2011.07.01 update 2011.04 Iwaki-city
After she was pregnant, they came to have lunch together at home.
At early evening a manager of a bar goes for work. His wife, Emi has a relaxing time at home. It has been their life since they were married a year and a half ago. The baby in her belly has grown healthly. It was halcyon days.
They had lunch together and finished to clean up as usual.
Suddenly, a shake occurred. It came to bigger in a moment and hit the room. The cupboard fell with the doors left open. The broken dishes were scattered about on the floor. Meanwhile, the manager was still struggling to take his wedding ring off the shelf. Bigger earthquakes hit them continuously. Emi was crying. She couldn?t stop crying.
"'Go out carrying the valuables." His calm voice changed the mood in the room back to reality. Actually, the manager liked to prepare for an emergency. His favorite book was "survival" written by Takao Saito. Danger is always here. After the earthquake in New Zealand last month, the manager has conducted a drill for simulated earthquake. They also have a special disaster kit as a wedding gift from their friends. "Before anything else, just survive. As long as we are alive, we can get along somehow" The manager took minimum valuables. Then he got out with Emi through the outdoor stairs and they evacuated to a safe place.
When the shakings became weaker, they went back home. Water was cut off, but electricity was still working. There were some food in the fridge. Their apartment didn?t collapse. Neighbors gathered at his home and collected information on TV and internet overnight. They started to scramble to get water and food at supermarkets the next day. The time just flies.
"We put on the outdoor clothes and shoes in the house to be able to go out anytime quickly. We could still live at home, not in an evacuation center. So we were happy even though we have washed the hair in the river. It was the same as the life on a day off."
While they got used to living with water outage, the news about nuclear power plants has become more serious day by day. The unit 1 of nuclear power plant exploded. Unit 3 also exploded. They decided to evacuate on the night of 13th March. On the following night, they moved to Takahagi city in Ibaraki prefecture with Emi.s parents. Then they moved again to their brother.s place, Kawaguchi city in Saitama prefecture because they thought about the risk to the fetus. "I don?t know about the nuclear issue very well. If it.s not clear whether here is safe, we will leave."
However this is an anguished decision for the manager. His father couldn.t leave Iwaki because he required dialysis. Many aftershocks have followed. "I might not see my parents again." He evacuated with such a hard feeling to his parents left.
After moving to his brother?s place, they did housework and cooking. They took a walk outside in a daytime. Emi went for a routine checkup to a hospital of Gynecology in Saitama. They knew their baby was a boy at the hospital. The doctor gave them 3D photos and the DVD of the baby in the
womb to encourage the wife and husband from Fukushima. Sometimes they contacted the friends who also evacuated and got together.
One week after the evacuation, they got good news. Tokyo Governor Ishihara started to accept dialysis patients from the affected areas. Finally, the manager?s parents could evacuate to Tokyo. It reassured him. At around the same time, they also moved to their uncle.s place in Ota-ku, Tokyo from Kawaguchi city, Saitama. They continued to live in the relative.s place.
"We were just walking around."
"We had walked for a few hours everyday both in Saitama and Tokyo."
"Because we had nothing to do."
"Absolutely nothing to do."
"I am self-employed. It meant no one ordered me to go back to Iwaki. When should I return? What should I do? I had no idea."
They could get the information about Iwaki in Tokyo. However, the information conveyed only the state of anxiety.
They got the news about the nuclear plants everyday.
"Nobody is in Iwaki. Economic activities stopped. This is not the condition to live."
We can.t live in Iwaki anymore...such a thought crossed their minds.
"However, everything was enjoyable because we?ve never visited before. Even just walking, we could enjoy it."
"Yeah, I enjoyed. When we found a restaurant, we planed to have lunch there... There were less aftershocks in Tokyo. It.s quite good for our mental health."
"It.s useless to feel rush. We like Iwaki. We like the people in Iwaki. But if we can.t live, there.s no altenative."
"My parents lived in Iwaki and I wanted to have a child in Iwaki. But we can.t say that."
"We can walk freely. Tokyo has its forte."
"We drank cheerfully every night with our relatives. We had no worries."
"We found a cute pudding cocotte. .This is good, isn.t it?. said each other. We looked around many goods for our shop in the future."
"We only imagined the good future."
"We have never lived together such a long time before the earthquake. We were together in the day time. It has never happened before."
"I enjoyed it." said the manager.
"Yeah, I enjoyed it." said Emi.
They prepared themselves gradually for the way to live on their own. Three weeks after the earthquake they decided to return for brief visits to terminate the apartment lease because they got the news that the water supply has been restored.
Most of their friends who are pregnant or have children are still evacuated from Fukushima. They couldn.t dispel the anxiety for the fetus and mother. However, they thought they should take action for the future.
"Anyway, we will terminate the apartment. Let.s do what we can do. If we do nothing, we won.t be able to go ahead. If we can live in Iwaki, we will live at home with the whole family. If the process of the termination of the apartment takes time for a couple of weeks, we will open our bar in the meantime. If it is really difficult to live in Iwaki, we.ll just start our lives in Tokyo."
They drove up north to Iwaki on the highway. What they found was an unexpected sight.
"There are cars on the roads! People live normally!" They felt nothing had changed in the city. It was absolutely different from their expectation.
"When we returned, the people lived their lives as usual. So we were quite relieved." "It.s not good to get used to. But I don.t talk about nuclear power plants in daily life now. When we were watching the news on TV, we didn.t talk about it because we felt somehow bad. We choose only cheerful topics. Our friends will help us if we are in trouble. So we have no worry."
"Well, the situation will change easily. I think it?s the best that we live our lives depending on the situation. It.s the optimism for the moment."
The manager cleaned up the messy bar with his friends and opened it for the first time in weeks.
Their daily life restarted.
"What I want to do has become clear during my stay in Tokyo. It.s a very good experience that I looked around the shops in the same kinds of business. Like the way of thinking and the logistics, the environment around Iwaki has been changed. I felt the people coming to my bar have a fulfilling life than before. Maybe they cherish the working time everyday.
The regulars at the bar have changed. The landscape has changed. Opening hours has been shortened and the bar has also become quite earlier."
The manager looked out of the window with a little smile. Emi put an affectionate look by his side.
"I hope this life can continue forever. I hope we live a normal life. I hope we can open our bar again. I hope my baby will be born safely...then our child will play in the sandbox and go home in the mud. I hope the environment is going to back normal. If it.s impossible, we will go to another place where the child can play. We will provide such an environment. If we have the society that our kid thrives in, it will be good for us. I wish our child lives strongly. I will give a name our child with such meaning."
"I think Japan will become a good country. We try hard to make it. So I hope our baby will come out without fear." The manager smiled energetically.
At the end of July, they will welcome new life into the world.
(Translated by Kumiko Homma)