Deaf old man tells his experience with atomic bombing in Hiroshima

Every summer there are meetings in Hiroshima, Nagasaki including Tokyo, Japan that deaf persons tell how they went through the disasters from the atomic bombs and air raids during 1940's.

This story was related by a 79-year-old deaf man, Masakatsu Morioka, from Hiroshima about his own experience.

In 1955 I visited the Atomic Bomb Museum with my deaf friend in Hiroshima City which just opened. I was stunned to see one photograph. It showed an eerie cloud stirred up from the ground. I was shocked and swallowed saliva.

The photo caption says that 'mushroom cloud that had been generated in Hiroshima after the atomic bombing'. I began to wonder. "Was it such a terrible bomb?" It was a moment I learned the word, "Mushroom cloud" for the first time in a decade year after my encounter with the atomic bombing.

Everything exhibited in the Museum was new to me, despite I have experienced the disaster those days. I then felt the deaf people in Hiroshima must have been left out during the "ten blank years" without knowing anything.

When I was a child, I got the measles and became deaf. Therefore I was not accepted to the student mobilization. My home was away 2 kilometers from the ground zero in Hiroshima City. On August 6, 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped down, I stayed home alone and my family have gone out for some errands. I sat down in the veranda, looking outside absent-mindly.

A middle-aged man, who was walking past my house, suddenly stopped and looked up into the sky. He then noticed something unusual and began running at full speed. When I was going to look up into the sky, the flash ran at the moment in the sky.

I came creeping out of my house that was collapsed, I saw the town completely in ruins. I could not understand what has happened. I ran out at once to the monopoly bureau in the office where my loving mother has worked.

All my family were miraculously safe, but I felt very tired due to a sequela of the atomic bombing. I know somehow my poor physical condition was influenced by the atomic bombing that day, but no one told me why so.

Mother was worried about my physical condition and did not tell me anything to frighten me, though she seemed to have heard the cause. At the school for the deaf, I learned the term, "atomic bomb," but what was explained was not easy to understand. After all, it was near the end of the year of 1945 when I knew what was dropped to Hiroshima was a new bomb.

Being a deaf radiation victim. While the social condition settled down gradually and I got rid of confusion, double discrimination waited. Even though I was employed, I said that my physical condition due to the atomic bomb disease was too poor to work overtime, and then I was ignored. "Because I am not only deaf, but also a radiation victim, I will be discriminated more and more." So I stopped telling my own atomic bomb experience.

My deaf friend and I talked each other about the atomic bomb after the visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum. He said that he found himself in a place away by tens of meters when fainting at the moment of the explosion. He remembered the picture of the radiation victim who was blown off by the blast and sticked to the tree, saying "Now I have come to see what there was to be at that time."

It took ten years to realize that I was quite near the death. It also have taken ten years to learn how I was ignorant myself. It made me feel mortifying somehow. I started learning about the atomic bombing through the related documents.

Nowadays I tell the deaf and hearing people about my experience of being a atomic bomb victim who happened to be deaf. I tell them that I have concealed the fact that I was a radiation victim, and that I have never known anything about the atomic bomb for a long time. Because of myself, this is my obligation to make people aware of the deaf radiation victims.

Source: Sankei Shimbun

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