Memories of nuclear bomb survivors - Part 1 Chapter 3

Going through hell


The sky was covered with pitch black clouds and the brown soot from fires blotted out the sun. It was as dark as night. Barefoot, step by step and at a snail's pace she forced her way through the rubble. She reached the road that ran along the Urakami river which was not far from the factory. There she finally met some people who were also walking but their strange appearance shocked her. All of them were covered with gray dust and they were very badly burned. She could not make out whether they were men or women. Plodding silently and numbly, they tried to get down to the riverbank. It was a pitiful sight, as if a herd of dying animals was searching for water. One of the people finally reached the water’s edge, but before he could take a sip his strength left him. He died just as he was putting his mouth to the water and then his body slid into the river.

She went on and met a neighbor from the Shiroyama‐machi district. She learned from him that she had lost her way and had mistakenly walked in the direction of the bomb’s epicentre.

There were fewer and fewer pedestrians. Half ‐dead men with burns all over their bodies huddled silently here and there. From time to time she could hear faint moans and Chizue realised that all these people were soon going to die. She wondered why there were no rescue troops. She went on sadly and saw dead bodies lying all around her.
Suddenly she heard someone shouting: "They'll come back to shoot us with machine guns. Everyone who can still walk should quickly get under the bridge!" So she hastened to the bridge but when she got there she found the place was already full of people. There was a strange silence all around apart from he burned and badly wounded who now and then pleaded: "Please, water, give me water!". Everyone seemed to be floating between life and death.

A woman grabbed Chizue by her foot and pleaded: "My burns are hot, they are making me insane. Please sprinkle water over me! I beg you for water ... your urine would be good enough. I beg you!" Then she showed a child in her arms to Cizue and said: "Please help my child!" But Chizue could say nothing else other than "I'm sorry, I'm terribly sorry! " and then left the place hurriedly.

The next morning Chizue heard from someone that those people under the brigde had all died and their stacked bodies formed a mountain of corpses. Chizue thought it must be a hair-raising sight, nothing but hell on earth.

In the direction of her house, where she had been living with her father and grandparents, everything was on fire. However, she pressed on intending to get as close as possible to her house. Then she saw a naked baby crying in the middle of a blaze - but its heat was so strong that it was impossible for her to rescue the child. There was nobody to ask to help. "What can I do? What shall I do?” She was as helpless as before and had to leave, covering her ears with her hands.
Over the subsequent years this memory would torment her more and more. She blamed herself and asked repeatedly self why she didn’t jump into the fire and rescue the baby. She carried this grief for a lifetime.