Episode 8: Birth of a life the reverse of history
It is the autumn of 1867. Ryoma runs about every day as he works towards the return of political power to the emperor. Kyotaro lies to his superior that Ryoma and Jinyudo have cut ties with each other, but is ordered to continue investigating Ryoma’s movements.
Meanwhile, the date of Ryoma’s assassination weighs on Jin’s mind. His impression is that it took place during the cold season. Therefore, he surmises that it should be at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. He also tries hard to make sense of the words he had heard Miki say in his dream. In the end, the best he can do for Ryoma is to prepare him for what is to come by writing him a warning to be careful in Kyoto’s winter, while bracing himself against a headache. Even so, he remains anxious, but cannot leave Jinyudo to search for Ryoma because of Nokaze.
Nokaze’s condition has added to his worries. Her lump is metastatic and she is waiting to give birth. Meanwhile, Saki visits a midwife for Nokaze’s sake and goes through a period of hard work so that she can help with the birth as much as possible. She has become a pillar of strength for Jin in times of self-doubt, and makes him realise that instead of fretting about how history might undo what he does, it is his wishes that matter because they will not change.
“The future I wish for,
is the birth of Nokaze’s child and Miki’s reincarnation.
And to create a history where Sakamoto Ryoma is not assassinated.
All I need to do is to create the future I want with these hands.
Because being history doesn’t mean it cannot be changed.”
In the midst of this, Ryoma is brought before Saigo and questioned about the petition for the restoration of imperial rule that the lord of Tosa domain had submitted. He lies that it is a grand farce because there is no way the Tokugawas would accept when they have not lost the war yet. If it is not accepted, it will give them the opening to raise an army to overthrow the shogunate with force. He claims that he did not confide in Saigo because to trick the enemy, one must first start with one’s friends. But Saigo has other ideas. He catches Ryoma in his lie when he announces that they will raise an army since they have obtained imperial sanction to overthrow the shogunate, and Ryoma responds by trying to persuade him that violence is not the best way to create a new country. He argues that Japan could also become a colony should the major powers take advantage of the internal strife. However, this falls on deaf ears and the two men part acrimoniously.
One day, it is learnt that Nokaze’s foetus is in a breech position and that it would prove to be dangerous for her to give birth as things are now. With the assistance of Fukuda and Saki, Jin tries to turn the foetus through chiropractic therapy and moxibustion (a traditional Chinese medical practice that involves burning mugwort over an acupuncture point near the toes), but Nokaze suddenly goes into labour.
15 hours pass and Nokaze is still in labour. Only the baby’s hand has emerged. Worryingly, both her pulse and breathing have quickened, and it appears that she will not be able to hold out for long. Jin knows she wishes to have the child even if it means having to give up her own life. Nevertheless, he makes the decision to sacrifice the baby in order to save Nokaze. Saburi protests, but Jin refuses to take a gamble on her endurance and insists that of the two, the only one they can save for certain is Nokaze.
Nokaze is moved into the operating room, but immediately senses something is not right from Saki’s apprehensive expression and Jin’s forced smile. She glares accusingly at Jin, and demands that he cut open her belly to take the baby out. If anesthesia is harmful to the child, she can do without it.
“I used to be like a caged bird in the district.
I couldn’t go where I liked,
and I couldn’t meet the people I wanted to see.
But this child is different.
She will be able to run about the hills and fields,
walk alongside her beloved,
She can live as if she were a bird in the sky.
Please don’t take away my dream!!!”
Jin wavers and finally relents when Nokaze vows that she will not die until she holds her baby.
The Caesarean operation begins. Nokaze struggles to endure the pain as Jin cuts through the connective tissue between the bladder and lower section of the uterus. Once the fetal membrane is exposed and an incision is made, Jin puts his hand in and takes out the baby. Their relief at the child’s birth is marred by the realisation that it is not crying. Saki hurriedly turns the baby upside down and starts beating its buttocks. An agonisingly long moment passes before it spits out water and starts to cry.
Saki turns around to show the baby girl to Nokaze, but discovers that she has lost consciousness and has no pulse. There is bleeding from her womb as a result of disseminated intravascular coagulation, which prompts memories of what had happened to Ohatsu to cross Jin’s mind. His worst fears are coming true. In desperation, he starts to give Nokaze a cardiac massage as he berates her lifeless form. These words seem to get through to Nokaze for she comes to life again just as Saburi locates the spot where she is haemorrhaging.
Nokaze makes a rapid recovery. Several days later, Lelong presents their daughter with a silver spoon engraved with the name ‘Ange’. As a happy Nokaze explains to everyone at Jinyudo that the spoon is given in celebration of birth in Western culture, Jin finally recalls that Miki had said that Sakamoto Ryoma died on his birthday.
Jin dashes off to find out Ryoma’s birthdate from Katsu, who informs him that imperial rule was restored on the 15th. Jin cannot hide his shock at how rapidly the events have unfolded. Then, Katsu shows him the petition that was based on Ryoma’s ideas and draws his attention to the ninth article which neither Katsu nor Okubo Ichio had taught. It calls for the creation of an insurance system to give everyone access to basic healthcare so that they can lead healthy lives. Jin has left his mark on history through Ryoma!
At that same moment, Higashi is pressing the blade of his sword against the neck of a sleeping Ryoma. “You’ll get killed, Sakamoto-san,” he says. Then, he sheathes his sword and looks up at the sky. “That’s enough, isn’t it, brother?”
Jin, who has learnt that Ryoma’s birthday is just one month away on 15 November, decides to go to Kyoto to see him. He tries to tell Saki what will happen to Ryoma, but is struck by a severe headache that causes him to collapse and clutch his head in pain.
On the other hand, Kyotaro’s superior shoves a letter at him. It is the warning that Jin wrote to Ryoma, which had been intercepted by one of his spies … …
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