Episode 1: Stay gold
Mishima Tadashi returns from Paris to Japan for the first time in 16 years. His first instinct is to tap out the characters ‘Toyosaki Midori’ and search for her online. Even as he mentally notes to himself that there are no grounds for them to meet again, he cannot help thinking back to the spring of 1984 when he had stumbled upon her playing Stevie Wonder’s ‘Stay Gold’ on the piano while he and a friend searched for a hiding place from a rival school gang.
Mishima heads for Tohto Medical University Hospital. A liver surgeon said to have the hands of God, he has been brought in by his teacher, Professor Ebina Toru, for an operation. The patient is Professor Emeritus Okakura Soichiro, the man who had kicked him out of the hospital. But that appears not to concern Mishima who enters the operating theatre and completes the operation in a masterful display of his skills. The professor emeritus makes a quick recovery, and proposes to Mishima that they let bygones be bygones. He asks Mishima if he will stay on at the hospital, offering to let him head the second surgical department to the displeasure of the other doctors in hearing range. However, Mishima declines, stating that he has unfinished business in Paris.
Speech therapist Murakami Midori lives a happy life with her younger husband, Jun, the general manager of a life insurance company’s sales branch and their son, Kenta, a first grade elementary school student. One day, Jun is informed that the reading for Midori’s liver is abnormal in the medical examination she had undergone for the switch in insurance policies. He conveys this news to Midori and persuades her to go for a second examination at a bigger hospital immediately.
Several days later, Midori goes alone for the medical examination. Beside himself with worry, Jun makes his way to the hospital where he finds Midori admiring the cherry blossoms at a park nearby.
The news that the examination took a mere two minutes relaxes Jun and he concludes that the abnormal reading was a false scare. But as he takes Midori’s hand in his and turns to leave, she tugs back. Keeping her tone light she looks him in the eyes and says,” I’m sorry Jun-chan. I have cancer. There’s a 4 cm malignant tumour in my liver.” He stares at Midori speechless while she cheerfully reminds him that cancer is curable now. Then he wraps her in a fierce hug asking if she is really ok beneath the brave front she has put up. A tear rolls down Midori’s face … …
Jun learns from the doctor in charge that the surgery cannot be done at the hospital because Midori’s tumour is located at the caudal lobe of the liver where the blood vessels branch left and right haphazardly. The desperate search for a doctor who is able to do the operation starts. Before long, Jun finds one doctor from a guide on famous Japanese doctors … … the Paris-based Mishima Tadashi. Then, he chances on a magazine article bearing a full-page photograph of that same Mishima who is reported to have suddenly returned to Japan to perform a surgery on a professor emeritus. Learning that Mishima has successfully removed the caudal lobe of the liver, Jun makes his way to Tohto Medical University Hospital.
Chancing on Mishima along one of the hospital’s hallways, Jun beseeches him to do Midori’s operation before he returns to Paris but Mishima flatly rejects because he is leaving Japan the next day. Jun desperately thrusts a namecard in Mishima’s hands so that he can contact him the next time he returns to the country, and Mishima reluctantly takes it.
At that moment, Mishima is alerted to a sudden deterioration in the professor emeritus’ condition. By the time he arrives at the ward, Professor Emeritus Okakura’s vitals are a flatline. Mishima looks on in dismay.
It is learnt that the professor emeritus had suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage. Although his death was not due to an error on Mishima’s part, Mishima is persuaded to perform a successful surgery to restore his reputation and that of the hospital before he leaves. Professor Ebina protests against this suggestion. After all, the professor emeritus was of an advanced age, but Mishima decides to accept another operation to remove this “unpleasant aftertaste”.
And so, Jun receives a call from Mishima asking him to bring Midori to the hospital. He is so overjoyed by the news that he envelops her in a hug when he sees her, to the amusement of his father-in-law and friends.
Midori is brought to Tokyo to meet Mishima at Tohto Medical University Hospital. But as she glances at his side profile while he studies her X-rays, her jaw slackens. She stands up abruptly and staggers backwards. He is the person she least wants to see … … her first love who had broken her heart. They stare at each other for a long moment. “I don’t want to be your patient,” Midori tells him. Overcome with emotion, she runs out of the room. Jun chases after her, not understanding what has happened.
In the car, Midori tells Jun that she does not like the hospital, and offers to go to any other medical facility. It is then that she learns that Mishima is the only doctor who can operate on her and save her life. “What if I don’t have surgery? What will happen? Is my life expectancy going to be a year?” Midori wonders aloud and looks expectantly at a silent Jun who stares out of the car. However, she decides to live again for the sake of the family she loves.
The next day after Kenta’s school entrance ceremony, Midori waits outside the hospital for Mishima.
“Please save me.
Mishima-sensei, please operate on me.
I have a son.
He’s still young, and has just become an elementary school student.
He’s always demanding attention from me.
My husband is not dependable in some areas,
but he’s a very kind person.
I don’t want to die and leave the two of them behind.
I wish to live.
Please … … save me.”
At those words, Mishima walks right up to Midori. He cups her face with his two hands, in a gesture mirroring the actions of long ago. “I’ll do my best,” he softly tells her. But this gentle act belies his next words.
“It’ll be a 100% perfect surgery.
It’s not for the sake of you
or your family.
It’s to protect my career.”
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