THE ENEMY by Pearl S. Buck (Catch the full story here: The_Enemy )
This story traces right back to the time of World War and focuses on Dr. Sadao Hoki, a renowned surgeon in Japan and how one incident changes him and his decisions takes in ambiguous turns. A Japanese surgeon living on serving his life to the Japanese army and well connected to the General and his people, finds an American soldier in front of his doorstep in dying state, washed ashore. Should he give his professionalism as a doctor a priority and save the American’s life or as a patriot hand him over to the Army to finish him off?
The tale starts with Sadao’s life story going further several years back to his childhood and while he was on the stepping stones of becoming a doctor. Sadao lives in a square stone house in the Japanese coast, enjoying all worldly pleasures yet living a saintly life. Living in a grand mansion having a bunch of servants who served them for generations, Sadao was not confined to anything even with a father who was stern and orthodox in his teachings and his ways of living, there was no limit to what he could achieve. He was sent to America to study medicine with a promise to his father that he would come back successful and yet stick to his roots. Sadao assumed himself really lucky that as a foreign student he was treated equally and with hard work and diligence in abundance, he became famous in his line of work over the years. And if he couldn’t get any luckier, he also mentions that he first chanced upon his present wife, the girl of his dreams at a professor’s house at an arbitrary place of time. Hana, his wife was also Japanese and only after confirmation was she approved by his father for their marriage only because she belonged to the same race. Coming back to the present, all of this is recalled by Sadao mindfully as he holds his wife’s hand, the happily married couple with two children in the same square stone house, his father has died a few years ago.
A picture-perfect story takes a turn when both of them witness a man washed ashore in front of their doorstep in a dying state. They refer to him as the “white man”. Sadao identifies him as a sailor from the American warship, the U.S. Navy, an American soldier who serves his nation and is the enemy to Sadao and his patriotism. Sadao who takes no time to ponder upon some important facts, eyes upon the “white man’s” wound and acts upon treating it with his expert surgeon fingers. Sadao and Hana look upon him for quite a while till he turns stable. Over days, the Japanese couple debate on what would happen to them if they were caught sheltering a white man, with their patriotism on the line. If they handed over the prisoner, he would be tried and killed thereafter. They couldn’t be uncivilized enough to throw him back to the sea either. As secretly as they withheld this information, gradually the American prisoner came to their servants’ notice, and defying towards all decisions made by the doctor couple, tied their belongings and made their way out after serving for generations in the household.
Sadao and Hana on their own, nurses the white man till he is recovered to his fullest terms and even he gets along with both of them over time. The couple have come at a point where they reached their limits and want to get rid of him in any way possible. An exhausted Sadao, one day makes his way to the Chief General who is suffering from a heart attack and needs to be attended to. After completion of his appointment, Sadao confesses to the General that about all these incidents. The General is at a stage where he cannot intend to arrest Sadao only given his skillfulness towards his profession and if he is executed behind bars there would be no one to take care of him. The General is self-obsessed and simply in a state of self-absorption. He although tries to be helpful to Sadao and gives him an idea that he would let loose a pack of private assassins to finish off the white man. Sadao waits patiently for days, but nothing happens subsequent to which on the next meeting, the General admits to his carelessness though denying his dereliction of duty.
Sadao finally takes a decision to quietly set free the white man on a small boat hoping he would catch a bigger row boat and find his way out, equipping him with basic requirements and SOS calls in case of a turn of event, thus ending things in mixed intentions but finally realizing that it was the best decision in the most difficult circumstances.