“Tomorrow we’re going on a picnic!”, thought the 4-year-old Etsuko in excitement hugging her teddy.
Etsuko was the only child of the Shimizu couple. A beautiful child who was the world of her mom and dad. It was almost time for starting her school education. But her mom wanted her near for an year more to give her all her love all the time.
She would wake up in the mornings and be with her mom while watering the garden. She had even planted a sapling which was bearing leaves. Her first experience of a new life coming into existence on God’s Green Earth. But little did she knew how easily one could be taken away as well.
She was aware of her mom and dad discussing something that day. “Grown-up matters”, she thought and she continued playing with her doll house. She was aware that something she couldn’t understand was going on out there. A child’s curiousness took her doubts to her dad who consoled her saying that it was picnic time in their country and everyone was busy going on picnic in huge planes. That was satisfying enough for her and she was thrilled that they were going on one the very next day.
She saw her mom and dad packing. She retired for the day and fell asleep listening to her dad reciting her a poem…
The next day she woke up early only to find that her mom and dad were already up and walking about. She waited for a while hoping that her mom would go to water the garden. But she did not come to her disappointment. So she decided to water the sapling on her own and went out with the watering kettle into the garden.
She heard a few unusual cries from strange birds. She stroke the new leaf gently watering at its root with care. She sat and looked up at the flying planes wondering where she would be going today. She thought of the new and strange place that would greet her and how she would take care of her sapling if she was to go there. She arrived at the conclusion that mom must have already thought about it. Its a thought all of us have. You don’t get to be mom and dad unless you can fix everything.
It was five minutes past eight. They already had breakfast and she noticed a bit of anxiety on both of their faces. Her mom agreed that she had asked their neighbor to take care of the sapling while they were away.
Etsuko went out to bid good bye to her sapling.
It was past eight thirty…
She bent down, sat on her knees, held the newly sprouted leaf and went close to kiss it.
Suddenly she felt a rumble, something like a quake. It was natural to have slight quake now and then and she was not alarmed. But the thundering sound that accompanied the quake made her freeze.
“Etsuko!!!”, she heard her dad shouting.
She looked back at her home. She saw her dad running towards her. Her mom was behind him. She started to stand up to run towards them. Her body rose and her limbs started to move…
But the flash came.
She saw her dad and mom falling down choking and screaming. She tried to shout but found that no voice came. She fell… And the last thing that she saw was the leaf burning away.
In the memory of all the innocent people who died with dreams just like us on that unfortunate day on which ‘little boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima at 8:45am.
August 6th. Hiroshima day.