Memoir of the A-bombing
Losing My Parents So Young

 by Fusako Fujii

Atomic bomb dropped just before my 4th birthday

At the time, my family were living in Hakushima-nishi Naka-machi, approximately 1.6 km from the hypocenter. My father was a vice-principal at Hiroshima Prefecture No. 1 Junior High School. I was the youngest of eight children, four boys and four girls, starting with my older brother who was thirteen years older than me, and I was only three years old at the time.

August 6, as told by my late mother
When the atomic bomb dropped, two of my brothers and two of my sisters were in the living room, my second-oldest brother was on the second floor, and my mother and I were on the veranda. There was a sharp flash and in the same instant my mother and I were thrown into the garden. We were buried under the house, which had collapsed and turned into a heap of rubble, and we somehow managed to crawl out. My two older brothers and sisters were in the house, but we could not find my second-oldest brother, who should have been on the second floor. Without any time to search for him, my sister closest in age to me and I were quickly put in the baby carriage before the flames reached us, and all of us fled towards the Sanyo railway line. On the way, my second-oldest brother appeared stumbling towards us along the railway track, with blood gushing from his wounds. He had been thrown towards the railway track from our home. Fleeing the flames, we were making our way to Chojuen along the river banks of the Otagawa River, when black rain started falling hard, and our white clothes were covered in black spots. We spent the night of the 6th on the river bank at Chojuen, in the midst of the shrieking agony of all the people who had fled there, waiting for morning. My mother wanted to drink some water, but everyone said “You must not give water! People who drank water have died, so don’t give any water”. So my brother did not give her any water. We spent the night among people who died one after the other after drinking water. The next morning, my three brothers carried my mother to the North Engineers Corps (North Military Training Ground) just nearby, where she received first-aid treatment. After that we crossed Koheibashi Bridge close by and fled to Ushita, where the fire had not yet reached, and stayed at the home of my brother’s friend on the night of the 7th. On the 8th, an acquaintance of ours from a farmhouse in Hesaka came by cow-cart to help us. We and my mother, who was unable to move, traveled by cow-cart to a rented house in Ushita Minami.

Waiting for father, brother, and sister who had not come home

We put up a notice in the ruins at Hakushima for my eldest brother and sister who had left for student mobilization work on the morning of the 6th, and for my father who had not come home from Hiroshima Prefecture No. 1 Junior High School, located around 800 meters from the hypocenter, to let them know where the rest of the family had evacuated to, and awaited their return. Fortunately, my father, eldest brother and sister saw the sign, and by the 9th they returned to us and all the family was together again. Although my father had no external wounds, he suffered from repeated diarrhea, purple spots, vomiting and fever, and maybe because he was relieved to see his family, despite the treatment he was given he abruptly passed away on August 29th. At the time we could not even give him a funeral. The family members just went to Ushita Park, where my brothers collected wood and we cremated him. I am reminded of this every time I go to Ushita Park, even now. I heard later that my father escaped injury by crawling under a large desk during the teachers’ meeting that was being held at the time, and that he went back and forth to the river numerous times to save the students.

At the time there were message boards everywhere to inform family members of people’s whereabouts (photograph by Mr. Shigeo Hayashi)

My short life with my mother

My mother, who was seriously injured and unable to move, and my eight brothers and sisters and I lived off just the biscuits that we received as rations. After a while we built a shack in the ruins at Hakushima and moved there. We grew whatever we could in the fire-ravaged site sweet potatoes, pumpkin, wheat and more. Even so there was not enough food, and we managed to beat off starvation by eating weeds and seaweed. Of course the stalks of the sweet potatoes that we were growing were a great feast for us. This was the life we were living in 1951, when my mother found work at Sotoku High School and we could afford a slightly better lifestyle. It was then that my mother suddenly started bleeding heavily. She had terminal uterine cancer. Knowing that she would not live much longer, she took us to our father’s family home in Kumamoto Prefecture in the summer vacation period that year for our first and last family holiday. I was so happy to take a trip together with my mother that having to walk up a mountain did not trouble me at all. After that, my mother was hospitalized again at the Red Cross Hospital. I went there every day together with my sister. We did not want to go home, and sometimes my sister and I stayed at the hospital, sleeping at the other end of my mother’s bed. And then on the 29th of December in that year, my mother’s short life full of hardship ended. This was just before New Year of the year that I was a fourth-year student at elementary school.
 Now my brothers and sisters and I had no parents. We were sent to different relatives in Kyushu and Kobe to be looked after, and the family disintegrated.

Aiming for the abolition of nuclear weapons

War leaves emotional scars on a three-year-old child that will never heal. The reason that my older brothers do not want to talk about the atomic bombing even now is probably because their emotional wounds have not yet healed.
 I sincerely hope that the speech in Prague by President Obama gives great momentum to the abolition of nuclear weapons and that we can realize a peaceful world with no war. It is with that hope that I am involved in atomic bomb victim support activities. I believe that this is a way for me to pay respect to the souls of my late father and mother.

Fusako Fujii
Born 1941 in Hakushima-nishi Naka-machi, Hiroshima City. Experienced the atomic bombing in Hakushima-nishi Naka-machi, 1.6km from the hypocenter, just before her 4th birthday. Currently involved in volunteer activities to support atomic bomb victims.

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