight o'clock a.m. when I arrived at my workplace. Our boss gave us some instructions on the day' s work and we were about to get started. Then, I suddenly heard a deafening roaring sound. Our building shook. Simultaneously, window glass shattered by the blast, and by the fragments I had cuts on my right arm, my palm and the back of my head. We were instructed to escape immediately, so we took refuge in an air-raid shelter at the foot of Hijiyama Hill with my coworkers. I saw many people coming one after another, some of whom were burned all over their bodies. Some died where they almost arrived at the air-raid shelter. Their clothes were just like shreds. We spent a night with anxiety in the air-raid shelter, eating nothing. We had no medicine, no bandages and no medical treatment.

From the day after the A-bombing on, we distributed rice balls to the A-bomb sufferers at the Army Ordnance Supply Depot. Together with my colleagues, I worked hard all day long, chopping pickled radishes. Since I had cuts on my right hand, I couldn't make rice balls. At night, for about a week, I went back and slept in the air-raid shelter at the foot of Hijiyama Hill.

The A-bombed horses

I was worried about one of my nieces and visited the Army Branch Hospital in Mitaki, where she was working. I couldn't see her, but was relieved to hear that she was engaged in the relief work, despite the fact that she was slightly injured. On my way beck, I saw an A-bombed horse fallen down, beside which another horse, seemingly blind, was standing still sorrowfully. Those two horses were so impressive that I never forget.
In the scorching heat
A-bombed horses in tears
In grief
(May, 1978)

My workplace, the four warehouse buildings of the Ordnance Depot, became a makeshift hospital. Many sufferers were carried in one after another and laid down just on the wooden floor. They couldn't be given any treatment worth mentioning and died one after another. It was the very hell on earth. The soldiers dug big holes here and there in the back yard of the Depot, piled up dead bodies in them, poured oil and cremated them. The mere thought of the stench and smoke makes me shudder even now. August 12, I could finally return to my house in Danbara-hinode-cho. Fortunately, my house was spared from the fire but the inside was horrible. Glass fragments scattered and the household effects were destroyed. It was very hard for me to clear up the house.

As a cooking woman

Our workplace, the Army Ordnance Supply Depot was closed down. I lost my job as of September 20. I received my retirement allowance in early October. I decided to live at my elder brother's house in Kano-cho, Tsuno-gun, Yamaguchi, which is my birthplace. I disposed of my household goods and furniture and went back to my hometown. However in autumn, 1946, about one year later, I came back to Danbara-hinode-cho, again.

I worked as a cooking woman for ten years at the dormitory of Shudo Junior High School. After that, I had my own okonomi-yaki shop. It is a kind of pancake with various ingredients, mainly cabbage. When my physical condition became unfit to work any more, I couldn' t make a living and so I began to live on welfare. I had much pain in my back and legs. Then I began to suffer from anemia, cardiac infarction and arteriosclerosis, and was hospitalized in the Danbara Hospital in January, 1975 and stayed till April. After I was released, I continued to see the doctor as an outpatient.

Terror of wars

I could enter the A-bomb Nursing Home because I was alone. The terror of the war could never be forgotten. The woeful spectacle, in which you couldn' t tell whether a man or woman, was clearly imprinted in my mind and never fade to this day.

I pray for world peace and for the repose of A-bomb victims' souls. I am very thankful for my being alive today, and for a happy life here in this nursing home.

Written by Tami Tokuda (80)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
In the Kitchen at Hiroshima Army Ordnance Supply Depot, Kasumi-cho, 3km from the hypocenter
Acute symptoms in those days
Diarrhea for about twenty days, loss of appetite, general fatigue, cuts on my right arm and the right side of the back of my head
The dead of my family
None




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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