Testimony of Taeko Teramae
Ms. Taeko Teramae was 15 years old when the bomb was dropped. She was in the central telephone office, 0.5 kilometers away from the hypocenter. Many mobilized students were working in the central telephone center that day. Some 7000 mobilized students were killed by the A-bomb in the city of Hiroshima.
TERAMAE: When the bomb fell, I was 15 years old. I was a third grader at the girls' junior high school. I saw something shining in the clear blue sky. I wondered what it was, so I stared at it. As the light grew bigger, the shining thing got bigger as well. And at the moment when I spoke to my friend,there was a flash, far brighter than one used for a camera. It exploded right in front of my eyes. There was a tremendous noise when all the buildings around me collapsed. I also heard people crying for help and for their mothers. I was caught under something which prevented me from moving freely. I was so shocked that I couldn't believe what had happened. I thought maybe I was having some kind of nightmare, but of course, I wasn't. I felt pain when I pinched myself to see if it was real. I thought the bomb had been dropped on the central telephone office. The dust was rising and something sandy and slimy entered my mouth. I couldn't figure out what it was since I couldn't move or see. I couldn't see anything in the dark. A little later, I smelt something like sulfur. It smelt like the volcano, Mt. Aso and I threw up. I heard more voices calling "Mother! Mother!" But when our class teacher, Mr.Wakita, told us to behave like good students and stop crying, all the cries for help and for Mother stopped all of a sudden. We began to calm down and try to behave as Mr. Wakita told us to. I tried very hard to move my arms and my legs and finally I was able to move a little. I was so surprised to see the dark sky with all the red flames through the window because it was only a few minutes before when the sky was blue and clear. It was all quiet and the city was wrapped, enveloped in red flames. Mr. Wakita came to help me. He asked me if I wanted to swim across the river. The bridge was burning and the river was very high. I had no choice. I could barely see by then, though. And Mr. Wakita took my arms and told me to swim across the river together with him, so together we went into the river and began to swim. When we reached the middle of the river, I could no longer see anything and I was starting to feel faint. And as I began to feel faint, I also began to lose control. Mr. Wakita encouraged me and helped me to reach the other side of the river. Finally, we reached the other side. What surprised me so much was that all the cries of the students for help and for their mothers. It just didn't stop. I couldn't see anything. All I could do was listen to their cries. I asked my teacher, I asked him what was going on. Mr. Wakita explained to me how the high school students were burnt and crouching in pain in the streets. I couldn't see anything. There were many students who were mobilized to destroy buildings to widen the streets and the area of Tsurumi Bridge, City Hall and the Chugoku Newspaper on that day. And since they were outside, they were directly exposed to the bomb. Many of them died, many of them died right there. Someone called for help in vain, and some jumped into the river and drown to death. If my teacher, Mr. Wakita had not come to help me, I would have died in the river.
INTERVIEWER: How were your wounds?
TERAMAE: If my wounds had been on my arms or my legs, I would have known it was, but my wounds were on my face, so I had no idea for some time. I just didn't know. I asked my parents how I looked, but they just said that I had only minor wounds. They didn't tell me the truth. After I got better, I found a piece of mirror and looked into it. I was so surprised I found my left eye looked just like a pomegranate, and I also found cuts on my right eye and on my nose and on my lower jaw. It was horrible. I was very shocked to find myself looking like a monster. I even wished I had died with my sisters. I was just overcome with apprehension when I thought about it.
INTERVIEWER: What is your biggest hope or dream now that you want to realize?
TERAMAE: Well, my hope is to have a comprehensive meeting of A-bomb survivors. That's what I want. We had such a meeting the other day and in that meeting, both male and female A-bomb survivors repeatedly said that they wanted their health back again, even for just one day. They said they can't even wear short sleeve shirts because of the scars on their arms left from the bomb. Lonely A-bomb survivors include those who lost their families and also the mobilized students who have remained single because of the wounds caused by the A-bomb. There are great many of them. So, I do hope to do something to support always lonely people.