Opening the window and breathing in the morning air, the light of a thousand suns exploded into the room. The sound of air raid sirens registered in her consciousness as she picked broken glass from her hair and clothing.
Walking thru the black rain, she ignored the beseeching multitudes crying out for water. Crying out for a mother. Later she would look back on this with regret. But her only thought was for her daughter.
Old framed photographs long since packed away are retrieved from boxes, dusted off and restored to places of honor. Certificates, mathematics and calligraphy awards, other keepsakes made their way back into her life. “Saikai” she whispered reverently.
Hours later she found her daughter near the river. She held the young woman gently, pieces of Kioko had begun to come off. Mother and daughter spoke in turn, neither replying to the other but rather each politely waiting to pour out more grief and sorrow. Some time during the night Kioko stopped speaking, then stopped breathing. Several days later the mother’s nails and teeth turned black, and fell from her body.
Having outlived friends and family, at ninety five years of age she thought she had also outlived fear. Not so, for the news of the terrible accident at Fukushima frightened her deeply. She drew her window shades down, her terror that the black rain would return so strong that she could not heed the evacuation order.
Kioko came to her in a dream that night. Her voice was the wind, her face was the sun. Her warmth and love enveloped the old woman. Telling her mother they would be together again soon, telling her mother that she could hold her Kioko again soon, hold her Happy Child as tightly as she wanted. Telling her that she loved her.
The old woman ventured outside the next morning, looking up into the sky and smiling as the raindrops fell upon her uncovered hair and face. Sitting on a large rock, she admired the beauty of the snow that crowned the distant mountain, the symmetry of the treeline near its peak. Relishing the quiet and solitude, she whispered “Saikai”.
To meet again.
Written after reading the eyewitness account of Hiroshima by Mrs. Kinue Tomoyasu.