The Enemy - Summary

The story starts with the description of the house of a Japanese doctor, Dr. Sadao Hoki, who is the main character. The house is built of stone and is situated by a beach that was outlined with bent pine trees. As a child, he used to climb those trees like he had seen men do to get coconuts on some islands in the South Seas when his father used to take him there. He used to tell him that those islands were the stepping stones for the future of Japan.
Sadao did everything his father told him when he was a child as his father used to take a lot of pains for everything related to Sadao especially his education. Sadao was sent to America at the age of twenty-two to become a doctor. He had come back to Japan at the age of thirty and before his father died, he had become a famous surgeon and a scientist. It was because of his research that he wasn’t sent abroad with the troops at the time of the war. The other reason was that the general of the Japanese army was old and might have needed an operation for a medical condition he had.
One day, it was quite foggy and misty and the fog had hid the outlines of a small island near the shore and was progressing towards his house. He was to go to his wife and kids in the house but, instead, his wife, Hana, came to the veranda where he was sitting and looking out. He had met her in America and fell in love after confirming that she too was Japanese. He had met her at the house of a professor who was quite keen to help out foreign students. But, they did not get married in America and completed their studies, came back to Japan, and got married in the traditional Japanese way after his father approved of her.
She had just come near him when they saw a figure appearing out of the mist and fog. It was a man who staggered a few steps before getting covered by mist again. Hana cried out and they leaned over the railing of the veranda and saw him again crawling on his knees and hands before falling down on his face. Sadao said it is probably a fisherman washed from his boat and thrown on the beach by the waves. They got concerned as the beach was spiked with rocks and the man must have gotten badly injured passing through them. When they went near him, they found out that they were right and the man was badly wounded.
When they turned the unconscious man over, they found out that he was a white man. His wet cap fell away and showed his blonde hair and he had a rough blonde beard too. Sadao checked his wound and found that it was a gun wound. The man had been shot a few days ago and the wound had not been tended and it was probably hit by a rock at the beach.
There was no one on the beach at that time of the day and Sadao wondered what they should do with the man. He immediately picked some sea moss from the beach and packed the wound with it to stop the bleeding. He said that the best thing they could do was to put him back into the sea and Hana agreed to it. He said that if they sheltered a white man in their house, they would be arrested and if they turned him over to the army, he would be killed. Hana again agreed with him but neither moved to do so. He said that he looked American and he picked up the man’s cap and found out that he was a sailor from the U.S. Navy. Hana realized that the man was a prisoner of war who had escaped somehow and was shot in the back while trying to escape and Sadao agreed.
They asked each other if they were ready to put him back into the sea but neither was ready to. Sadao said that had he been a normal person, he would have turned him over to the police immediately as he considered all Americans as enemies. But, since he was wounded, he could not do so. Hana said that they must take him inside the house then. Sadao was worried about the servants and Hana said that they would tell them that they intended to give him to the police and said that they should indeed hand him over considering the fact that it would put them and their children into danger if they did not hand him over. Sadao agreed with her.
They lifted the man who was very light as if he had been half-starved for long time. They carried him up the steps and through the side door of the house, they took him to an empty bedroom. That bedroom was Sadao’s father’s and had not been used since his death. Hana said that he was dirty and Sadao asked her to fetch some hot water so that he may wash him up. Hana said that she would ask one of the servants to do that. He agreed and asked her to inform that servant while he would inform the rest of the servants.
But before going, Sadao checked his pulse and said that he would die unless he was operated upon. Hana got scared and asked what would happen if he survived. Sadao said that he might even die during the operation. Hana was still thinking about what should be done when Sadao said that something must be done and asked Hana to get him washed up. They went out of the room and Hana called one of the servants, Yumi, from the nursery where she was looking after the kids. But, the kids heard her and she had to go inside to help Yumi to put the kids to bed.
Then, she took Yumi to the kitchen and explained the situation to her and the other servant, an old gardener. The two of them got frightened at what they were told and said that they should not help the enemy. But, she asked Yumi to bring hot water to the room where he lay. Once there, she asked her to wash up the man but Yumi refused to do so stubbornly. Hana ordered her and, then, requested her but she refused to budge.
Hana decided to wash the man herself as she could not force the servants lest they may inform the police about them keeping a white man in their house. She cleaned the upper body but could not find the courage to turn him over and clean the back.
Sadao entered the room just as Hana called out to him. He wore his surgeon’s coat and had brought his surgeon’s emergency bag as he had decided to operate. He took his instruments out and asked Hana to fetch some towels. She got the towels and went out to get some old matting to prevent the man’s blood from ruining the floor covering. But, it was of no use as his blood had already seeped through the mat under him.
Sadao started to wash his back and Hana told him that Yumi had refused to wash the man and that she had to do that. He told her that she would have to give the anesthetic if required. She said that she had never done it but he said that it was easy and he would tell her how to do it. He took out the packing of sea moss from the wound and blood began to flow quickly. He found out that the bullet was still there and if the rock wound wasn’t deep, he could get the bullet. But he had lost a lot of blood.
While he was peering into the wound using his instruments, he heard a choking sound from Hana. He looked at her and asked her not to faint. She clapped a hand to her mouth and ran out of the room and Sadao heard her retching sounds coming from the garden. She had never seen an operation and it was too much for her.
Sadao kept working swiftly and kept talking to himself till Hana came back inside. She asked for the anesthetic and Sadao said it was good she was back as the man had begun to stir. She asked him how to proceed and he gave her instructions. She crouched close to the face of the American to give him the anesthetic. Looking at him, she wondered if the stories she had heard about sufferings of the prisoners were true. She did not want to believe them but when she remembered how General Takima behaved cruelly with his wife at home, she could not help but wonder how he must behave with his prisoners. She hoped that the man had not been tortured but saw red scars on his neck and asked Sadao about them but he was busy with operating on the man and ignored her. He had located the bullet and was trying to take it out. He was murmuring to the man like he did to all his patients while he operated upon them and called him his friend without realizing he was talking to his enemy.
The man started muttering something and then fell unconscious again. Sadao checked his pulse, found a weak one, and gave him an injection that improved his pulse. Sadao told Hana that the man would live.
The young man woke up after some time and was terrified to see where he was. Hana had to serve him herself as the servants refused to do so. He was scared when she went in the room for the first time and was surprised when Hana spoke English. She told him that she had spent some time in America. She fed him gently and said a few words to comfort him. On the third day, Sadao entered the room to find the man sitting up in the bed and Sadao shouted at him to lie down again. He helped him down and checked the wound and scolded him that he might kill himself by doing such a thing. The man asked him if they would hand him over to the police. Sadao said he didn’t know what he would do though he ought to do so as he was a prisoner of war. The man wanted to say something but Sadao stopped him.
When he came out of the room, Hana told him that the servants wanted to leave as they were keeping the enemy in the house and could not understand that he was just helping him out as a doctor.
The servants grew contemptuous and the gardener said to the cook that Sadao ought to give up the man while the cook said that Sadao was so proud of his surgical skills that he had to save any life. Yumi was concerned about the fate of the kids if Sadao was imprisoned for being a traitor. Hana heard their talks as they did not even try and hide it from her. She agreed with them in part that he was trouble for their family.
Sadao examined the wound everyday and soon had removed all the stitches, which meant the man would have become well in a fortnight. That day, he went to his office and started typing a letter to the chief of police but typed it only partially stating that a prisoner had washed up on their shore on 21st February.
Seven days after that, the servants left the house as a group in the morning. They cried while Hana paid them off and thanked them for their services. It was uncomfortable for them too as they had been in that house for years. Hana did all the work herself while Sadao helped with the kids.
Hana asked him as to what should they do with the prisoner. Sadao did not answer but went to the man and asked to start trying to stand and take a step or two so that he may get his strength as quickly as possible.
The man thanked Sadao for saving his life but Sadao told him not to thank him and the man got scared. In the afternoon, Hana saw a messenger in official uniform come to their door. She got scared and ran in to Sadao who was in his office and the messenger followed her.
The messenger told Sadao that the old General was in pain again and Sadao was needed at the palace.
After assuring Hana that he will find a way to get rid of the man, Sadao went to the palace.
At the palace, after treating the General, Sadao told him all about the man at his house. The General said he understood him and that he will make sure Sadao is not arrested as he needed Sadao for his health.
The General said that it would be best if they killed the man quietly instead of arresting him. He said he had private assassins who worked for him and he would send two of them in the night to kill that man. He asked Sadao to leave the outer partition of the man’s room open. He said he would even get the body removed. Sadao agreed to whatever the General said and left.
He decided that he would tell Hana nothing as she would get scared. When he reached home, he went into the room where the American was and was surprised to find the man standing and preparing to go into the garden.
He chided the man but as soon as the man started talking about stiffness of muscles, he forgot everything and started examining him. The man thanked him again and said he had never met a Japanese man like him and had all Japanese been like him, there wouldn’t have been a war.
Sadao took him back to the bed and left. But, he could not sleep well that night as he expected the assassins to come. Next morning, he went to the American’s room to check and found that he was still there and sleeping nicely. He told Hana that the nice sleep meant that he was almost well. Hana asked again about what should they do and Sadao said he will decide in a day or two.
That night, Sadao was absolutely sure that the assassins would strike but the American was still there the next morning. The third night, they heard a loud noise of something crashing and Sadao thought the assassins must have finally did their work but the American was still there the next morning and, in fact, was feeling a lot better.
Seeing that, Sadao told the man that he could take their boat with food and extra clothing and row to the little island near the coast as nobody lived there. He could stay there till he saw a Korean boat pass by and he could get on it. He told the man that his presence at their house is not a secret anymore due to which the man agreed to his idea.
During the day, Sadao made necessary purchases and placed everything in the boat and tied the boat to a post in the water. But, when he reached home, he acted as if he was just back from work to avoid telling Hana anything. That night, he checked the American properly before going to bed and the American told him that he was saving his life again.
Sadao gave him his flashlight and told him to signal if his food ran out before he caught a boat. He gave him Japanese clothes to wear and wrapped a black cloth over his head to hide his blonde hair.
A few days later, after operating upon the General again, he told him that the man had escaped from his house. During that time, the servants had come back to the house and Yumi had cleaned the guest room thoroughly.
The General said that he had forgotten about getting the man killed due to his ill-health. He told Sadao that if the word about the man ever came out, Sadao should tell everyone that it wasn’t dereliction of duty but ill-health and promised Sadao that he would be rewarded for that.
Later that night, Sadao looked in the direction of the sea and realized that the man was no longer on the island. He stood in his veranda and thought about the time he had spent in America and about all the Americans that he knew about like his anatomy teacher, the professor at whose house he met Hana, and his landlady who let her house to him when others did not and even nursed him through influenza in his last year of studies. Americans did not like Japanese and yet those people helped him. Then, he wondered why he could not kill the American man or probably realized why he could not.

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