The atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima ten years ago. I lived a mile away from the city so nothing much happened to me, though the city and its people were burnt. The bomb didn’t do anything to me — so I thought for ten years.

I love running. A few months ago, while I was practising for a relay event, I felt dizzy. I thought it was only because I was tired. Then a few weeks after that, I fell down in the field and couldn’t get up. The teachers rushed me to the hospital and the doctors found I had leukemia — a sort of blood cancer. This was one of the things that the bomb gave us.

Sadako’s Cranes
Sadako’s Cranes [Illustration by Amarjeet Malik]

I was admitted to hospital. I was scared because I knew every one who had got this disease died. And I didn’t want to die.

One day Chizuko, my best friend, came to see me. She brought some white paper, folded it into a crane and told me a story. She said that the crane was sacred to all Japanese and that it lived for a thousand years. If a sick person folded a thousand paper cranes she would get well. When Chizuko left, I decided to fold a thousand cranes.

The leukemia had left me very weak. On some days I could fold twenty cranes and on other days, I could hardly fold two. I folded a thousand cranes a week ago. And I know I’m not getting any better. I know I will die soon. But I have not stopped folding the cranes. I have started on my second thousand. I am getting slower. I can barely manage a couple a day, but I keep folding them, and will keep making paper cranes till I can’t make them any more.

NOTE: Sadako died in October 1955. She had friends who loved her and admired her brave and hopeful spirit. When she died, her friends formed a club and began to collect money to make a monument of love. The word got around. Students from Japan and other countries sent money and three years after Sadako died, the monument was built. This monument is called the Children’s Peace Monument and is in the Peace Park, right in the middle of Hiroshima, where the bomb was dropped.