I have seen some posts asking if they should talk about "the case" even though they were not involved in it and were not born in Nagasaki or Hiroshima, and I am a bit aware of it, so I have to say what I have to say. I say this because I was born in Nagasaki, am a third generation atomic bomb survivor, and grew up hearing the stories of those who experienced the atomic bombing firsthand. I know it's a little bit too much for me, but I'm going to say this because there are very few survivors left.
In Nagasaki, children grow up hearing stories about the atomic bombing. They were stuffed into sushi for nearly an hour in the gymnasium of an elementary school in the middle of summer, with no air conditioner or fan, and told stories about the atomic bombing. That was a hard time for me. I think it must have been even harder for the old people who told the stories, but there was no way an elementary school kid could imagine such a thing, and I had forgotten most of the stories I had been told for a long time. I have forgotten most of the stories I was told. I can only remember one or two at most. There is one more hard thing. Every year around this time, a row of grotesque images that would drive the PTA crazy in other areas are prominently displayed in the hallways. These days, I hear that the atomic bomb museum has been bleached out and many of the radical and horrifying exhibits that traumatized visitors have been taken down. I don't know if they are still there, but they were there when I was in elementary school.
There was one photo that I just couldn't face when I was in elementary school. It is a picture of Sumiteru Taniguchi. If you search for it, you can find it. It is a shocking picture, but I would like you to take a look at it. I couldn't pass through the hallway where the photo was posted, so I always took the long way around to another floor of the school building to avoid seeing the photo.
Now I'm thinking that my grandfather, who headed into the burnt ruins to look for his sister, couldn't have turned away or taken a different path. There would have been a mountain of people still alive and moaning, not just pictures, and a mountain more who would have given up at the end of their suffering. He walked for miles and miles, towing his handcart through the narrow streets of rubble-strewn Nagasaki in search of his sister. My grandfather was not a child at the time, but of course there were children who did similar things. Not that there wouldn't have been. There were. I heard the story from him, and I still remember it. A young brother and sister found their father's body in the ruins of a fire and they burned it. They didn't have enough wood to burn his body, and when they saw the raw brain that spilled out, they ran away and that was the last time they ever saw him anymore.
I can never forget the story I heard when I was a kid, and even now it is painful and painful, my hands are shaking and I am crying. I keep wondering how the old man who escaped from that father's brain could have been able to unravel the most horrible trauma imaginable and expose it to the public with scars that will never heal.
The reason I can't help but talk about my grandfather and that old man, even if I have to rehash my own trauma, is that this level of suffering is nothing compared to the fact that their words will be forgotten. My hands shaking, my heart palpitating and dizzy, my nose running with tears, it's nothing compared to the tremendous suffering that was once there and will be forgotten.
My grandfather, who went through an unimaginable hell, lived to see his grandchildren born, and met his sister's death in the ruins of the fire. In other words, my grandfather was one of the happiest people in the ruins of the fire. My grandfather and that old man were, after all, just people wading in the depths of hell. I think that the suffering that even people who had experienced unimaginable pain could not imagine was lying like pebbles in Nagasaki 78 years ago, and no one paid any attention to it. Their suffering, which I can't even imagine, is nothing compared to the countless, tremendous suffering they witnessed, which they pretend never happened.
Memories fade inexorably every time people talk about them. The memories that those people could not allow to be forgotten are now largely forgotten; the tremendous suffering of 78 years ago is mostly gone, never to be recounted again. Those who suffered the most from the atomic bombing died rotting in the ruins of the fire, unable to tell anyone about it. Many of those who saw it with their own eyes kept their mouths shut and took it with them to their graves. Most of those who spoke a few words are now under the grave.
Compared to the words of the old men, my own words are so light. I would rather keep my mouth shut than speak in such light words. But still, someone has to take over. I realize that even my words, which are so light, are only the top of the voices that are left in this world to carry on the story of the atomic bombing. I know how it feels to wonder if someone like myself is allowed to speak about this. Still, I hope that you will not shut your mouth. This is the result of our silence.
Sometimes I almost choose to stop imagining the unimaginable suffering and live my life consuming other people's suffering for the fun of it. I am writing this while I still have some imagination of the suffering of the old people whose voices, faces, and even words I can no longer recall.
Translator's note: The original post in Japanese is a response to a post by a Japanese contributor who wondered if he was qualified to speak out on the subject of the A-bomb when he was not from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but still spoke out about Barbie and the A-bomb. I translated it here because I think it deserves to be read by the world.