Episode 7: Eternal love and separation
Jin returns to Edo from Nagasaki in disagreement with Ryoma. At that moment, Kyotaro, who has been ordered by his superior to investigate all matters related to Ryoma, begins visiting Jinyudo repeatedly in order to probe. He warns Jin to refrain from socialising with Ryoma until the public unrest dies down because Ryoma is now considered an enemy of the shougunate. When Saki is alone with Jin, she advises him not to tell her brother too much about Ryoma.
Jin tries once again to recall when Ryoma was assassinated but cannot remember accurately. All he knows is that it was between the time after the restoration of imperial rule and the start of the Meiji era. He suddenly thinks of the memories of a dream he had had of Miki at a hospital ward in the present day, and wonders why she had said, “It’s the same as Sakamoto Ryoma. The day Ryoma died too … … ” Then he is seized by yet another headache, and desperately wonders if there is a way to thwart history’s ability to undo what he does.
The next day, Jin visits Katsu to enquire about the shogunate’s current situation. According to Katsu, a frank discussion about the country seems to be underway with Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the lords of the domains of Satsuma, Tosa, Echizen and Uwajima. He speculates that Satsuma’s aim is to lift Choshu’s punishment and to prepare to overthrow the shogunate with Choshu. Tosa’s presence is a clear signal of Ryoma’s involvement in the matter.
At that moment, two letters are delivered to Jinyudo. One is from a sender called Kitani Umetaro. Jin immediately recognises the handwriting to be Ryoma’s. The letter includes the photograph that Ryoma and Jin had taken at a studio in Nagasaki, and the back of the photograph bears the cryptic words: Will the worms emerging from the Japanese mountain yam, also build a nest in the Edo yam? Neither Jin nor Saki can make sense of the poem. Jin wonders aloud if Ryoma means that the people coming from Choshu and Satsuma will occupy Edo, unaware that Kyotaro is eavesdropping on this conversation … …
The other letter is addressed to Jin and Saki from Nokaze. She is to be legally married to Lelong and would like the two of them to come for her wedding ceremony. Jin’s joy at the news is in complete contrast to Saki’s conflicted look.
Jin and Saki travel to Yokohama’s foreign enclave to attend the wedding, but when they arrive down there, Jin is told by Nokaze that there is a patient who needs to be examined. He follows her into a room and grows alarmed to see her disrobe before him, still not understanding what this means until she tells him that she feels several lumps under her left armpit. Shock registers on his face as realisation sets in while Nokaze regards him with smile.
Jin examines Nokaze, his expression becoming more grave by the minute. He carefully tells her that if the swollen axillary lymph nodes are all a result of the metastastic lump, it has spread to ten locations. She guesses that her illness is highly advanced and he does not contradict her. Knowledge of the recurrence of Nokaze’s illness agonises Jin who apologises for not dissecting the lymph nodes thoroughly. However, it is the news of her pregnancy that deals him a double blow as she hopefully asks how long she can live. Told that the 2-year survival rate for metastatic breast cancer is 50%, she notes with a tearful smile that she will be able to carry her child, see his smile, hear his voice and maybe even link hands with him for a walk.
On the other hand, Jin confesses that as a doctor, he cannot possibly recommend that Nokaze have this child because pregnancy and birth will put a heavy strain on a mother’s body. She ought to discuss this with Lelong who is unaware of her illness, but she has made up her mind.
“This child is my dream, doctor.
I may not have long to live,
but this child will live for scores of years.
If this child has children,
my blood will continue to flow for 100 years, 200 years in my posterity.
I will continue to live forever in those lives,
become that child’s blood, flesh, eyes.
And I’ll be able to see … …”
The next morning, Saki notices Jin brooding at breakfast and learns about Nokaze’s predicament. Although a baby can be safely taken out through a Caesarean operation in modern times, it will be killed if anesthesia of the Edo era is used to do the surgery. So Saki suggests that the least they can do is to allow her to give birth at Jinyudo. Jin has no experience in obstetrics and thinks that the method that would put the least strain on Nokaze’s body is a natural childbirth assisted by a good midwife. He fears that she and her child will die right before his eyes, just as Ohatsu had … …
Later that day, Lelong and Nokaze, who are married at a church, emerge into the crowd of wellwishers which include Jin, Saki and Suzuya, the owner of the establishment where Nokaze had once been a courtesan. As Jin watches a happy Nokaze with Lelong, he recalls the surprise he had had at her resemblance to Miki during their first encounter. He wonders how much love he has received from her and whether he will even be able to help her to fulfill this single dream.
Seeming to sense the direction of Jin’s thoughts, Saki tells him that if Nokaze, a person of this era, were to possess a strong desire to change the future, then it would merely be history and no longer revised history.
“In all likelihood, Nokaze-san knows that you’ve come from the future,
and that the woman you love may be her own descendent.
That’s why she wishes to give birth to the child even though she’s laying her life on the line.
Of course, it is also the child of her beloved Lelong-san.
But it’s not just that.
Nokaze-san is probably trying to create the person who should meet you in the later centuries once more.
I believe heaven will not be so cruel as to crush such a dream.
Can you let me deliver Nokaze-san’s child?
So that it’ll have nothing to do with you and just be our own history.”
Back at Lelong’s residence, Jin informs Lelong and Nokaze of his intention to help her deliver their child. Lelong, who now knows of Nokaze’s illness, would rather not have her strain herself, but seeing her determination, he relents and puts her in the care of Jin and Saki.
On their way back to Jinyudo, Jin and Saki stop by at the teahouse at Asakusa where Kiichi serves them a new creation called the ko an donut, which is an donut filled with mochi rice cake. Its name somehow prompts Saki to think of the poem Ryoma had written on the back of that photograph and it occurs to her that he could have meant that the people coming from Choshu and Satsuma will save Edo instead of occupy Edo as they had initially interpreted. Jin perks up at this thought.
At Jinyudo, Jin discovers that he has received another letter from Ryoma. In it, Ryoma confides that he has been racking his brains to find a way to rebuild the country without warring. While he acknowledges the difficulty of doing so, he confesses that he has found inspiration from Nokaze whom he observes to have always lied to conceal her real intentions and protect what is important to her. He vows to become the biggest liar so that he can fool everyone and prevent the bright future that Jin had shown to him from being destroyed. These words make Jin smile to himself. He is about to put this letter into a box where he stores all other correspondence with Ryoma when he discovers that the earlier letter and postcard that Ryoma had sent has gone missing. Saburi discloses that he had thought it was just his imagination that a thief had come into Jinyudo one night because neither money nor medical instruments were taken.
At that same moment, the letter and postcard in question is being passed by Kyotaro to his superior along with Jin’s interpretation of Ryoma’s poem … …
While Jin visits Katsu to try to find out if Ryoma’s intention is to play a dangerous game, Ryoma meets with Goto Shojiro, a fellow Tosa samurai who has asked him for help to protect their domain from the fallout if the shogunate loses to Choshu. Ryoma muses that it will only be a matter time before Satsuma and Choshu obtain imperial sanction to overthrow the shogunate. When that happens, the two domains will be the winners, and the shogunate the loser. Tosa may be branded an enemy of the court and have no choice but to fight it. There is only one option for Tosa to turn this hopeless situation around. It is to restore imperial rule!
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