Adult Group - Fine Work (Japan)
Conveying the Voices of Hibakushas with Six Studs
Nagasaki Prefecture Cai Yun (41years oldˇfemale)
It happened 14 years ago. By then, I had studied in Japan for five years, and worked at the Nagasaki Prefectural School for the Blind for about 18 months.
On an early autumn day, I received a phone call. Picking up the receiver, I heard the voice of a woman who spoke in Chinese, my mother tongue. While I felt glad to converse in a language I’d once been accustomed to, I was surprised by what she had to say. She was a staff member of the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. It appeared that the Memorial Hall, to be opened next year, was engaging in the translation of part of the memoirs of hibakushas in various languages, and further in braille. She requested me to take charge of translation in Chinese, and putting of the Chinese version in braille.
Probably the first time I ever heard of the atomic bomb was when I was in the class in history of my primary school. At that time, I thought of the bomb as roughly the same thing as the end of war. I was too young to think deeply about it. The second time was immediately before I came to Nagasaki. My friends in China were anxious about the possible remaining influence of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki. I answered just evasively, “That’s probably OK.”
My life in Nagasaki began in April 2001. I found that people of various nationalities lived peacefully in the exotic city with churches, Western-style houses and a Chinatown. Compared to other cities, there was nothing special in the streets of Nagasaki with a bustling traffic. It was difficult for me to imagine that an atomic bomb hit the city more than 50 years ago. But I was to know the truths about the atomic bomb two months later.
In June of the year when I began to work at the School for the Blind, I visited the Atomic Bomb Museum with students for their study on peace. Though I couldn’t see the appearance of the streets after atomic bombing shown on photographs and as other images, I felt the misery caused by it through verbal and braille-based explanations, and exhibits I could touch. It was unimaginable that with the flash and the mushroom cloud, the streets had instantaneously fallen into ruins, and heat rays and blasts had taken more than 70,000 precious lives. Further, I was shocked to know that nearly 60 years after the bombing, many hibakushas still suffered from physical and mental aftereffects.
So, when I received that phone call, I readily offered my help. Recalling what I, then a person with little knowledge of the atomic bomb, had felt at the museum, I became eager to communicate realities about the bomb to visually impaired persons in China as far as I could, for probably they also knew little about them.
I thus began translation in braille, finding time in my working life. It was a precious experience for me to translate memoirs read aloud by her simultaneously in Chinese braille, as it allowed me to hear the voices of hibakushas. Each memoirs told me eloquently about the cruelty of atomic bombing, the injustice of war and, above all, the regrets many people must have felt while dying in just a moment. Depictions of the tragic situation immediately after the bombing sometimes moved me to tears. While translating the memoirs, I realized the preciousness of peace that now ensured the calm life of people in Nagasaki. My eagerness grew to correctly communicate, to visually impaired persons in China, the direct voice of each hibakusha who lived on to express their agony, sorrow, hatred for war, love of life, and wish for peace. I always concentrated all my attention on my fingertips lest I put down even a single sentence, a single letter erroneously.
After about three months of work, I completed the Chinese braille version of the memoirs in spring. This meant that my work finished in time before the opening of the Peace Memorial Hall. I visited the hall in July of the same year. There, I found it! The translated memoirs were put in a corner of the reading room. I felt a joy beyond description, thinking that they would convey the voices of hibakushas to visually impaired persons in China.
More than 10 years passed since, during which I lived peacefully. Last year, 70 years after the atomic bombing, I visited the Peace Memorial Hall after a long interval. After offering a silent prayer for people who had died in consequence of the bombing, I went to the reading room. There, I found it again! The memoirs were put in the same place as before. I gently and fondly touched them with my fingers, hoping that the memoirs would continue to reveal the truths about the bombing to visually impaired persons in China, and make them feel the preciousness of peace and life.