The Enemy (Vistas) - Class 12 English Explanation, Summary, Difficult Words
By Ruchika Gupta
NCERT Class 12 English Chapter 4 - The Enemy
CBSE NCERT Class 12 English Chapter 4 (Vistas) – The Enemy. detailed explanation of the story along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson, CBSE board questions have also been solved.
By Pearl S. Buck
Before you Read
It is the time of the World War. An American prisoner of war is washed ashore in a dying state and is found at the doorstep of a Japanese doctor. Should he save him as a doctor or hand him over to the Army as a patriot?
The story is set during the Second World War. A Japanese doctor finds an American POW at his doorstep. He is in a dilemma that being a doctor, should he save the wounded man or being a Japanese, should he hand over the enemy to the army.
About the writer -
Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (1892 - 1973)
Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (1892 – 1973) was an American writer and novelist. She had a Chinese name – Sai Zhenzhu as she spent her childhood in China, being the daughter of missionaries. She was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 1932 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in the year 1938.
The Enemy - Lesson and Explanation (with word meanings) -
Dr Sadao Hoki’s house was built on a spot of the Japanese coast where as a little boy he had often played. The low, square stone house was set upon rocks well above a narrow beach that was outlined with bent pines. As a boy Sadao had climbed the pines, supporting himself on his bare feet, as he had seen men do in the South Seas when they climbed for coconuts. His father had taken him often to the islands of those seas, and never had he failed to say to the little brave boy at his side, ‘‘Those islands yonder, they are the steppingstones to the future for Japan.’’
‘‘Where shall we step from them?’’ Sadao had asked seriously.
‘‘Who knows?’’ his father had answered. ‘‘Who can limit our future? It depends on what we make it.’’
Yonder: at some distance in the direction pointed at
The writer introduces the main character of the story –Dr.SadaoHoki. Dr.Sadao’s house was situated on the coast of Japan. He had been living there since his childhood. The house had a low height and was made of stone. It was set upon the rocky beach which had a boundary line made with pine trees that were tilted towards one side. When Dr.Sadao was a child, he would climb up the pine trees. On his visits to the South Seas, He would see men do so in order to get coconuts from the trees. He would accompany his father to the islands of the South Seas often. His father would point towards the islands and would say that those were the stepping stones towards the future of Japan. Dr.Sadao would question him childishly that where would they reach from those islands. His father would reply that it was not known as it depended on the future. The future had no limits. It depended on mankind how it shaped its future.
Sadao had taken this into his mind as he did everything his father said, his father who never joked or played with him but who spent infinite pains upon him who was his only son. Sadao knew that his education was his father’s chief concern. For this reason he had been sent at twenty-two to America to learn all that could be learned of surgery and medicine. He had come back at thirty, and before his father died he had seen Sadao become famous not only as a surgeon but as a scientist. Because he was perfecting a discovery which would render wounds entirely clean, he had not been sent abroad with the troops. Also, he knew, there was some slight danger that the old General might need an operation for a condition for which he was now being treated medically, and for this possibility Sadao was being kept in Japan.
Sadao retained all the things that his father would tell him as a child. His father never played or joked with him. They shared a mature relation and his father underwent a lot of hardships to bring him up. Sadao knew that his father was concerned about his education. He was sent to America at the age of twenty – two to study surgery and medicine. He returned at the age of thirty. Before dying Sadao’s father saw Sadao become famous not only as a surgeon but also as a scientist. Sadao was on his way to discover a treatment for wounds which would make them absolutely clean. So, he was not sent abroad with the armed forces as a doctor. Also, he was retained in Japan because the old General was suffering from an ailment which needed to be operated upon in case of an emergency.
Clouds were rising from the ocean now. The unexpected warmth of the past few days had at night drawn heavy fog from the cold waves. Sadao watched mists hide outlines of a little island near the shore and then come creeping up the beach below the house, wreathing around the pines. In a few minutes fog would be wrapped about the house too. Then he would go into the room where Hana, his wife, would be waiting for him with the two children.
The writer describes the scene outside Dr.Sadao’s house. As the days were unusually warm and the sea waves were cold, the nights becamefoggy. Dr.Sadao saw the boundary of a nearby island became invisible gradually, as it got covered in the mist. Slowly, the mist was coming closer to him. Soon there would be mist all around his house. At that time, he would go back into the house, to his wife, Hana who was waiting for him along with their two children.
But at this moment the door opened and she looked out, a dark-blue woollen haori over her kimono. She cameto him affectionately and put her arm through his as he stood, smiled and said nothing. He had met Hana in America, but he had waited to fall in love with her until he was sure she was Japanese. His father would never havereceived her unless she had been pure in her race. He wondered often whom he would have married if he had not met Hana, and by what luck he had found her in the most casual way, by chance literally, at an American professor’s house. The professor and his wife had been kind people anxious to do something for their few foreign students, and the students, though bored, had accepted this kindness. Sadao had often told Hana how nearly he had not gone to Professor Harley’s house that night — the rooms were so small, the food so bad, the professor’s wife so voluble. But he had gone and there he had found Hana, anew student, and had felt he would love her if it were at all possible.
haori: a loose outer garment worn over the kimono.
Kimono: a traditional Japanese garment.
Before Sadao could go inside, the door opened and his wife looked out for him. She was wearing a dark – blue colured gown over her dress. She lovingly crossed her arm with his, smiled at him, remained silent and stood by him. They had met in America. Sadao knew that his father would marry him to a Japanese girl only and so, he ensured this before falling in love with her. Sadao considered himself to be lucky to have accidentally met her at aa American Professor’s house. He wondered that had he not met her, he would not have got a wife all his life. He thought that the professor and his wife were kind as they were keen to help foreign students. He was glad that they had accepted this kindness and went to their house because it was there that he had met Hana. Sadao would often tell Hana that it was a mere coincidence that he went to the professor’s house that night as the rooms in his house were small, the food was not good and the professor’s wife was very talkative. If he had not gone there that night, he would not have met Hana. At that time, Hana was a new student. Sadao had thought that he would love her if at all it would be possible for him.
Now he felt her hand on his arm and was aware of the pleasure it gave him, even though they had been married years enough to have the two children. For they had not married heedlessly in America. They had finished their work at school and had come home to Japan, and when his father had seen her the marriage had been arranged in the old Japanese way, although Sadao and Hana had talked everything over beforehand. They were perfectly happy. She laid her cheek against his arm.
Sadao and Hana loved each other even after having two children – after many years of marriage. They had not married in a haste in America rather they returned to Japan, sought permission from their parents and then got married in a traditional Japanese ceremony. They had discussed all the details before the wedding. They were happy with each other. Hana rested her cheek against Sadao’s arm with affection.
It was at this moment that both of them saw something black come out of the mists. It was a man. He was flung up out of the ocean — flung, it seemed, to his feet by a breaker. He staggered a few steps, his body outlined against the mist, his arms above his head. Then the curled mists hid him again.
Staggered: walk unsteadily as if about to fall
That moment they saw a figure appear out of the mist. It appeared black in colour due to the mist in the air. The outline of a man’s body was visible in the mist. He walked unsteadily with his arms above the head. It was an indication that he was a prisoner. The man walked a few steps and then disappeared in the mist.
‘‘Who is that?’’ Hana cried. She dropped Sadao’s arm and they both leaned over the railing of the veranda. Now they saw him again. The man was on his hands and knees crawling. Then they saw him fall on his face and lie there.
Leaned: bent forward
Upon seeing the figure, Hana reacted by asking that who was that. She took her arm out of Sadao’s arm and both of them bent forward over the railing of the veranda to have a closer look at the man. They saw him again. He was crawling on his hands and knees. Then he fell on his face and kept on lying there. Probably he had fainted.
‘‘A fisherman perhaps,’’ Sadao said, ‘‘washed from his boat.’’ He ran quickly down the steps and behind him Hana came, her wide sleeves flying. A mile or two away on either side there were fishing villages, but here was only the bare and lonely coast, dangerous with rocks. The surf beyond the beach was spiked with rocks. Somehow the man had managed to come through them — he must be badly torn.
Spiked: covered with sharp points
As the area had villages full of fishermen, Sadao said that probably it was a fisherman who had been washed off his boat. He ran to help him, Hana followed him. The loose sleeves of her haori flew as she ran. This part of the coast was not inhabited as it had dangerous rocks on it. As the rocks were pointed, the man could be badly injured although he had managed to come through them.
They saw when they came toward him that indeed it was so. The sand on one side of him had already a stain of red soaking through.
a stain of red: blood stain
As the Japanese couple saw the man, they realized that he was badly injured. The sand on which he lay had blood stains on one side which indicated that he was wounded.
‘‘He is wounded,’’ Sadao exclaimed. He made haste to the man, who lay motionless, his face in the sand. An old cap stuck to his head soaked with sea water. He was in wet rags of garments. Sadao stopped, Hana at his side, and turned the man’s head. They saw the face.
“A white man!” Hana whispered.
Sadao said that the man was wounded. He approached the man who lay motionless with his face buried in the sand. An old cap hung on his head. It was soaked with the sea water. His dress was also wet and torn. Sadao turned the man’s head. As they saw the face, Hana spoke confidentially that he was a white i.e. an American.
Yes, it was a white man. The wet cap fell away and there was his wet yellow hair, long, as though for many weeks it had not been cut, and upon his young and tortured face was a rough yellow beard. He was unconscious and knew nothing that they did for him.
The injured man was an American. As his cap fell off, they saw his wet, yellow – coloured hair which had not been cut for a long time. He was young, his face had such marks which indicated that he had been tortured. He had a rough, unkept yellow – coloured beard. As he had fainted, he did not know of the presence of Sadao and Hana.
Now Sadao remembered the wound, and with his expert fingers he began to search for it. Blood flowed freshly at his touch. On the right side of his lower back Sadao saw that a gun wound had been reopened. The flesh was blackened with powder. Sometime, not many days ago, the man had been shot and had not been tended. It was bad chance that the rockhad struck the wound.
Tended: cared for, looked after
Sadao was reminded that the man was wounded as he had seen blood stains on the sand. As he was a doctor, he moved his trained fingers around the man’s back to search for the wound. He felt blood oozing out of a wound in the lower part of his back. It was a gun shot. The man had been injured a few days ago. He had not got any medical help to treat the wound as he had himself used some black – coloured powdery substance on it. The sharp rocks on the shore had pierced it and so, it was bleeding.
‘‘Oh, how he is bleeding!’’ Hana whispered again in a solemn voice. The mists screened them now completely, and at this time of day no one came by. The fishermen had gone home and even the chance beachcombers would have considered the day at an end.
Solemn: serious and concerned
Beachcomber: a vagrant who makes a living by searching beaches for articles of value and selling them
Hana was concerned that the man was injured and said in a low voice that he was bleeding. The mist had intensified now. The three of them could not be spotted by anyone. Moreover, the fishermen and the ragpickers did not visit the place at that time of the day.
‘‘What shall we do with this man?’’ Sadao muttered. But his trained hands seemed of their own will to be doing what they could to stanch the fearful bleeding. He packed the wound with the sea moss that strewed the beach. The man moaned with pain in his stupor but he did not awaken.
Muttered: speak in a low voice
Stanch: stop or restrict (a flow of blood) from a wound.
Sea moss: a kind of seaweed
Strewed: to be scattered untidily over a place or area
Moaned: a low cry in pain
Stupor: a state of unconsciousness
‘‘The best thing that we could do would be to put him back in the sea,’’ Sadao said, answering himself.
Now that the bleeding was stopped for the moment he stood up and dusted the sand from his hands.
‘‘Yes, undoubtedly that would be best,’’ Hana said steadily. But she continued to stare down at the motionless man.
‘‘If we sheltered a white man in our house we should be arrested and if we turned him over as a prisoner, he would certainly die,’’ Sadao said.
‘‘The kindest thing would be to put him back into the sea,’’ Hana said. But neither of them moved. They were staring with a curious repulsion upon the inert figure.
Repulsion: a strong dislike
Sadao answered to himself and said that the best thing was to put the man back into the sea. As the bleeding stopped, he stood up and removed the dust from his hands. Hana supported his opinion but looked intently at the man as he lay still. Sadao said that if they gave him shelter, they would be arrested for sheltering an enemy. If they handed him over to the Japanese army as a prisoner, then he would die in the prison. As he thought that both the options were not favourable, so the best option was to put him back into the sea. Hana added that the kindest act for them was to put him back into the sea. Both of them did not move ahead to do so, rather they stared at the motionless figure with dislike. They disliked him because he was an enemy – an American.
‘‘What is he?’’ Hana whispered.
‘‘There is something about him that looks American,’’Sadao said. He took up the battered cap. Yes, there, almost gone, was the faint lettering. ‘‘A sailor,’’ he said, ‘‘from an American warship.’’ He spelled it out: ‘‘U.S. Navy.’’ The man was a prisoner of war!
Battered: torn and worn out
Hana was inquisitive as she asked about the man’s identity. Sadao replied that he appeared to be an American. He picked up the torn cap and read the words written on it which were slightly visible. He said that the man was a sailor from an American warship and read out the words – “U.S. Navy” written on the cap. They concluded that the man had been taken into captivity during the war.
‘‘He has escaped.’’ Hana cried softly, ‘‘and that is why he is wounded.’’
‘‘In the back,’’ Sadao agreed.
Sadao and Hana discussed that the man had tried to escape from the prison and had been shot in the back.
They hesitated, looking at each other. Then Hana said with resolution:
“Come, are we able to put him back into the sea?”
They were not able to gather the courage to throw him into the sea. Hana called upon Sadao with firmness. She asked him if he was ready to put him into the sea.
“If I am able, are you?” Sadao asked.
“No,” Hana said, “But if you can do it alone...”
Sadao told her that he was able to do so and asked that did Hana have the courage for it. Hana replied in the negative and added that if he could not do it by himself, then she had to help him.
Sadao hesitated again. “The strange thing is,” he said, “that if the man were whole I could turn him over to the police without difficulty. I care nothing for him. He is my enemy. All Americans are my enemy. And he is only a common fellow. You see how foolish his face is. But since he is wounded…”
Sadao was reluctant in throwing the man into the sea. He reasoned that if the man was well, he would hand him over to the police without any hesitation. He added that he was not concerned about the man and considered him to be an enemy as he was an American. He commented that the injured man was a common man as his face looked as if he was a foolish person. He wanted to say that he was not bothered about the injured man but his only concern was that he was wounded.
“You also cannot throw him back to the sea,” Hana said. “Then there is only one thing to do. We must carry him into the house.”
Hana said that if he could not throw him into the sea, then the second option was to carry him home.
“But the servants?” Sadao inquired.
Sadao was concerned that the servants would object as they would shelter an enemy.
“We must simply tell them that we intend to give him to the police — as indeed we must, Sadao. We must think of the children and your position. It would endanger all of us if we did not give this man over as a prisoner of war.” “Certainly,” Sadao agreed. “I would not think of doing anything else.”
Hana said that they would tell them that they intended to hand him over to the police once he recovered. She told him that they must do that. She added that they must consider their children’s future and Sadao’s position. If they did not hand over a prisoner of war to the police, they would be in danger. Sadao replied that certainly he would do so and he did not think of doing anything else.
Thus agreed, together they lifted the man. He was very light, like a fowl that had been half-starved for a long time until it is only feathers and skeleton. So, his arms hanging, they carried him up the steps and into the side door of the house. This door opened into a passage, and down the passage they carried the man towards an empty bedroom.
Fowl: cock, hen
Sadao and Hana lifted the injured man into the house. He was very light. The writer compares his weight to that of a hen that has not been fed for a long time and its body loses flesh and reduces into mere feathers and skeleton. The man’s arms were hanging and the duo carried him up the steps into the side door of the house. The door opened into a passage and they went down the passage towards an empty bedroom.
It had been the bedroom of Sadao’s father, and since his death it had not been used. They laid the man on the deeply matted floor. Everything here had been Japanese to please the old man, who would never in his own home sit on a chair or sleep in a foreign bed. Hana went to the wall cupboards and slid back a door and took out a soft quilt. She hesitated. The quilt was covered with flowered silk and the lining was pure white silk.
The bedroom belonged to Sadao’s father and had not been used after his death. The injured man was laid on the thick mat on the floor. The writer describes the room – everything in the room was Japanese as Sadao’s father disliked foreign things. Hana went to the cupboard in the wall and took a soft quilt. She resisted putting it on the injured man. The quilt was made of silk, had a flowery print on it and the lining was made of pure white silk.
“He is so dirty,” she murmured in distress.
“Yes, he had better be washed,” Sadao agreed. “If you will fetch hot water I will wash him.”
She was sad and spoke slowly that the man was very dirty. Sadao said that the man had to be washed. Sadao asked Hana to get hot water so that he could wash the man.
“I cannot bear for you to touch him,” she said. “We shall have to tell the servants he is here. I will tell Yumi now. She can leave the children for a few minutes and she can wash him.”
Hana did not want that Sadao should touch the man. She said that they would ask the servant to wash the injured man. She would call Yumi to leave attending the children for a few minutes and wash him.
Sadao considered a moment. “Let it be so,” he agreed. “You tell Yumi and I will tell the others.” But the utter pallor of the man’s unconscious face moved him first to stoop and feel his pulse. It was faint but it was there. He put his hand against the man’s cold breast. The heart too was yet alive.
Pallor: an unhealthy pale appearance
Stoop: bend forward
Sadao thought for a moment and then agreed with Hana. He asked her to call Yumi while he would call the other servants. Before he could go out, he saw the injured man’s face. It was so pale that he stopped, bent forward and felt his heartbeat to see if he was alive. The heartbeat was very faint but it was there. Then Sadao placed his hand on the man’s heart to feel it. It was also beating. Sadao concluded thus, that the injured man was alive.
“He will die unless he is operated on,” Sadao said, considering. “The question is whether he will not die any way.”
Sadao commented that if the man was not operated upon, he would die. He added that even if he was operated upon and saved, he would die at the hands of the Japanese army. So, either ways he would die.
Hana cried out in fear. “Don’t try to save him! What if he should live?”
Hana screamed with fear and asked Sadao not to save the man… she feared that if he lived, they would be in danger.
“What if he should die?” Sadao replied. He stood gazing down on the motionless man. This man must have extraordinary vitality or he would have been dead by now.
But then he was very young — perhaps not yet twenty five.
“You mean die from the operation?”
“Yes,” Sadao said.
Vitality: energy, life
Sadao questioned that what would be the implications if the man died. He looked down towards the injured man and wondered that he had a lot of energy which had kept him alive through such torture. He countered his thought with the fact that the man was very young – he seemed to be twenty five years of age and at that age, people do have a lot of energy. Hana asked him that did he mean the man could die during the operation. Sadao confirmed her question.
Hana considered this doubtfully, and when she did not answer Sadao turned away. “At any rate something must be done with him,” he said, “and first he must be washed.” He went quickly out of the room and Hana came behind him. She did not wish to be left alone with the white man. He was the first she had seen since she left America and now he seemed to have nothing to do with those whom she had known there. Here he was her enemy, a menace, living or dead.
Menace: danger, threat
Hana was pondering over this possibility and as she was taking time to reply, Sadao left. He said that something had to be done with the injured man irrespective of the result. The first thing was to wash him. As he walked out of the room, Hana followed him. She did not want to remain in the room, alone with the white skinned man. Since she had left America, he was the first white man she had seen. She had no contact with the Americans whom she had met as they were her enemies. This injured man was also an enemy and was a threat to them.
She turned to the nursery and called, “Yumi!”
But the children heard her voice and she had to go in for a moment and smile at them and play with the baby boy, now nearly three months old.
Over the baby’s soft black hair she motioned with her mouth, “Yumi — come with me!”
Nursery: a room in a house for the special use of young children.
Hana turned to the children’s room and called out to Yumi. As the children heard her voice, she went inside, smiled at them and played with her three – month old son. As she held the baby who had soft black hair, she motioned with her mouth to Yumi asking her to come.
“I will put the baby to bed,” Yumi replied. “He is ready.”
She went with Yumi into the bedroom next to the nursery and stood with the boy in her arms while Yumi spread the sleeping quilts on the floor and laid the baby between them.
Yumi replied that the baby was ready for sleep and that she must put it to sleep before accompanying her. Hana held the baby and went to the bedroom next to the nursery with Yumi. Yumi spread the sleeping quilts on the floor and laid the baby between them.
Then Hana led the way quickly and softly to the kitchen. The two servants were frightened at what their master had just told them. The old gardener, who was also a house servant, pulled the few hairs on his upper lip.
Hana led the way as they walked fast towards the kitchen. The two servants in the kitchen were scared after hearing their master’s words regarding the injured man. The old gardener who also worked as a servant was pondering over the news and pulling the hair from his upper lip.
“The master ought not to heal the wound of this white man,” he said bluntly to Hana. “The white man ought to die. First he was shot. Then the sea caught him and wounded him with her rocks. If the master heals what the gun did and what the sea did they will take revenge on us.”
Bluntly: in a straight – forward manner
The old gardener spoke bluntly to Hana. He said that Sadao must not treat the injured white man. He reasoned that the man was destined to die. Firstly, he had been wounded by a gun shot and secondly, the rocks of the sea wounded him further. If Sadao healed the wounds given by the gun and the sea, then the gun and the sea would treat them as enemies and seek revenge. The gun represents the Japanese army and the sea represents the country of Japan. If they treated the enemy, they would be punished by Japan.
“I will tell him what you say,” Hana replied courteously. But she herself was also frightened, although she was not superstitious as the old man was. Could it ever be well to help an enemy? Nevertheless she told Yumi to fetch the hot water and bring it to the room where the white man was.
Superstitious: irrational beliefs
Hana politely said to the gardener that she would pass his message to Sadao. She was frightened though not superstitious like the old man. She thought that helping an enemy could never be good for them. Still, she asked Yumi to get hot water into the room where the injured man was kept.
She went ahead and slid back the partitions. Sadao was not yet there. Yumi, following, put down her wooden bucket. Then she went over to the white man. When she saw him her thick lips folded themselves into stubbornness. “I have never washed a white man,” she said, “and I will not wash so dirty a one now.”
Stubbornness: firm determination
Hana went inside first and moved the partition to one side. Sadao was not there. Yumi followed her and kept the wooden bucket on the floor. As she saw the white man, her thick lips folded and the expressions on her face indicated her determination. She said firmly that she had never washed an American man and that she would never wash one who was as dirty as that injured man.
Hana cried at her severely. “You will do what your master commands you!”
Hana reacted to Yumi’s refusal. She screamed at her that she was supposed to follow her master’s orders.
There was so fierce a look of resistance upon Yumi’s round dull face that Hana felt unreasonably afraid. After all, if the servants should report something that was not as it happened?
Resistance: the refusal to accept or comply with something
Yumi resisted strongly. Her dull face had a dangerous look of protest which scared Hana. She was worried that if the servants reported something different from what had happened, they could land into trouble.
“Very well,” she said with dignity. “You understand we only want to bring him to his senses so that we can turn him over as a prisoner?”
Hana changed her expressions to respect and said, “very well”. She explained to Yumi that they intended to bring the unconscious man into his senses and then, they would hand him over as a prisoner.
“I will have nothing to do with it,” Yumi said, “I am a poor person and it is not my business.”
Yumi said that she was not concerned about their plans. She added that she was a poor person and it was none of her business to know about their plans.
“Then please,” Hana said gently, “return to your own work.”
At once Yumi left the room. But this left Hana with the white man alone. She might have been too afraid to stay had not her anger at Yumi’s stubbornness now sustained her.
Hana said to Yumi that then she should return to her work. Yumi left the room at once. Hana was again left alone with the white man. She would have been afraid to remain there all alone but her anger on Yumi’s firm determination made her stay in the room.
“Stupid Yumi,” she muttered fiercely. “Is this anything but a man? And a wounded helpless man!”
Hana said with anger that Yumi was a stupid person. She said that it was just an injured man.
In the conviction of her own superiority she bent impulsively and untied the knotted rugs that kept the white man covered. When she had his breast bare she dipped the small clean towel that Yumi had brought into the steaming hot water and washed his face carefully. The man’s skin, though rough with exposure, was of a fine texture and must have been very blond when he was a child.
Conviction: firm belief
impulsively: to do something suddenly without thinking
rugs: blanket blond: of light colour
Hana was so full of anger at the refusal by the maid, Yumi that without thinking, she opened the blanket in which the man was injured. His chest was bare. Hana took a small clean towel, dipped it in the steaming hot water and washed his face. The man’s skin was rough due to being exposed to the sun, but it had a good texture and he must have been very fair as a child.
While she was thinking these thoughts, though not really liking the man better now that he was no longer a child, she kept on washing him until his upper body was quite clean. But she dared not turn him over. Where was Sadao? Now her anger was ebbing, and she was anxious again and she rose, wiping her hands on the wrong towel. Then lest the man be chilled, she put the quilt over him.
Ebbing: decreasing gradually
Rose: stood up
Chilled: freeze due to cold weather
Hana kept on cleaning the man’s upper body as she had these thoughts. She did not like the man as he was not a child anymore. She did not have the courage to turn him over and thought of Sadao. Hr anger was decreasing and she started becoming restless. She stood up and wiped her hands with the wrong towel. As she did not want the man to freeze due to the cold weather, she put the quilt on him.
“Sadao!” she called softly.
He had been about to come in when she called. His hand had been on the door and now he opened it. She sawt hat he had brought his surgeon’s emergency bag and that he wore his surgeon’s coat.
Hana called out to Sadao softly.
He had been on the door when she called him. He opened the door. Hana saw that Sadao was carrying his surgeon’s emergency bag and was wearing his surgeon’s coat. He was prepared to operate upon the injured man.
“You have decided to operate!” she cried.
“Yes,” he said shortly. He turned his back to her and unfolded a sterilized towel upon the floor of the tokonoma alcove and put his instruments out upon it.
Tokonoma alcove: The word 'toko' literally means "floor" or "bed"; 'ma' means "space" or "room." In English, tokonoma is usually called alcove. It is a part of a room where things are displayed.a niche or an alcove in a Japanese home for displaying a flower arrangement, kakemono, or other piece of art.
Hana asked Sadao that had he decided to operate the man.
Sadao replied that he had decided to operate him. He turned his back to Hana as he did not want her to object to his decision. Sadao started his work. He opened a sterilized towel on the floor of the tokonoma alcove and placed his surgical instruments on it.
“Fetch towels,” he said.
Sadao asked Hana to get some towels.
She went obediently, but how anxious now, to the linen shelves and took out the towels. There ought also to be old pieces of matting so that the blood would not ruin the fine floor covering. She went out to the back veranda where the gardener kept strips of matting with which to protect delicate shrubs on cold nights and took an armful of them.
Hana obeyed Sadao and went out to get the towels. She was curious as Sadao was operating upon the injured man. She thought that the blood from his wounds could stain the fine mats which covered the floor of the room. So, she got some rough mats from the backyard which were used by the gardener to cover the delicate shrubs from the cold weather.
But when she went back into the room, she saw this was useless. The blood had already soaked through the packing in the man’s wound and had ruined the mat under him.
By the time Hana reached the room she saw that blood had flowed through the bandage on the man’s wound and had stained the mat beneath him. Her effort was futile.
“Oh, the mat!” she cried.
“Yes, it is ruined,” Sadao replied, as though he did not care. “Help me to turn him,” he commanded her.
She obeyed him without a word, and he began to wash the man’s back carefully.
On seeing the stained mat, Hana cried that the mat had been spoiled. Sadao agreed that the mat had been ruined in such a manner which indicated that he was not bothered by it. Sadao ordered Hana to help him turn the man over. She obeyed him and then Sadao started washing his back.
“Yumi would not wash him,” she said.
“Did you wash him then?” Sadao asked, not stopping for a moment his swift concise movements.
“Yes,” she said.
He did not seem to hear her. But she was used to his absorption when he was at work. She wondered for a moment if it mattered to him what was the body upon which he worked so long as it was for the work he did so excellently.
Hana told Sadao that Yumi had refused to wash the injured man. Sadao asked her that did she wash him. He did not stop cleaning him. He made fast small movements of his hands as he cleaned him carefully. Sadao was engrossed in work and did not seem to hear Hana. Hana wondered that Sadao was not bothered who the injured man was. He was only concerned in performing his work well.
“You will have to give the anesthetic if he needs it,” he said.
“I?” she repeated blankly. “But never have I!”
“It is easy enough,” he said impatiently.
He was taking out the packing now, and the blood began to flow more quickly. He peered into the wound with the bright surgeon’s light fastened on his forehead. “The bullet is still there,” he said with cool interest. “Now I wonder how deep this rock wound is. If it is not too deep it maybe that I can get the bullet. But the bleeding is not superficial. He has lost much blood.”
Anesthetic: a substance that induces insensitivity to pain
Superficial: existing or occurring at or on the surface.
Sadao told Hana that she would have to inject the injured man with a substance that induces insensitivity to pain. Hana replied that she had never done that earlier. Sadao said in a haste that it was very easy. Sadao was removing the packing and now the blood started flowing faster. He looked at the wound with the help of the bright surgeon’s light fixed on his forehead. He announced that the bullet was inside the man’s body. He wondered that how deep the wound made by the rock was. He said that if the wound was not very deep, then he could get the bullet out. He added that the bleeding was not from the surface of the skin which meant that the wound was deep and the man had already lost a lot of blood.
At this moment Hana choked. He looked up and saw her face the colour of sulphur.
her face the colour of sulphur: sulphur is a yellow coloured element. The clause means that her face became pale – yellowish in colour.
When Hana saw Sadao inspecting the wound, she could not see the sight and so, she coughed. Sadao looked at her and saw that her face was yellowish in colour like the colour of sulphur.
“Don’t faint,” he said sharply. He did not put down his exploring instrument. “If I stop now the man will surely die.” She clapped her hands to her mouth and leaped up and ran out of the room. Outside in the garden he heard her retching. But he went on with his work.
Sadao reacted and ordered Hana not to faint. He did not stop his work and continued inspecting the wound. Sadao said that if he stopped, the injured man would certainly die. Hana put both her hands on her mouth, jumped up and ran out of the room. Sadao heard her vomiting in the garden but he continued with his work.
“It will be better for her to empty her stomach,” he thought. He had forgotten that of course she had never seen an operation. But her distress and his inability to go to her at once made him impatient and irritable with this man who lay like dead under his knife.
As Sadao needed Hana’s help to operate the man, he thought that it would be better for her to empty her stomach so that she would not feel uneasy time and again. He was reminded that Hana was seeing an operation for the first time and it was not a pleasant thing to see. Sadao was irritated and impatient as his wife was under stress and he was not able to help her due to the man who lay under his knife. He was just like a dead person.
“This man.” he thought, “there is no reason under heaven why he should live.”
Sadao thought that there was no reason for him to make efforts to save the man because there was no reason for him to live.
Unconsciously this thought made him ruthless and he proceeded swiftly. In his dream the man moaned but Sadao paid no heed except to mutter at him.
Ruthless: harsh, merciless
Moaned: made low, soft sounds due to pain
Paid no heed: did not pay attention to
Sadao became merciless and started working fast. The injured man moaned in his state of unconsciousness but Sadao kept on working without paying attention to the man’s pain.
“Groan,” he muttered, “groan if you like. I am not doing this for my own pleasure. In fact, I do not know why I am doing it.”
Sadao said to the injured man that he was free to cry in pain. Sadao was not concerned that the man was in pain. He did not want to operate him and did not have any reason for doing so.
The door opened and there was Hana again.
“Where is the anesthetic?” she asked in a clear voice.
Sadao motioned with his chin. “It is as well that you came back,” he said. “This fellow is beginning to stir.”
She had the bottle and some cotton in her hand.
“But how shall I do it?” she asked.
“Simply saturate the cotton and hold it near his nostrils,” Sadao replied without delaying for one moment the intricate detail of his work. “When he breathes badly move it away a little.”
beginning to stir: gaining consciousness.
Hana entered the room and asked Sadao for the anaesthetic which she had to administer to the injured man. Her voice was clear which shows that now she was prepared to help him. Sadao moved his chin to guide her to the bottle of anaesthetic. He added that it was good that she came as the man had started to gain consciousness and it was important to sedate him. Hana held the bottle and some cotton in her hands. She asked what she was supposed to do. He told her to put some anaesthetic on the cotton and to place the cotton near the man’s nostril. He did not stop his delicate work and added that she should remove the cotton when the man started to breathe badly.
Cable – thick rope
Slack – to reduce
Shed – removed
Panic – fear
Seized – gripped
William tried to ward of the fear but was unable to get rid of it. Finally, in the month of October, he hired an instructor to teach him swimming. He would practise for an hour each day, five days a week. William describes the learning process. The instructor put a belt around William’s waist. The belt was attached to a thick rope. The rope went through an overhead pulley and was held by the instructor. It ensured that in case William drowned, the instructor would pull him out. William swam across the length of the pool for several weeks. Whenever the instructor loosened the rope, he went down into the water and the fear would return. It would immobilize his legs. It was after three months of practise that William got comfortable. Then the instructor taught him to breathe in the water. He taught him to put his face under the water and exhale his breathe. He was taught to raise his nose out of the water and inhale. William practiced several times. Gradually, he got rid of the panic that would grab him when he put his head under the water.
Next he held me at the side of the pool and had me kick with my legs. For weeks I did just that. At first my legs refused to work. But they gradually relaxed; and finally I could command them.
She crouched close to the sleeping face of the young American. It was a piteously thin face, she thought, and the lips were twisted. The man was suffering whether he knew it or not. Watching him, she wondered if the stories they heard sometimes of the sufferings of prisoners were true. They came like flickers of rumour, told by word of mouth and always contradicted. In the newspapers the reports were always that wherever the Japanese armies went the people received them gladly, with cries of joy at their liberation. But sometimes she remembered such men as General Takima, who at home beat his wife cruelly, though no one mentioned it now that he had fought so victorious a battle in Manchuria. If a man like that could be so cruel to a woman in his power, would he not be cruel to one like this for instance?
Crouched: sit in a squatting position
piteously: causing you to feel sad and sympathetic
by word of mouth: people tell it to each other rather than it being printed in written form.
Manchuria: Manchuria (Northeast China) is the homeland of the Manchu people. To the Chinese, the region is simply known as the Northeast. Manchuria is made up of China's three north-eastern most provinces: Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.
Hana sat in a squat and went close to the face of the sleeping American man. She felt sad and sympathetic towards him as she saw his thin face and twisted lips. She knew that he was suffering. She wondered whether the stories that she had heard about the torture meted out to the prisoners were true. The stories were like rumours which spread when people told them to others. On the other hand, in the printed media like the newspapers, it was mentioned that the Japanese army was welcomed wherever it went, and people praised it for their freedom. Hana recalled an officer of the Japanese army, General Takima who was cruel to his wife and would beat her. No one talked about it anymore as he had won the war in Manchuria. Hana thought that if a man could be cruel towards his wife then he could also be cruel to the prisoners in his captivity.
She hoped anxiously that this young man had not been tortured. It was at this moment that she observed deep red scars on his neck, just under the ear.
Hana hoped that the man had not been tortured by the army. Just then she saw deep red coloured marks (injury marks) on his neck, under the ear.
“Those scars,” she murmured, lifting her eyes to Sadao. But he did not answer. At this moment he felt the tip of his instrument strike against something hard, dangerously near the kidney. All thought left him. He felt only the purest pleasure. He probed with his fingers, delicately, familiar with every atom of this human body. His old American professor of anatomy had seen to that knowledge. “Ignorance of the human body is the surgeon’s cardinal sin, sirs!” he had thundered at his classes year after year. “To operate without as complete knowledge of the body as if you had made it — anything less than that is murder.”
Anatomy: the branch of science concerned with the bodily structure of humans, animals, and other living organisms, especially as revealed by dissection and the separation of parts.
Cardinal: basic, first
Hana mentioned the scars to Sadao and asked about them. Sadao did not answer. At that moment, the tip of his instrument hit something hard (the bullet). It was very close to the kidney. Sadao was not thinking of anything else. He was happy to have finally found the bullet. He moved his fingers inside the wound. Sadao was familiar with the tiniest part of the human body. His professor of anatomy in America had told them that if a surgeon ignored the knowledge of any part of the body, it was the first misdeed that he had committed. To operate upon a body without detailed knowledge of it as much as the person who makes it has would amount to committing murder of that body. Sadao’s professor would repeat these words in his class often.
“It is not quite at the kidney, my friend,” Sadao murmured. It was his habit to murmur to the patient when he forgot himself in an operation. “My friend,” he always called his patients and so now he did, forgetting that this was his enemy.
Sadao spoke to the injured man. He said that the bullet had just missed his kidney. When Sadao would get engrossed in the operation, he would start talking to the patient. He addressed thet patient as ‘my friend’. He called the injured man also ‘my friend’. He forgot that this man was not a friend but an enemy.
Then quickly, with the cleanest and most precise of incisions, the bullet was out. The man quivered but he was still unconscious. Nevertheless he muttered a few English words.
Incisions: surgical cuts
Quivered: shivered, trembled
Sadao was quick. He made a few surgical cuts on the body and removed the bullet. The man trembled in pain but remained unconscious. He spoke a few words in English which were an expression of the pain that he was experiencing.
“Guts,” he muttered, choking. “They got...my guts...”
“Sadao!” Hana cried sharply.
“Hush,” Sadao said.
The man sank again into silence so profound that Sadao took up his wrist, hating the touch of it. Yes, there was still a pulse so faint, so feeble, but enough, if he wanted the man to live, to give hope.
Guts: informal word for bravery and determination
Profound: very great or intense
The injured man choked and said “guts,” “They got my guts”. He meant that he was brave and courageous and the Japanese army would have a tough time while punishing him. Upon hearing him Hana cried out to Sadao. Sadao hushed her to keep quiet. The man became so quiet that Sadao held his wrist to check his heartbeat. He was checking if the man was still alive. His pulse was there although it was very weak. Sadao thought that it was enough for a person who had a desire to live. There was still hope that the man would survive.
“But certainly I do not want this man to live,” he thought.
Sadao was sure that he did not want the man to live.
“No more anesthetic,” he told Hana.
He turned as swiftly as though he had never paused and from his medicines he chose a small vial and from it filled a hypodermic and thrust it into the patient’s left arm. Then putting down the needle, he took the man’s wrist again. The pulse under his fingers fluttered once or twice and then grew stronger.
Vial: a small container, typically cylindrical and made of glass, used especially for holding liquid medicines.
Hypodermic: needle, syringe, injection
Sadao stopped Hana from administering anaesthetic. He turned quickly and chose a small bottle from the medicines. He filled a syringe with the medicine and pushed the vaccine into the man’s left arm. Sadao placed the needle down and held the man’s wrist. The pulse shivered once or twice and then improved.
“This man will live in spite of all,” he said to Hana and sighed.
The young man woke, so weak, his blue eyes so terrified when he perceived where he was, that Hana felt compelled to apologise. She herself served him, for none of the servants would enter the room.
Apologise: feel sorry
Sadao took a deep breathe as he told Hana that the injured man would live. He woke up, his blue coloured eyes were full of fright as he realized were he was. Hana felt sorry for him. She served him food as the servants refused to enter the room where he was kept.
When she came in the first time, she saw him summon his small strength to be prepared for some fearful thing.
Summon: to gather
When Hana met the injured man for the first time she saw that the man was gathering strength and he was full of fear.
“Don’t be afraid,” she begged him softly.
“How come... you speak English…” he gasped.
“I was a long time in America,” she replied.
She saw that he wanted to reply to that but he could not, and so she knelt and fed him gently from the porcelain spoon. He ate unwillingly, but still he ate.
Gasped: to catch one’s breathe due to astonishment
Knelt: sat on her knees
Porcelain: a white vitrified translucent ceramic also called china used for making utensils, pottery, etc.
Hana said softly to the injured man that he should not be afraid. He was astonished that she could speak English. Hana replied that she had lived in America for a long time. The man wanted to speak further but was not able to speak. Hana fed him gently with a spoon made of porcelain. The man did not want to eat but still he ate.
“Now you will soon be strong,” she said, not liking him and yet moved to comfort him.
He did not answer.
When Sadao came in the third day after the operation, he found the young man sitting up, his face bloodless with the effort.
“Lie down,” Sadao cried. “Do you want to die?”
He forced the man down gently and strongly and examined the wound. “You may kill yourself if you do this sort of thing,” he scolded.
“What are you going to do with me?” the boy muttered.
He looked just now barely seventeen. “Are you going to hand
As Hana fed the man, she said that soon he would become strong. She said so despite the fact that she disliked him. The man did not reply to her.
Sadao visited the man on the third day after the operation. The young boy was sitting but his face was pale and weak due to the effort that he made while sitting. Sadao screamed at him and ordered him to lie down He said that the man would die if he stressed himself. Sadao forced him down and inspected the wound that he had operated upon. He scolded the man that he could die if he tried to exert himself.
The boy asked Sadao that what would he do with him now.
It seemed that the boy was hardly seventeen years old. He asked Sadao that would he hand him over to the Japanese army.
For a moment Sadao did not answer. He finished hisexamination and then pulled the silk quilt over the man.
“I do not know myself what I shall do with you,” he said. “I ought of course to give you to the police. You are a prisoner of war — no, do not tell me anything.” He put up his hand as he saw the young man was about to speak. “Do not even tell me your name unless I ask it.”
Sadao did not reply instantly. He completed examining the boy and then put the silk quilt on him.
Sadao said that he himself did not know what he should do with the boy. He added that he was supposed to hand him over to the police. He also disclosed that he knew that the boy was a prisoner of war. As Sadao saw that the boy was about to speak, he raised his hand to indicate him not to do so. Sadao asked him not to speak and not to tell his name also unless he asked him to do so.
They looked at each other for a moment, and then the young man closed his eyes and turned his face to the wall. “Okay,” he whispered, his mouth a bitter line.
Outside the door Hana was waiting for Sadao. He saw at once that she was in trouble.
Sadao and the boy exchanged glances and then the boy closed his eyes and turned his face towards the wall. He said okay in a low voice as he felt bitter by Sadao’s words.
Outside the door Hana was waiting for Sadao. He saw that she was in some sort of a trouble.
“Sadao, Yumi tells me the servants feel they cannot stay if we hide this man here any more,” she said. “She tells me that they are saying that you and I were so long in America that we have forgotten to think of our own country first. They think we like Americans.”
Hana said to Sadao that Yumi told her that the servants would not stay with them if the American man lived there any longer. She also said that Sadao and Hana had been in America for such a long time that they had forgotten their country’s priority. Yumi and the servants thought that Hana and Sadao liked Americans.
“It is not true,” Sadao said harshly “Americans are our enemies. But I have been trained not to let a man die if I can help it.”
Sadao reacted harshly and said that this was not true. He said that Americans were their enemies. He had been trained in such a way that he could not let a man die and would help to save him in whichever way he could. That was what Sadao had done.
“The servants cannot understand that,” she said anxiously.
“No,” he agreed.
Neither seemed able to say more, and somehow the household dragged on. The servants grew more watchful. Their courtesy was as careful as ever, but their eyes were cold upon the pair to whom they were hired.
Hana said that the servants could not understand Sadao’s predicament.
Sadao agreed with this.
Both of them had nothing more to say. The chores of the house continued but the servants were vigilant. They were polite but unfriendly towards their masters.
“It is clear what our master ought to do,” the old gardener said one morning. He had worked with flowers all his life, and had been a specialist too in moss. For Sadao’s father he had made one of the finest moss gardens in Japan, sweeping the bright green carpet constantly so that not a leaf or a pine needle marred the velvet of its surface. “My old master’s son knows very well what he ought to do,” he now said, pinching a bud from a bush as he spoke. “When the man was so near death why did he not let him bleed?”
Moss: a very small soft green plant
Pine needles: very thin, sharp leaves that grow on pine trees
One morning, the old gardener said that it was obvious what their master should have done. The old gardener had worked with flowers all his life and specialized in moss. He had been employed by Sadao’s father. The gardener had made one of the best moss gardens in Japan for Sadao’s father. He would sweep the bright green coloured carpet of the moss clean so that the sharp leaves of pine tree could not spoil the soft velvety surface. He plucked a flower bud from the bush as he said that his master’s son i.e. Sadao knew very well what he was supposed to do. He added that when the man was almost dead, he should have left him to bleed to death.
“That young master is so proud of his skill to save life that he saves any life,” the cook said contemptuously. She split a fowl’s neck skillfully and held the fluttering bird and let its blood flow into the roots of a wistaria vine. Blood is the best of fertilisers, and the old gardener would not let her waste a drop of it.
Wistaria wine: a flowering plant used for decoration
The cook said disrespectfully that their master was so proud of his skill at saving lives that he did not bother whose life he was saving. She cut the neck of a hen skilfully and held the bird as it shivered. She let the blood of the hen flow into the wisteria plant. The old gardener had instructed her that blood was the best fertilizer for the plants and he did not allow her to waste a single drop of it.
“It is the children of whom we must think,” Yumi said sadly. “What will be their fate if their father is condemned as a traitor?”
Traitor: a person who betrays his country
Yumi was worried about the fate of Sadao and Hana's children. She wondered that when they grew up they would be labelled as the children of a traitor. As Sadao was helping an American, all the people of Japan would consider him to be an enemy of Japan, a traitor of his country.
They did not try to hide what they said from the ears of Hana as she stood arranging the day’s flowers in the veranda near by, and she knew they spoke on purpose that she might hear. That they were right she knew too in most of her being. But there was another part of her which she herself could not understand. It was not sentimental liking of the prisoner. She had come to think of him as a prisoner. She had not liked him even yesterday when he had said in his impulsive way, “Anyway, let me tell you that my name is Tom.” She had only bowed her little distant bow. She saw hurt in his eyes but she did not wish to assuage it. Indeed, he was a great trouble in this house.
Impulsive: sudden, thoughtless
Assuage: decrease, reduce
As Hana stood in the verandah arranging the flowers, the servants discussed the matter in her presence as they wanted her to know their views about the matter. Hana also felt that the servants were right, but she had some feelings for the injured man which she could also not analyse. She did not like the Prisoner neither was she attached towards him. The day before the injured man told her that his name was Tom. Hana did not like him at that moment also. She had reacted by bowing her head mildly. She saw that her reaction hurt the injured man, but she did not want to reduce this hurt that she had caused to him because the injured man was a great trouble to her. His presence was a threat to Hana and Sadao.
As for Sadao, every day he examined the wound carefully. The last stitches had been pulled out this morning, and the young man would, in a fortnight be nearly as well as ever. Sadao went back to his office and carefully typed a letter to the Chief of police reporting the whole matter. “On the twenty-first day of February an escaped prisoner was washed up on the shore in front of my house.” So far he typed and then he opened a secret drawer of his desk and put the unfinished report into it.
Sadao was performing his role perfectly. He would examine the wound every day. One morning the last stitches were removed from the injured man's body and he would be as well as ever in the next 15 days. In the meantime, Sadao went to his office and wrote a letter to the chief of the police to report the entire matter to him. Sadao started his report and he wrote that on the 21st of February an escaped prisoner was washed up on the shore in front of his house. Sadao had just typed this much of the report. He opened the drawer of his desk and kept this unfinished report in it.
On the seventh day after that, two things happened. In the morning the servants left together, their belongings tied in large square cotton kerchiefs. When Hana got up in the morning nothing was done, the house not cleaned and the food not prepared, and she knew what it meant. She was dismayed and even terrified, but her pride as a mistress would not allow her to show it. Instead, she inclined her head gracefully when they appeared before her in the kitchen, and she paid them off and thanked them for all that they had done for her. They were crying, but she did not cry. The cook and the gardener had served Sadao since he was a little boy in his father’s house, and Yumi cried because of the children. She was so grieving that after she had gone she ran back to Hana.
Kerchief: square piece of cloth
Mistress: a woman in a position of authority or control
Inclined: bent towards one side
Grieving: in a state of sadness
On the seventh day after that two things happened. The servants of the house left in the morning. They had tied their belongings in huge pieces of cloth. When Hana got up in the morning, she saw that the work had not been done – the house was dirty, and the food had not been cooked. She realized that the servants were up to something. She was shocked and horrified when she came to know that the servants were leaving. Hana did not show her feelings to the servants, instead she remained calm and maintained her grace as the lady of the house. She paid the servants and thanked them for their services. As the servants had been working there for many years, they were crying but Hana did not cry. The cook and the gardener were very old employees. They had been employed by Sadao’s father and had served Sadao since his childhood. Yumi was crying because she would miss the children. She was so sad that she ran up to Hana after she had left.
“If the baby misses me too much tonight, send for me. I am going to my own house and you know where it is.”
“Thank you,” Hana said smiling. But she told herself she would not send for Yumi however the baby cried.
Yumi said to Hana that if the baby missed her at night she could call her. She further added that she was going to her own house and Hana knew where her house was. Hana smiled and thanked her for the offer but to herself she said that in case the baby cried she would not call for Yumi.
She made the breakfast and Sadao helped with the children. Neither of them spoke of the servants beyond the fact that they were gone. But after Hana had taken morning food to the prisoner, she came back to Sadao.
The next morning Hana prepared the breakfast and Sadao helped her by looking after the children. Neither of them talked regarding the servants but after Hana served the morning food to the Prisoner of War she came back to Sadao probably to talk something.
“Why is it we cannot see clearly what we ought to do?” she asked him. “Even the servants see more clearly than we do. Why are we different from other Japanese?”
Hana was very worried, and she questioned that why they were not very clear about what they ought to do. She added that even their servants were very clear as compared to them. She said that why were they behaving differently from other Japanese people. Hana wanted to say that as Americans were their Enemies they should not have treated that Prisoner Of War and they should have let him die just like any other Japanese would have done.
Sadao did not answer. But a little later he went into the room where the prisoner was and said brusquely, “Today you may get up on your feet. I want you to stay up only five minutes at a time. Tomorrow you may try it twice as long. It would be well that you get back your strength as quickly as possible.”
Sadao did not reply to Hana but after some time he went into the room where the Prisoner of War was resting and spoke very fast. He said that that day the man could get up and stand on his feet. Sadao wanted him to stand only for 5 minutes at a time. Further he added that the next day he could try to stand for double the time that is 10 minutes. Sadao also said that it would be good for everyone that the man regained strength as soon as possible. Sadao hinted that they wanted to get rid of the American as early because he had become a cause of trouble for them.
He saw the flicker of terror on the young face that was still very pale. “Okay,” the boy murmured. Evidently he was determined to say more. “I feel I ought to thank you, Doctor, for having saved my life.”
Sadao saw that his words brought a hint of terror and scare on the face of the young boy. His face was still very pale and colourless because he was very weak. The boy spoke in a low voice and said “Okay”. It appeared that he wanted to speak something more but he just said that he wanted to thank Sadao for saving his life.
“Don’t thank me too early,” Sadao said coldly. He saw the flicker of terror again in the boy’s eyes — terror as unmistakable as an animal’s. The scars on his neck were crimson for a moment. Those scars! What were they? Sadao did not ask.
Crimson: bright red colour
Sadao was very expressionless when he said that the boy did not need to thank him yet. As he spoke this he saw that the hint of scare again appeared in the boy’s eyes. The writer compares the boy’s terrorized eyes to that of a scared animal. The injury marks on the neck of the boy turned the bright red in colour for a while. Sadao thought that what has caused those injury marks, but he did not ask the boy about them.
In the afternoon the second thing happened. Hana, working hard on unaccustomed labour, saw a messenger come to the door in official uniform. Her hands went weak and she could not draw her breath. The servants must have told already. She ran to Sadao, gasping, unable to utter a word. But by then the messenger had simply followed her through the garden and there he stood. She pointed at him helplessly.
Unaccustomed labour: not used to perform hard work
Gasping: struggling to breathe, unable to speak
That day the second incident happened in the afternoon. Hana was busy with the household work as the servants had left. All of a sudden, she had to perform all the work which she was not used to. She was very tired. She saw that a messenger wearing official uniform had come to the house. As she saw him her hands went week and she was unable to breathe. This was because she felt that the servants must have told the authorities that they were sheltering an enemy. Hana ran up to Sadao and she was struggling to breathe. She was unable to speak. By that time the Messenger also followed her through the garden and he stood in front of Sadao. Hana was helpless, and she pointed her finger towards the Messenger.
Sadao looked up from his book. He was in his office, the other partition of which was thrown open to the garden for the southern sunshine.
Southern sunshine: the door of the office which opened into the garden faced the South direction. This means that the sunshine which entered the office was not direct and bright instead it was a shady sunshine.
Sadao was reading a book and when he saw Hana, he looked up. He was sitting in his office which had a partition in it. The part of the office beyond the partition opened into the garden and was full of shady sunshine.
“What is it?” he asked the messenger and then he rose, seeing the man’s uniform.
Sadao asked the messenger the matter due to which he had visited them. When he saw that the Messenger was wearing a uniform he stood up as a mark of respect.
“You are to come to the palace,” the man said. “The old General is in pain again.”
The Messenger said that Sadao was supposed to accompany him to the palace. He added that the old general was suffering in pain and Sadao was supposed to visit him and treat him as a doctor.
“Oh,” Hana breathed, “is that all?”
“All?” the messenger exclaimed.
“Is it not enough?”
“Indeed it is,” she replied. “I am very sorry.”
Upon hearing this Hannah was relieved and she said, “oh”. With this, she took a deep breath and asked that was that all for which the Messenger had come. The messenger reacted and said, “All?” he could not understand that what else could it be for which he was supposed to visit the house. He asked that was that not enough, did they want any other reason for him to visit them. Hana was sorry for her reaction and said that the reason was enough for the messenger to visit them. She did not need any other reason for him to visit them.
When Sadao came to say goodbye, she was in the kitchen, but doing nothing. The children were asleep and she sat merely resting for a moment, more exhausted from her fright than from work.
As Sadao had to accompany the Messenger, he went to Hana to say goodbye. Hana was in the kitchen but she was not doing anything. The children had gone to sleep, and Hana was taking rest. She was more tired due to the scare on seeing the messenger than she was from doing the household work.
“I thought they had come to arrest you”, she said.
Hana said to Sadao that she had thought that the messenger had come to arrest him.
He gazed down into her anxious eyes. “I must get rid of this man for your sake,” he said in distress. “Somehow I must get rid of him.”
Sadao looked carefully at Hana’s anxious eyes. He was very sad and distressed, and he said that he must get rid of the man for her sake. He added that he had to get rid of the man by any means.
(Sadao goes to see the General)
Sadao went along with the messenger to visit the general
“Of course,” the General said weakly, “I understandfully. But that is because, I once took a degree in Princeton.So few Japanese have.”
Sadao narrated the entire story to the general. The general who was very weak said that he understood Sadao's position because he had also studied in America at the Princeton University but there were only a few Japanese who had studied in America.
“I care nothing for the man, Excellency,” Sadao said, “but having operated on him with such success…”
“Yes, yes” the General said. “It only makes me feel you more indispensable to me. Evidently you can save anyone— you are so skilled. You say you think I can stand one more such attack as I have had today?”
“Not more than one,” Sadao said.
Sadao replied to the general that he did not care for the American man but as he had operated upon him successfully. The general interrupted him and said, “yes, yes”. He felt that Sadao was a necessary part of his life. As Sadao had been successful at operating on the man, the general felt that Sadao was very skilled. The general asked that did Sadao think that the general had any chance of surviving another heart attack as the one he had that day. Sadao replied that in his opinion the general could not survive more than one such heart attack.
“Then certainly I can allow nothing to happen to you, ”the General said with anxiety. His long pale Japanese face became expressionless, which meant that he was in deep thought. “You cannot be arrested,” the General said, closing his eyes. “Suppose you were condemned to death and the next day I had to have my operation?”
The general said that then in that case he could not allow anything to happen to Sadao. He wanted to say that he needed Sadao and so, he would protect him. The general's long, weak yellowish face became expressionless because he was thinking about Sadao being arrested. He became serious, closed his eyes at the thought of Sadao being arrested and said that Sadao could not be arrested. Further, he added that if Sadao was sentenced to death and he needed an operation the next day, then who would operate upon him. So, the general wanted to say that he needed Sadao and so he would protect him and he would not let anything happen to him.
“There are other surgeons, Excellency,” Sadao suggested. “None I trust,” the General replied. “The best ones have been trained by Germans and would consider the operation successful even if I died. I do not care for their point of view.” He sighed. “It seems a pity that we cannot better combine the German ruthlessness with the American sentimentality. Then you could turn your prisoner over to execution and yet I could be sure you would not murder me while I was unconscious.” The General laughed. He had an unusual sense of humour. “As a Japanese, could you not combine these two foreign elements?” he asked.
sentimentality: being emotional
execution: legal punishment
Sadao suggested to the general that there were many other surgeons in Japan. The general replied that he did not trust anyone else other than Sadao. He added that the best surgeons had been trained by the Germans and for them the operation would be successful even if the general died. He did not care for their point of view. The general added that the Japanese could not combine the harsh nature of the Germans with the emotional nature of the Americans. So the general wanted to say that they did not have such persons who could combine the harsh nature of a German and the emotional nature of an American. He said that if they would have been able to do that then Sadao could be harsh and could turn the prisoner to the Japanese and at the same time, be emotional and not murder the general during the operation. With this the general laughed. The writer says that the general had a strange sense of humour. He was very witty. Then he asked Sadao that being Japanese could he not combine these two foreign elements. So, the foreign elements to which the general is referring is the harsh nature of a German and the emotional nature of an American.
Sadao smiled. “I am not quite sure,” he said, “but for your sake I would be willing to try, Excellency.”
Sadao smiled at the general’s question and said that he was not quite sure about it but for his betterment, he was willing to try it out.
The General shook his head. “I had rather not be the test case,” he said.
The general shook his head as he did not want to be such a person on whom a new trial would be made.
He felt suddenly weak and overwhelmed with the cares of his life as an official in times such as these when repeated victory brought great responsibilities all over the south Pacific.
Overwhelmed: full of emotions
Cares of his life: problems and responsibilities that he faced during his life
South pacific: the part of the Pacific Ocean that lies in the southern hemisphere.
Suddenly, the general felt weak and emotional as he was reminded of the problems he had faced throughout his life while fulfilling his duties and responsibilities in various wars won by Japan.
“It is very unfortunate that this man should have washed up on your doorstep,” he said irritably.
“I feel it so myself,” Sadao said gently.
The general was irritated and said that the happening of the injured man reaching his house was an unfortunate one.
Sadao agreed with him.
“It would be best if he could be quietly killed,” the General said. “Not by you, but by someone who does not know him. I have my own private assassins. Suppose I send two of them to your house tonight or better, any night. You need know nothing about it. It is now warm — what would be more natural than that you should leave the outer partition of the white man’s room open to the garden while he sleeps?”
Assassins: professional killers
The general said that the best solution was to kill the man quietly. He added that he would not be killed by Sadao but by his hired killers. He would send two killers to Sadao’s house that night or any night. Sadao did not need to know about it. As the weather was warm those days, he wanted Sadao to act naturally and keep the door of the outer partition of the man’s room open. As it opened into the garden, it would give easy access to the killers while the man was asleep.
“Certainly it would be very natural,” Sadao agreed. “Infact, it is so left open every night.”
Sadao agreed that the idea seemed natural. He added that they did leave the door of the outer partition open at night.
“Good,” the General said, yawning. “They are very capable assassins — they make no noise and they know the trick of inward bleeding. If you like I can even have them remove the body.”
The general was over with the talk and so, he yawned to show disinterest. He added that was a good thing. He commented that the killers were experts – they did not make any noise and killed the person in such a way that he bled inside. There would be no traces of blood on his body. He would even ask them to remove the dead body if Sadao wanted.
Sadao considered. “That perhaps would be best, Excellency,” he agreed, thinking of Hana.
Sadao thought about Hana and said that that would be very good.
He left the General’s presence then and went home, thinking over the plan. In this way the whole thing would be taken out of his hands. He would tell Hana nothing, since she would be timid at the idea of assassins in the house, and yet certainly such persons were essential in an absolute state such as Japan was. How else could rulers deal with those who opposed them?
Timid: showing lack of courage or confidence
Absolute state: a state run by kings having total powers
Sadao went back home and on the way he kept on thinking of the plan that he had made along with the general. He thought that in this way, he would not be involved in the death of that American man. He planned that he would not tell Hana anything about this plan. Hana would not like the idea of the hired Killers coming to their house but such persons were essential in a place like Japan. It was the only way for the rulers to deal with their opponents.
He refused to allow anything but reason to be the atmosphere of his mind as he went into the room where the American was in bed. But as he opened the door, to his surprise he found the young man out of bed, and preparing to go into the garden.
Reason: an idea backed by common sense
Sadao did not let any thought enter his mind as he went into the room where the American man lay asleep. He was surprised to see the man out of his bed. He was getting ready to go out into the garden.
“What is this!” he exclaimed. “Who gave you permission to leave your room?”
Sadao was shocked as he asked him that who had permitted him to stand and walk.
“I’m not used to waiting for permission,” Tom said gaily. “Gosh, I feel pretty good again! But will the muscles on this side always feel stiff?”
Tom was happy and said that he was not in a habit of taking permission before doing anything. He said that he felt good again, just the muscles on the sides of his body were stiff and rigid.
“Is it so?” Sadao inquired, surprised. He forgot all else. “Now I thought I had provided against that,” he murmured. He lifted the edge of the man’s shirt and gazed at the healing scar. “Massage may do it,” he said, “if exercise does not.”
Sadao was surprised to hear that. He forgot all work and said that he had warned the man not to stand and walk. He lifted the man’s shirt and inspected the scar. He said that massage could heal it if it would not be healed by exercise.
“It won’t bother me much,” the young man said. His young face was gaunt under the stubbly blond beard. “Say, Doctor, I’ve got something I want to say to you. If I hadn’t meta Jap like you — well, I wouldn’t be alive today. I know that.”
Sadao bowed but he could not speak.
Gaunt: gloomy, weak
Stubbly: unshaven, bearded
Blond: light – coloured, yellowish colour
The man said that the scar would not trouble him. His young, bearded face was weak. He thanked Sadao and said that if he had not reached Sadao that day, then he would have died.
“Sure, I know that,” Tom went on warmly. His big thin hands gripping a chair were white at the knuckles. “I guess if all the Japs were like you there wouldn’t have been a war.”
Gripping: holding tightly
Tom added that he was sure of that. As he held the chair tightly with his thin hands, the knuckled turned white in colour. This indicated that he was still weak and had not recovered fully. Tom added that if all the Japanese people would have been like Sadao, then the war would not have happened.
“Perhaps,” Sadao said with difficulty. “And now I think you had better go back to bed.”
Sadao said that maybe that could be true. He added that the man should go to sleep.
He helped the boy back into bed and then bowed. “Goodnight,” he said.
He helped the man lay in bed, bowed to him, said “goodnight”.
Sadao slept badly that night. Time and time again he woke, thinking he heard the rustling of footsteps, the sound of a twig broken or a stone displaced in the garden — a noise such as men might make who carried a burden.
Rustling: the sound made by footsteps
Twig: branch of tree
Burden: here, it refers to a dead body.
Sadao was restless all through the night as he felt that the hired killers were there to kill the man. He imagined hearing the sound of footsteps, branches being broken, stones moving as men walked on them and imagined that he heard such a noise which indicated that some men were carrying the American’s dead body. All this anxiety kept him awake.
The next morning, he made the excuse to go first into the guest room. If the American were gone he then could simply tell Hana that so the General had directed. But when he opened the door he saw at once that there on the pillow was the shaggy blond head. He could hear the peaceful breathing of sleep and he closed the door again quietly.
In the morning Sadao made an excuse to go into the American man’s room first. He had planned that if the man was gone then he would tell Hana that the general had ordered for him to be removed from there. When he opened the door, he saw the man who had lots of yellowish coloured hair was asleep. He could hear the sound of his breathing. Sadao closed the door of the room.
“He is asleep,” he told Hana. “He is almost well to sleep like that.”
Sadao said to Hana that the man was asleep. He added that now he was well and did not need to sleep like that.
“What shall we do with him?” Hana whispered her old refrain.
Sadao shook his head. “I must decide in a day or two,” he promised.
Refrain: a sound that is repeated time and again
Hana again asked Sadao that what should they do with the man. Sadao shook his head and promised her that he would decide it in one or two days.
But certainly, he thought, the second night must be the night. There rose a wind that night, and he listened to the sounds of bending boughs and whistling partitions.
Boughs: branches of trees
Partitions: structures dividing a room into parts
Sadao thought that perhaps the killers would come the next night. The night was windy. He heard the sounds made by the branches as they bent due to the wind and the partitions made whistling sound as the wind passed through them.
Hana woke too. “Ought we not to go and close the sickman’s partition?” she asked.
Hana woke and asked that should they close the partition door of the man’s room.
“No,” Sadao said. “He is able now to do it for himself.”
Sadao refused and said that the man was capable to do that himself.
But the next morning the American was still there.
The next morning the American man was still there in the room.
Then the third night of course must be the night. The wind changed to quiet rain and the garden was full of the sound of dripping eaves and running springs. Sadao slept a little better, but he woke at the sound of a crash and leaped to his feet.
Eaves: part of the roof that meets or overhangs the wall of a building
Sadao was hopeful that they might come on the third night. Instead of the wind, there was rain that night. The garden was full of noises as the water dripped down the roof and tiny rivulets flowed through the garden. Sadao slept a little and jumped as he heard a loud noise.
“What was that?” Hana cried. The baby woke at her voice and began to wail. “I must go and see.”
But he held her and would not let her move.
“Sadao,” she cried, “what is the matter with you?”
“Don’t go,” he muttered, “don’t go!”
His terror infected her and she stood breathless, waiting. There was only silence. Together they crept back into the bed, the baby between them.
Wail: cry loudly
Hana heard the loud crash and asked what it was. The baby also woke up and started crying. Hana wanted to go and check on it but Sadao stopped her. Hana screamed at him and asked what the matter was. Sadao spoke slowly and asked her not to go. He was scared and his scare affected Hana too. She stood without breathing and waited. There was silence and both of them crawled back into the bed with the baby lying on the bed in between them.
Yet when he opened the door of the guest room in the morning there was the young man. He was very gay and had already washed and was now on his feet. He had asked for a razor yesterday and had shaved himself and today there was a faint colour in his cheeks.
there was a faint colour in his cheeks: his pale yellow coloured cheeks were turning pinkish in colour which indicated that he was recovering.
In the morning, Sadao went into the guest room and saw the man was there. He was happy and had taken his bath and had started moving around. He had borrowed a razor from Sadao the previous day and had shaved his beard. The colour of his cheeks was slightly pinkish which indicated that he was recovering and regaining good health.
“I am well,” he said joyously.
The man announced happily that he was well.
Sadao drew his kimono round his weary body. He could not, he decided suddenly, go through another night. It was not that he cared for this young man’s life. No, simply it was not worth the strain.
Sadao wrapped his traditional Japanese gown around his tired body. He was tired because the curiosity had kept him awake for two consecutive nights. He decided that he could not pass one more night in such a way. He was not bothered about the man’s life but he could not bear the stress and anxiety any longer.
“You are well,” Sadao agreed. He lowered his voice. “You are so well that I think if I put my boat on the shore tonight, with food and extra clothing in it, you might be able to row to that little island not far from the coast. It is so near the coast that it has not been worth fortifying. Nobody lives on it because in storm it is submerged. But this is not the season of storm. You could live there until you saw a Korean fishing boat pass by. They pass quite near the island because the water is many fathoms deep there.”
Fortifying: putting security at a place
Submerged: here, sink into the sea
Fathom: a unit of measuring the depth of the sea.
Sadao said to the man that he was well now. He lowered his voice and said that he was strong enough to sail a boat. Sadao planned that if he arranged a boat, stock it with food and extra clothing, the man would be able to row it to the nearby island. As the island was so close to the coast, it had not been guarded. It was not inhabited as it sunk into the sea during the storms. As it was not the season of storms at that time, the man could live on the island until he spotted a Korean fishing boat pass by. The Korean fishing boats passed near the island as the sea was very deep there.
The young man stared at him, slowly comprehending. “Do I have to?” he asked.
“I think so,” Sadao said gently. “You understand — it is not hidden that you are here.”
The young man nodded in perfect comprehension. “Okay,” he said simply.
Nodded: lower and raise one's head slightly and briefly, especially in greeting, assent, or understanding, or to give someone a signal.
The young man stared Sadao as he understood his words. He asked that was it necessary for him to do so. Sadao pleaded that he must understand that the fact that the man was living at his house was known to everyone. The young man agreed with him and said “okay”. He moved his head to indicate his acceptance.
Sadao did not see him again until evening. As soon as it was dark he had dragged the stout boat down to the shore and in it he put food and bottled water that he had bought secretly during the day, as well as two quilts he had bought at a pawnshop. The boat he tied to a post in the water, for the tide was high. There was no moon and he worked without a flashlight.
Stout: fat, big
Pawnshop: a store that lends money in exchange for a valuable thing that they can sell if the person leaving it does not pay an agreed amount of money by an agreed time
Sadao left and did not meet the young man until evening. During the day, he made arrangements for him. As it became dark, Sadao pulled out a big boat to the shore. He placed food and bottled water in it that he had bought secretly during the day. He kept two quilts in it. He had purchased them from the pawnshop. As there was a high tide in the sea, he tied the boat to a pole. It was a dark, moonless night and Sadao worked without a torch. He did not want to be spotted by anyone.
When he came to the house he entered as though he were just back from his work, and so Hana knew nothing. “Yumi was here today,” she said as she served his supper. Though she was so modern, still she did not eat with him. “Yumi cried over the baby,” she went on with a sigh. “She misses him so.”
Supper: an evening meal, typically a light or informal one.
Modern: relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past.
When Sadao came home, he pretended as though he had returned from work so that Hana did not guess anything. Hana served him the evening meal and said that Yumi had visited them that day as she missed the baby a lot. Although Yumi was modern, she did not eat with Sadao.
“The servants will come back as soon as the foreigner is gone,” Sadao said.
Sadao said that as soon as the American man left, the servants would return.
He went into the guest room that night before he went to bed himself and checked carefully the American’s temperature, the state of the wound, and his heart and pulse. The pulse was irregular but that was perhaps because of excitement. The young man’s pale lips were pressed together and his eyes burned. Only the scars on his neck were red.
That night before going to bed, Sadao visited the man. He checked his body temperature, the wound, his heart and heartbeat. The heartbeat was unsteady due to excitement as he was about to leave their home. The man’s lips were pressed together and his eyes were red in colour which seemed to be burning with fire. The scars on his neck were still red as they had not healed yet.
“I realise you are saving my life again,” he told Sadao. “Not at all,” Sadao said. “It is only inconvenient to have you here any longer.”
The young man said to Sadao that he was saving his life once again. Sadao said that it was not like that. He was sending him because he could not keep him any longer.
He had hesitated a good deal about giving the man a flashlight. But he had decided to give it to him after all. It was a small one, his own, which he used at night when he was called.
Hesitated: paused in indecision before saying or doing something.
Sadao was reluctant in giving him a torch as he felt that if the man used it unwisely, he could be spotted and land into trouble. Finally, he gave him his own torch, the one that he used when he had to attend to patients at night.
“If your food runs out before you catch a boat,” he said, “signal me two flashes at the same instant the sun drops over the horizon. Do not signal in darkness, for it will be seen. If you are all right but still there, signal me once. You will find fresh fish easy to catch but you must eat them raw. A fire would be seen.”
“Okay,” the young man breathed.
Runs out: finishes
Sun drops: the Sun sets
Horizon: the line at which the earth's surface and the sky appear to meet, skyline
Sadao instructed the man. He said that if his stock of food finished before he found a Korean fishing boat, he could signal him with two flashes of the torch at dusk time. He asked him to be careful not to signal when it was dark because light was more visible in the dark as compared to dusk. He added that the man could find fish in the sea near the island but he had to eat it raw. He was not supposed to cook it because fire would be spotted by the guards and put him in danger. The man drew a breath on hearing the instructions and said “okay.”
He was dressed now in the Japanese clothes which Sadao had given him, and at the last moment Sadao wrapped a black cloth about his blond head.
“Now,” Sadao said.
The man wore the traditional Japanese dress that Sadao gave him to wear. Finally, Sadao wrapped a black cloth around his head to hide his golden coloured hair.
The young American, without a word, shook Sadao’s hand warmly, and then walked quite well across the floor and down the step into the darkness of the garden. Once — twice... Sadao saw his light flash to find his way. But that would not be suspected. He waited until from the shore there was one more flash. Then he closed the partition. That night he slept.
The American man shook hands with Sadao as he walked away towards the boat. He used the torch twice to find his way, but the guards would not doubt that. Sadao waited till he saw the torch light once more as the man boarded the boat. Sadao closed the door of the partition and slept well that night as he had finally got rid of the man.
“You say the man escaped?” the General asked faintly. He had been operated upon a week before, an emergency operation to which Sadao had been called in the night. For twelve hours Sadao had not been sure the General would live. The gall bladder was much involved.
Gall bladder: the small sac-shaped organ beneath the liver, in which bile is stored after secretion by the liver and before release into the intestine.
A week ago, the general had been operated upon in an emergency in which Sadao took part. Sadao informed him that the man escaped. The general was weak as he was recovering from the operation. For twelve hours after the operation, his condition was critical and Sadao was not sure that he would survive. They had operated upon his gall bladder.
Then the old man had begun to breathe deeply again and to demand food. Sadao had not been able to ask about the assassins. So far as he knew they had never come. The servants had returned and Yumi had cleaned the guest room thoroughly and had burned sulphur in it to get the white man’s smell out of it. Nobody said anything. Only the gardener was cross because he had got behind with his chrysanthemums.
Sulphur: a chemical element used as a disinfectant
Cross: angry, disappointed
Chrysanthemum: a flower
The general was an old man. After the operation, gradually, he started eating food and breathed deeply. Sadao did not have the courage to ask him what happened to the professional killers that he had promised to send to kill the American man. Sadao knew that the killers did not turn up ever. At Sadao’s home things returned to normal. The servants returned, Yumi used Sulphur to disinfect the room used by the American man. The servants did not speak anything. The gardener was annoyed because he had got late to plant the chrysanthemum flowers due to this incident.
But after a week Sadao felt the General was well enough to be spoken to about the prisoner.
“Yes, Excellency, he escaped,” Sadao now said. He coughed, signifying that he had not said all he might have said, but was unwilling to disturb the General further. But the old man opened his eyes suddenly.
After one-week Sadao felt that the general was well enugh that he could discuss the man with him. Sadao said that the man had escaped. Sadao coughed up which indicated that Sadao had not told him everything as he did not want to disturb him. The general was reminded of his promise to send the professional killers and he opened his eyes suddenly when he heard about the American man.
“That prisoner,” he said with some energy, “did I not promise you I would kill him for you?”
The general was reminded of his promise and asked Sadao that had he not promised him to get that man killed by his personal professional killers.
“You did, Excellency,” Sadao said.
“Well, well!” the old man said in a tone of amazement, “so I did! But you see, I was suffering a good deal. The truth is, I thought of nothing but myself. In short, I forgot my promise to you.”
Sadao replied that he had promised him. The general was surprised and said that as he was suffering due to bad health, he had forgotten all about the promise that he had made.
“I wondered, Your Excellency,” Sadao murmured.
“It was certainly very careless of me,” the General said. “But you understand it was not lack of patriotism or dereliction of duty.” He looked anxiously at his doctor. “If the matter should come out you would understand that, wouldn’t you?”
Patriotism: love for one’s country
Dereliction: failure to perform one’s duty
Sadao spoke softly that he wondered that the general had forgotten his promise.
The general felt sorry that he had been careless. He added that it was neither that he did not love Japan nor that he was shirking from his duty. He looked at Sadao with curiosity as he sought support from him. He wondered that Sadao understood his problem.
“Certainly, Your Excellency,” Sadao said. He suddenly comprehended that the General was in the palm of his hand and that as a consequence he himself was perfectly safe. “I can swear to your loyalty, Excellency,” he said to the old General, “and to your zeal against the enemy.”
the General was in the palm of his hand: he had control of the general
zeal: great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective
Sadao said that he understood the general’s position well. He understood that the general was in his control and as a result, Sadao was safe. Sadao said that he could swear upon the general’s loyalty towards Japan and his enthusiasm to fight the enemy.
“You are a good man,” the General murmured and closed his eyes.” “You will be rewarded.”
But Sadao, searching the spot of black in the twilighted sea that night, had his reward. There was no prick of light in the dusk. No one was on the island. His prisoner was gone — safe, doubtless, for he had warned him to wait only for a Korean fishing boat.
Twilighted: at the time of twilight i.e. sunset or sunrise.
Prick: slightest amount
Dusk: the time of sunset
The general was relaxed and said that Sadao was a good man. He closed his eyes and said that Sadao would be rewarded for his goodness.
Sadao got his reward when at dusk, he looked towards the island and saw no trace of torch light. This meant that the American man had found a Korean fishing boat and had gone with it safely back home. Sadao did not doubt this as he had instructed the man to wait for a Korean fishing boat.
He stood for a moment on the veranda, gazing out to the sea from whence the young man had come that other night. And into his mind, although without reason, there came other white faces he had known — the professor at whose house he had met Hana, a dull man, and his wife had been a silly talkative woman, in spite of her wish to be kind. He remembered his old teacher of anatomy, who had been so insistent on mercy with the knife, and then he remembered the face of his fat and slatternly landlady. He had had great difficulty in finding a place to live in America because he was a Japanese. The Americans were full of prejudice and it had been bitter to live in it, knowing himself their superior. How he had despised the ignorant and dirty old woman who had at last consented to house him in her
miserable home! He had once tried to be grateful to her because she had in his last year nursed him through influenza, but it was difficult, for she was no less repulsive to him in her kindness. Now he remembered the youthful, haggard face of his prisoner — white and repulsive.
“Strange,” he thought. “I wonder why I could not kill him?”
Anatomy: the branch of science concerned with the bodily structure of humans, animals, and other living organisms, especially as revealed by dissection and the separation of parts.
Slatternly: dirty, untidy
Prejudice: preconceived idea or opinion
Miserable: in poor condition
Nursed him: taken care of him
Influenza: a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever
Repulsive: awful, terrible
Haggard: looking exhausted and unwell, especially from fatigue, worry, or suffering.
Sadao stood in the veranda and recollected the past events. He looked at the sea from where the man had come that night. He had flashbacks of all the Americans he had met in his life – the dull professor at whose house he had met Hana, his silly, talkative wife who was very kind. He remembered his teacher of anatomy who had taught them to cut open the body with a knife. Then he remembered the fat, untidy landlady. Being a Japanese, he had found an accommodation in America with great difficulty. He hated living there knowing that the Japanese were superior to the Americans and still being treated like inferiors. Sadao disliked the dirty old woman who finally agreed to let him live in her home which was in a bad condition. Sadao tried to be thankful to her because she had taken care of him when he was struck by influenza during the last year of his stay in America. It was difficult for Sadao to be thankful to her as he hated her even though she was kind to him. Sadao hated her so much that her kindness also did not make him like her. Finally, Sadao remembered the weak face of the American prisoner – it was white in colour and was terrible.
Sadao felt that it was strange that he could not kill his enemy.
The Enemy is a story set in Japan during the second world war. In this story, an injured American army man washes up on the beach near the home of a Japanese surgeon, Dr. Sadao Hoki. Although he has lived in America and follows a modern profession, Dr Sadao’s family lives a traditional Japanese life.
Dr Sadao is in a dilemma to leave the American man to die, to throw him back into the sea, to hand him over to the army or to save his life. He reluctantly takes him home and decides to save his life. The presence of an enemy disrupts his family life. His wife is against his idea of operating upon and taking care of the soldier. The servants of the house oppose the idea and leave their master. Yet, Dr Sadao shelters him, operates upon him, and saves his life.
Out of the fear of being accused of sheltering an enemy, he narrates the incident to a general in the Japanese military. The general helps Dr Sadao and offers to get the man killed by hired killers. However, the killing doesn't take place, and after waiting for three nights, Dr. Sadao thinks of getting rid of the American himself. He arranges a boat for the man to help him reach the nearby island. He provides him necessities like food and clothing to survive till he finds a Korean fishing boat which could rescue him. Dr. Sadao wonders that why did he save the life of an enemy.
Questions and Answers
1. There are moments in life when we have to make hard choices between our roles as private individuals and as citizens with a sense of national loyalty. Discuss with reference to the story you have just read.
A. Dr. Sadao is trapped in a dilemma. On one hand, being a doctor having moral and ethical responsibility to save the wounded soldier and on the other hand, being a patriot, to let the enemy die or hand him over to the army. He fulfils his ethical responsibility, saves the man, risks his own life, his family, reputation and then later, as a patriot plans to get him killed with the help of the army general. Later on again, he helps him escape which reflects his true personality.
2. Dr Sadao was compelled by his duty as a doctor to help the enemy soldier. What made Hana, his wife, sympathetic to him in the face of open defiance from the domestic staff?
A. Hana firmly follows her husband’s sense of duty although she knows that her husband’s decision is being questioned by everyone. She is humanitarian and compassionate and goes beyond her duty to perform the tasks which she is not supposed to. It is her care that helps the man recover quickly. She respects her husband and has a sense of duty towards him.
3. How would you explain the reluctance of the soldier to leave the shelter of the doctor’s home even when he knew he couldn’t stay there without risk to the doctor and himself?
A. Sadao and Hana had treated the American man with a lot of kindness and warmth. The man had suffered severely at the hands of the Japanese army as he had been made a prisoner of war. This warm attitude of Sadao and Hana gave him so much relief that he did not want to leave their house. The man felt at home – safe and warm. So, even though they were at risk at the hands of the army and the people of Japan, the man was reluctant to leave them.
4. What explains the attitude of the General in the matter of the enemy soldier? Was it human consideration, lack of national loyalty, dereliction of duty or simply self-absorption?
A. All his life the general had performed his duties with utmost sincerity. He realized that killing innocent men had become a burden on his soul. He understood Sadao’s mindset which indicated that he wanted to save a life irrespective of the fact that he was from an enemy country. The general also considered him to be a human being and so, excused Sadao to save his life.