Keiji Nakazawa, who lived through the bombing of Hiroshima as a child and wrote the internationally acclaimed Barefoot Gen about his experiences, died Dec. 19 of lung cancer. He was 73.
Nakazawa was 7 years old on Aug. 6, 1945, the day the bomb was dropped. As he recounted in his autobiography, he was walking to school and stopped to answer a question from an adult, when suddenly, in an instant, the whole world changed: “a pale light like the flash of a flashbulb camera, white at the center, engulfed me, a great ball of light with yellow and red mixed at its out edge.”
Mom always had nightmares about it. She said it was unbearable—she could still hear my brother’s cries. Saying “I’ll die with you,” she locked my brother in her arms, but no matter how she pulled, she couldn’t free him. Meanwhile, my brother said, “It’s hot!” and Dad too said, “Do something!” My older sister Eiko, perhaps because she was pinned between beams, said not a thing. At the time, Mom said, she herself was already crazed. She was crying, “I’ll die with you.” Fortunately, a neighbor passing by said to her, “Please stop; it’s no use. No need for you to die with them.” And, taking her by the hand, he got her to flee the spot. When she turned back, the flames were fierce, and she could hear clearly my brother’s cries, “Mother, it’s hot!” It was unbearable. Mom told me this scene, bitterest of the bitter. A cruel way to kill.
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