To Spread Seeds of Peace through the World
- Conveying the A-bomb Experience -
Suzuko Numata

The atomic bombing, three days before my wedding day
When the air-raid warning sounded, I was uneasy. It was early morning. Maybe this would be a real B29 attack. Still, I assumed it would be cleared soon like the others, without incident. We just waited at home. I didn't look at the clock, but later I learned that the warning sounded at 7:09 and was cleared at 7:31. It seemed like at least an hour to me. Our small radio assured us that all of the planes that had been approaching Hiroshima had turned back. Relieved, I picked up my air-raid hood and small first-aid kit, said goodbye to my mother, and left with my father and sister for work at the Communications Bureau, a four-story reinforced concrete building located 1000 meters from what would soon be the hypocenter. My older brother was working at the Hiroshima Savings Bureau, 1,500 meters from the hypocenter. My mother was at home.

When we arrived at the Bureau, my father went up to the fourth floor and my sister to the third. I hurried up to my post on the roof and found no other women there. I thought I was the first person to arrive, but when I glanced at the desks, I saw men's shirts on them. I looked out on the roof. There was not a cloud in the brilliant blue sky. The men, stripped to the waist, were exercising, chatting, or fanning themselves and looking at the sky. I watched them for a while, then decided I should start cleaning the room. When I finally finished cleaning the large room, I went down to the fourth floor for some reason. Usually, I would have used one of the three low water taps on the roof. I would have been bent over scrubbing the cloths, my back and head exposed to the sky. Instead, after taking a look at my colleagues outside, I set off with my bucket for the fourth floor. I was standing in the hall opposite the sink beside the steps when I saw a brilliant, multi-colored flash.

I don't think it could have taken me more than two minutes to get from the roof to the sink on the fourth floor. I was facing the yard, in the direction of the hypocenter. I remember a bright mixture of colors: red, yellow, blue, green, and orange. I didn't know it then, of course, but later learned that I had seen the flash released at the moment the atomic bomb exploded.

Trapped with my left foot severed
I don't know how long it was, but the next thing I remember was being in the dark, trapped under something extremely heavy. Then I lost consciousness again. Although I had been standing in the hallway, I had been blown by the blast into a room. Everything in the room had collapsed, and my left foot had been almost severed from my leg at the ankle. While I was unconscious, a strange-smelling smoke was spreading through the room. I was found by someone who had escaped to the yard outside, noticed this smoke and come back into the building to help. He pulled me out of the rubble, but because my leg was cut, he had to carry me on his back down from the fourth floor. It was all he could do to get us into the open. As he carried me out, the fire was spreading from the fourth to the third to the second floors. Later, my father told me that flames were blowing out of the windows like shimmering red curtains. If my rescue had come even a second later, I would not have survived. I would have remained trapped and would have died screaming in agony crying tears of hatred.

When I was brought into the yard, I could hardly see or hear. Panic reigned, and even the injured ran around in a frenzy. My father was in the crowd, running around half-crazy shouting, "Where is my daughter? I can't find my daughter!" He was shocked to see my severed ankle and begged those around him, who were injured themselves, for help. Someone at last managed to find a tatami mat. I was laid on it and taken to a safer place. Although I lost consciousness several times, when they got the bleeding stopped, I regained consciousness and my life was saved. When my sight and hearing became clearer, I saw figures that hardly appeared human, and the cries and screams they uttered in their death agony-"Water!" "Help!" "Mother!"- were from a living hell.

Someone with a blackened face crouched in pain at my right foot. It was my younger sister, bleeding from the many glass fragments sticking into her head and arms. I knew who she was only because she called me, "Sister!" How long had it been since I saw that beautiful flash? The sky suddenly turned black and big drops of rain began to fall. Later I heard that it was radioactive black rain. The rain soaked everything-the stump of my leg, the burn victims, the dead. Oddly, my left ankle didn't hurt me at all, but after three days without medical treatment, the wound festered up to my knee, endangering my life. On the night of August 9, a doctor who had come with a team from another prefecture examined me with the aid of flashlights and candles. He told us that the only way to save me was to amputate my left leg above the knee. In the dawn of August 10, my leg was amputated at the thigh, without anesthetic. I let out a great scream as the saw cut off my leg, but the amputation saved my life.

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