At the end of those air raid shelters was our shelter. I went in, hoping to find my brother, but I couldn’t find him. I got out of the shelter.
Then, little Kyoko called my name.
“Mi-chan, Mi-chan,” the voice of a girl said. I asked, “Who are you?” The voice said, “It’s Kyoko.”
Coming closer, Kyoko said, “Mi-chan, mizu, mizu [water, water].”
But she was in no condition to drink water. Her body was all black. Her hair was all gone, and so were her clothes, with only the rubber waistband of her underpants left on her. Her skin, still stuck to her body, was all black, nothing like burns with blisters. . . . Completely charred black! How agonizing it must have been.
“Mizu, mizu.” Her voice has really lingered in my ears, to this day.
I planted cherry trees in my backyard, the trees this tall. They grew taller, and every summer, cicadas came. “Mizu, mizu, mizu,” I heard cicadas cry. “Give me water, water, water, water.”
And her moans. I heard her painful moans in the sounds of cicadas. So I had all the trees cut down.
This woman hibakusha [atomic bomb survivor] was 12 years old when an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. You can hear her testimony in her own voice at <www.geocities.jp/s20hibaku/4/162_f.html>. Hers is one of 394 testimonies in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Watashitachi wa Wasurenai [Hiroshima, Nagasaki, We Will Never Forget], a 9-disc oral history collection, compiled by Hibakusha no Koe o Kiroku suru Kai, an association dedicated to collecting oral testimonies of hibakusha. You can listen to all the testimonies in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Watashitachi wa Wasurenai online at <www.geocities.jp/s20hibaku/index.html>. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).
Read, also, “I Come and Stand at Every Door” by Nâzim Hikmet Ran.