Nagasaki survivor, Sueko Takada

Uploaded by SGIVideosOnline on 06.07.2011

I went into the house to get my air-raid hood.
When I came back outside, I tripped and fell in the street and started crying.
It was at that moment that the atomic bomb was dropped.
It was so bright. It was incredibly bright.
It was in August, when it's hottest, and the glare of the sun was fierce.
But the light that flashed was far brighter than the sun.
What came next was a big thunderous sound that went "Ka-boom!"
which I could feel reverberate in my chest.
The entire area was blanketed in smoke.
Everything was engulfed in flames
and, in an instant, the entire city was a sea of fire.
I was just a child and I felt my body trembling from fear.
There is a river called Urakami.
It's the biggest river in Nagasaki.
In this river you could see carcasses of horses, cows and people.
They had either been blasted into the river by the bomb,
or they went there in search of water,
but they were all dead and floating in the water.
The bodies were all swollen from being in the river.
It was unbearable to look at.
There were so many carcasses in the river.
On my way to the hypocenter, many dead bodies were lying about along the way.
I had to avoid stepping on bodies as I walked because they were everywhere.
Survivors wore clothing stripped to rags
their flesh dangled from their bodies
and their faces were black with soot.
They were desperate for water.
They approached me, saying,
"Please give me water. Water please. Please help me."
As you walked, you would encounter many such survivors, badly burned, asking for help.
From the end of August I began to feel very weak, and experienced fatigue
that was followed by persistent diarrhea.
Even though I hadn't eaten anything bad
the diarrhea went on and didn't stop.
On top of that, I started bleeding from my gums.
The bleeding wouldn't stop either.
At night, while I slept, my mouth would fill with so much blood
that I would have to wipe away all the blood from inside my mouth.
Shortly before I entered first grade
I started developing strange purplish patches around my body from time to time.
Around the time I started sixth grade, I developed a fever
of about 42°C (107.6°F) that continued for about 2 months.
The high fever caused me to have nightmares.
I dreamed of scenes that I saw the day after the A-bombing
and of people heavily burned, crying out for help.
I used to wake up and try to run away from my bed
in an attempt to escape from my nightmares.
My mother would often call after me saying, "Where are you going?"
I was finally brought to the hospital
where I was told that my white blood cell count had dropped to 1,400.
My condition required immediate hospitalization.
I was told that my symptoms were typical of A-bomb disease.
I was diagnosed as having malignant lymphomas.
I had surgery
but the tumors continued to appear twice a year, every year.
I would spend only 1 or 2 months at home
because I spent the rest of the time in the hospital.
While I was in the hospital, I met people suffering from the same disease as me.
I often met such people in the lavatory at night.
We would say "Good night" and they would return to their rooms around 9 pm.
But around 10 pm, I'd hear them groaning.
They'd cry and moan
as their pain became increasingly
excruciating and then they'd begin screaming out in pain.
Their voices would gradually grow fainter until around 4 am when they finally passed away.
I saw this happen repeatedly
and I was terrified that I might be the next one to go.
The fear of death was so overwhelming that I hated night time.
Every morning, I awoke with a sense of relief that I was still alive.
It went on like this day after day.
Just to think of the encroaching night made me feel as if my flesh were being torn.
I had to endure this feeling of fear.
One day, I thought to myself that it would be better to kill myself
rather than to continue living in fear of death.
I often went up to the rooftop of the hospital
thinking of committing suicide
and more than once I even climbed up onto the fence that encompassed the roof.
When I did this, I would remember all that my parents did for me
and how much they loved me.
That thought would help me to change my mind and I would return to my hospital room.
This happened several times.
When I was around 22 or 23
together with 7 or 8 patients in the hospital
we discussed how we could do something for peace.
We formed a group and named it [Orizuru-kai], which translates to Paper Crane Group.
Folding origami paper cranes is a Japanese tradition
a symbolic gesture of wishing for peace or wellness.
We also proposed to build a statue of a girl holding an origami-style crane
and to have it placed in the Peace Park, which was eventually realized.
We also collected signatures to build a fountain
in honor of the victims who had died crying out for water.
We brought our petition to the prefectural office.
The fountain was eventually built at the time of a National Sports Festival in Nagasaki.
A year after my marriage I became pregnant
but in the 7th month of the pregnancy I had a recurrence of the A-bomb disease.
I was vomiting blood, uncontrollably.
The amount of blood I vomited was enough to fill several bowls.
Despite blood transfusions, blood kept filling my stomach
and I couldn't stop vomiting.
My unborn baby died but I was unable to abort the fetus.
It was then that I asked the local municipal office for a blood donation.
About 60 people offered their blood for me.
The blood transfusion saved my life and I was finally able to abort my child.
Then I had to have a major operation on my esophagus.
Four years later a doctor told me my body was finally ready to have a child.
So I did.
However during my pregnancy, the doctor actually told me
there was no guarantee about the baby's survival.
But I insisted I wanted my baby no matter what it took.
Nuclear arms should never be manufactured.
Once they are made, people will feel compelled to use them.
That is why we should never make them.
There must be no more war.
Otherwise, people will experience the tragedies we went through.
It is inevitable.
They will have to go through the same suffering as we did.
Since I was exposed to the A-bomb
my life has been a living hell.
I don't want anyone else to experience such hell.
I don't want anyone else to become a [hibakusha].
In order that the next generation never has to suffer from war
I want to continue to speak out about my experiences for the sake of peace.