<Rev. Katsu’s message>
<The 75th Anniversary of the A-Bomb: My father’s Article: Continued from Episode 3>
(Note: The article originally appeared in a Nagasaki newspaper)
Episode 4: “Bakatare!” (Stupid!): the voice that saved his life
“What would have happened to me if that man had not called me, ‘Bakatare! (stupid)’”? asked Rev. Kusunoki to himself as he reflected upon the person who yelled, “Bakatare!” and put his hands together.
The day the atomic bomb was dropped was during summer vacation. Tatsuya was in the first grade at that time. After the air raid siren ended that morning, he climbed out of the underground bomb shelter and ran to the temple courtyard to catch a cicada. He climbed the tree and poked the cicada with a bamboo stick. In the background, he faintly heard the sound of a aircraft bomber, but being a kid, he didn’t pay attention because he was so focused on catching the cicada. It was at that moment, someone shouted in a very loud voice, “Bakatare! Run away!” The voice was like a rumble of thunder. He was thunderstruck; he jumped out of the tree and ran into the temple. It was 11:02 a.m. The A-bomb was dropped. The explosion and the bomb blast hit the temple. Immediately, the roof and the walls crumbled down. In a panic, Tatsuya ran into the bomb shelter. Fortunately, he didn’t have any injuries, but was extremely frightened; so much so that he wet himself and cried aloud. Water was dripping from the dirt ceiling of the underground bunker. Centipedes were crawling on the wall and flies flew in. The bomb shelter was filled with a disgusting stench.
Episode 5: Kougenji Temple becomes a casualty clearing hospital
Tatsuya Kusunoki was all alone in a bomb shelter and crying loudly; he was afraid and alone. After a while, his mother, Yae came into the shelter. She was holding his brother, Isamu who was still a baby. His mother’s face was bloodstained, and his brother’s hair was scorched and frizzy. His father was supposed to have visited a temple member’s house and his two sisters were supposed to have gone to work at an arms factory near ground zero. However, that day, they had changed their schedules due of health problems and other reasons. How relieved he was that all the family members were alive.
The sky above was covered with dark clouds. Though it was clear blue skies earlier, it was now dark and dim outside as if it were night. Looking towards the city, Tatsuya could see blazing fire and smoke coming from downtown Nagasaki near the city hall. At about midnight, onigiri (rice balls) were delivered from the neighboring city of Isahaya. All the family members stayed overnight in the shelter.
The next day, many people with varying degrees of injury were carried into the hondo (main hall). There was no room to stand. The injured people moaned in pain. Tatsuya couldn’t go into the hondo because he was afraid to look at them. His parents attended to the injured and put antiseptic on the wounds in people’s mouths, a common ailment from people with radiation poisoning. However, after a few days, the wounds became full of maggots. Many people suffered from their injuries and died. The bodies were taken to an elementary school near the temple and cremated. By late afternoon, the smoke and odor flowed out and reached the temple.
(To be continued)