The Sorrow of Living in Fukushima

The Sorrow of Living in Fukushima tr. by Chizu Hamada

Making my kids wear a glass badge, a useless almighty protector,
I send them onto a battle field.
I see decontamination trucks in town
There are unknown men in the local convenience store.
I smell dusty soil from them.
Plastic storage bags are piling up here and there,
and I recall there is a school meal center just near by.
Note by translator # A glass badge is a simple personal dosimeter that measures air dose radiation. Children living in the radiation affected areas are strongly encouraged to carry them at all times when they go out and while attending school.

Waking up in the wee hours of the morning often,
I think of the thyroid nodules of my children, are they seeming to be all right?
What if I accept the reality that seems to ridicule my best effort to protect my kids?
I perfectly know the answer, It it is just the matter of time.
Then what should I do?
I betray everyone and just leave?

My mother in my hometown worries about radiation.
My father is intent on staying in Fukushima, being deceived by the government.
The two are most likely being exposed to radiation equally,
while arguing everyday and living in the same moment.
I don’t want them to be irradiated.
Children, adults, elders.
Irradiation. I can’t accept it, there is no way to accept it.

I fight with my parents for where to store the bottled water we bought.
It is 0.5 there and 0.2 here, so I’ll place them here.
No, it does not make a difference!
So we fight.

The level of contamination is more or less the same all around,
but we still compare the radiation levels: here is lower than there.
It makes us feel superior,
but that kind of life troubles me.

Beside the mountains of bags storing radioactive soil,
German journalists are walking in protective suits.
Beside them, I see my children walking toward me with school backpacks on their back.
From my anguish, I become completely speechless””

I got ill with depression (Have I suffered from depression?), the cancer of my heart (my mind?).
Exposure to radiation, divorce.
They destroyed my children’s future.
I was told evacuation was a stupid action.
Thyroid nodules were found in my children.
The truth is so unclear, and I can’t bear that we, adults and society, are so irresponsible.
I got ill with cancer in my mind (Am I suffering cancer in my heart?)
Radiation seems to have contaminated my heart first, the most vulnerable.

What is recuperation? Thyroid nodules? Radioactive Iodine?
What are they all?
Once you step out of Fukushima, very few people know what these words mean.
I now think they are simply fortunate as they are.
Ignorance is bliss.
See no evil, Hear no evil, Say no evil.
That must be bliss.

What vegetables were we harvesting in this season?
Potatoes with the smell of fresh soil.
So many eggplants, rolled over on the floor of the entrance area.
I now see only the weeds covering the garden.
I try to recall what kind of vegetables I used to harvest, but the memory seems far away.

Both my parents and my children are precious to me
One morning my mother of 69 years says,
you should protect your kids.
I want to protect both.
In Fukushima, protecting both at the same time
may be difficult.
So here comes the extreme decision to choose which to pick.
Any parent wishes the happiness of the child, first and foremost.
We are forced to choose either, again and again.

Choose a child or husband?
The sense of value over life became a profound gulf between us.
What I can only say is that I didn’t want to put even one particle of radiation in those of my flesh and blood.
I wanted my beloved children to have an ordinary life just like before the accident
and experience the richness and beauty of Fukushima, just as I did .
The gulf between us was too deep.

There is no other way but to live the life I believe in,
a decision that took me more than three years to make.
I had lived my life, compromising myself, going along with my husband, others, and school activities.
I had compromised myself to go along with Fukushima
I want to live the rest of my life in my truth.
Will it be possible?

There is no place I can go back to.
My loving home is
Someday in the future,
I shall be a part of Fukushima soil
because that is where I go back.