Hibakusha

“I will not go there.” Miyoto folded her arms across her chest, pulled them tightly against herself. She turned her back on the doctor and stood gazing out over the hospital gardens. The room was silent save for the distant sound of the ferries shuttling up and down the river.

“We can do no more for you my child” said the doctor. “You have come so far but I can’t help you now.”

“I understand.”

“The Americans. Their hospitals, the equipment… There’s more that they can do…”

“I will not go there.” Miyoko turned and lifted the sleeve on her gown, up to her shoulder. Her arm, from elbow to neck, reaching onto her cheek, was an angry red, skin still raised. “If Japan can not take this from me then I will wear it.”

“And yet they call you…”

“They call me hibakusha” she spat. “Of course they do. They always will. My own people ashamed of us, frightened of us.”

“They project their own shame and fear on to you I fear.”

“I will bear these marks but I will not bear their shame for them” answered Miyoto. “Better to be called hibakusha than the other. What are they being called ?”

“The maidens” said the doctor softly.

“The maidens. Hiroshima maidens” hissed Miyoto. “The women too burned, too ruined to marry and yet somehow supposedly made whole. Made into maidens.” She turned back to the window. “I will never abandon my country the way she has abandoned me and I will never hide what the Americans did to us. How dare they offer to heal what they inflicted ?”

“I see that your mind is made up” conceded the doctor. Miyoto, without turning, nodded her head and listened as his footsteps receded. She waited until she heard the door click behind her before gripping her hands across herself, clutching at her burns. She let the tears run freely down her face.

“They will never touch me” she murmured. “I am Miyoko Matsubara, I am hibakusha, and they will never touch me.”

……

This is the nineteenth story in my series of 42 shorts that I’m writing to raise money and awareness for Mind, the mental health charity. More an excerpt than a full blown story – needs a little more colour but I thought I’d post it as is before I potentially revisit it. Miyoko Matsubara was a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and refused to go to the States for further medical treatment. My portrayal of her here is entirely fictional. If you’re interested in donating to a great cause then please visit my fundraising page. https://www.justgiving.com/42shorts/

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