Sunsets are often mother nature's most obnoxious display of talent. The opaque hues of tangerine and fuchsia painted across the sky have caused my neck to hurt from staring up for long periods of time. How could such a sight, such a universal symbol of beauty signifying the closure of a day, cause tears to well in someone's eyes?
For one survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb drop of 1945, the fiery crimson that covers the sky is nothing but a vivid reminder of the pain she had once endured. This piece is going to be about a Hibakusha (Japanese name for an atomic bomb survivor), and how certain sights such as ‘sunsets’ trigger her memory of the day the atomic bomb dropped on her hometown.
Emiko Okada is the teller of this story. She told this story with the help of a translator -
“You can never tell when things like this are bound to happen. It was just like always, where I would wake up, get dressed, and prepare for the day ahead of me. I was in high school at the time. I said bye to my mother, however, my father had already departed for work. I grabbed my younger sisters hand and left for school. As expected, my younger sister being significantly younger than me lingered far behind. I don't exactly remember what I felt or saw when the bomb dropped, however, I can recall straight after. I found myself on the floor, Being flat on the floor facing upwards, the only view I had was of the raven sky and mushroom cloud above. All surrounding infrastructure had fallen, and the ground was covered with bodies and rubble. I was so afraid to inspect my body for injuries, I instead simply ran my fingers across every inch of my body. To my surprise, the only thing my fingertips felt was the erosion of goosebumps. After concluding I wasn't severely injured, I started to walk around. I obviously had no idea as to what occurred, as in a twenty-second time span My entire city had fallen to the ground leaving the blue sky hidden behind, and replaced by a layer or blackness.
I struggled to get on my feet, but once I did I just started to walk. I walked and walked and walked until I couldn't walk anymore. My sister that once lingered behind me was gone, my father who worked somewhere in the city was gone, and I had no idea if my mother was dead or alive. When walking I tried to help people I saw, many lying on the floor with blood spewing out of various body parts, or some with their skin peeling back. All of which were covered in a layer of soot, like me. Guilt overpowers me to this day when I think of all the people I didn't help. I tried to help everyone I could, but I couldn't help those being engulfed by fire or those who had barely an inch of skin left on their body.
Upon walking, I had the time to conclude the new circumstances of my life. Taking in the damage done to my once serene hometown, wondering what phenomenon had just occurred, and the most incomprehensible - the loss of the people my heart to this day still longs for. After pondering by myself upon my broken city and heart, I looked up. The obsidian sky had transcended into a blazing red color, due to fire.
To this day 73 years later, on that odd day once or so a month where a ‘beautiful’ sunset presents itself and my husband and friends admire the natural beauty of it, I softly excuse myself. The display of nature's best work only reminds me of human kinds worst. A tear of two usually rolls down my cheek, as I once again am reminded of the damage caused to my heart and soul on August 6th”.
ALL PICTURES OF HIROSHIMA ARE TAKEN BY INA BICAJ