I come and stand at every door|
These doors,縲those doors, and I knock at them
Don't be scared if you can't see me
Because no one can see me, as I am a dead little girl
I died in Hiroshima on 6th August 1945
In the summer morning, in that Hiroshima
I'm seven now as I was then
As you know, dead children do not grow
My hair caught fire
My eyes burnt out
My body became a handful of ashes
And blown away by the wind
I need no bread, I need no rice
I need no candy
I ask for nothing for myself
Because I was burnt out like a slip of paper
I knock at your doors
All I ask for is the peaceful world
So that the children may live and play
So that the children will never get burnt again
And could taste sweet candy
(Original Lyrics by Nazim Hikmet)
The qualities of strength and sadness stab at the heart through her unique, embellished way of singing. The singer, Chitose Hajime, 31, looked right at me and said, "I'm happy if my song can raise the awareness of people who think the atomic bombings and war are things that are distant from their lives."
The words of the song "The Dead Little Girl" are based on a poem written by a Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet, and then translated into Japanese. The music was composed in 1978. Ms. Hajime became aware of the song about ten years ago when a producer recommended that she sing it. She recalled: "I didn't understand the meaning of the lyrics at the time and so I couldn't connect to the importance of the song." She recorded the song, but didn't release it.
After her debut in 2002, she visited Hiroshima to take part in an event, and she went to Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum. She found it a shocking experience. "At first, I couldn't process everything," she said. "But gradually my mind organized my thoughts and my heart swelled with feelings of regret and grief. The song 'The Dead Little Girl' flashed in my mind. I immediately told my producer, who was with me, that I wanted to sing it."
Once she decided to release the song, she wanted to do her best to move the world and so she asked Ryuichi Sakamoto, the Japanese musician and composer working internationally, to make an arrangement for her. The new version of the song was released in 2005, the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. "If we don't carry on the A-bomb experience, the memory of it will fade and people will forget. I've chosen to live a life in music, so I want to make my contributions through music."
Singing the song sparked a change in her awareness with regard to peace, leading her to reflect on the importance of life. After that, she had the chance to hear Sayuri Yoshinaga, a well-known Japanese actress, recite an A-bomb poem, and she had the opportunity to sing an anti-war song. Then, about six years ago she became a mother, giving birth to a baby girl. As her love and affection for her own child has grown, she has been able to identify more deeply with the mother of the girl in the song. "My connection to the song has gotten stronger and stronger," she said. "Each time I sing it, I think 'The Dead Little Girl' becomes a stronger song."
Ms. Hajime hopes that the children of Hiroshima will be proud of the fact that they have been born, and are growing up, in this city. Children here have the opportunity, she said, not simply to learn about the atomic bombings and peace from a textbook, but to become aware of these things firsthand. As for adults, she hopes they will not take life today for granted, feeling that war and the atomic bombings have nothing to do with their children, and make efforts to hand down the A-bomb experience to them.
"The Dead Little Girl" is made available through the Internet every year within the month of August. "If you can listen to the song whenever you like, it wouldn't have the same impact on people's awareness," she explained. "I hope when people hear the song, they will get the feeling that the season of the atomic bombings has come again." Along with transmitting her recorded song every August, she will continue singing the song in performances as well. (Rie Nii, Staff Writer)