A Promise Fulfilled

Posted to Wundee on 28 Mar 2001-03-28
This story was written in the 1930s by Osamu Dazai, a writer of highly
autobiographical stories.

"A Promise Fulfilled

   This is something that happened four years ago. I was spending the summer 
at Mishima in Izu, staying in a room on the second floor of an acquaintance's
house... one night, in the course of riding a bicycle through the streets of the
town, drunk, I suffered an injury... The town doctor was a portly man of thirty-
two... He was very drunk. When he wobbled into the consultation room in a 
condition that clearly rivaled mine, it struck me as terribly funny, and as he
treated my wound I began to giggle. The doctor soon joined in...
We were good friends from that night on. The doctor preferred philosophy 
to literature, and since I, too, felt more at ease with that subject, our
discussions were always lively. The doctor's view of the world... He saw in all
worldly matters manifestations of the struggle between Good and Evil, and
this allowed him to explain everything in admirably clear and concise terms.
.. One of his illustrations, for example- that he himself, who immediately
called his wife to bring beer whenever I visited them at night, was Good,
whereas his wife, who would smilingly suggest that tonight, instead of
drinking beer, we play bridge, was a true representative of Evil- struck me as
flawless, and I had to concur...
   ..I would drop by for thirty minutes or an hour almost every day during my
morning walk... At about the same hour, a young woman would sometimes
come to the doctor's house for medicine. There was always something
refreshingly clean and healthy about her, in her light summer dress and
geta clogs, and I would often hear her and the doctor talking and laughing
together in the consultation room. Occasionally, however, the doctor would
accompany her to the door as she left and call out after her in a scolding
tone of voice, 'It's only a question of persevering a little bit longer, young
   The doctor's wife explained it all to me one day. The woman was married
to a primary school teacher who'd developed a lung problem some three
years before and whose condition had just recently begun to show marked
improvement. The doctor had spared no effort in making it clear to the
young wife, however, that certain things were still strictly forbidden, 
reminding her that now was a crucial time in her husband's convalescence.
She faithfully obeyed his commands, but there were, nonetheless, times
when one look at her would be enough to move anyone to pity. It was then
that the doctor would steel his heart and scold her, saying it was only a 
question of a little more perseverance...
   One morning near the end of August, I witnessed something beautiful. I
was sitting on the veranda, reading the newspaper, when the doctor's wife,
who sat nearby with her feet tucked up beside her, whispered, 'Ah! She
looks happy, doesn't she?'
   I glanced up and saw a radiant figure in a light summer dress walking
briskly along the narrow lane before us, her clogs scarcely seeming to
touch the earth, her white parasol spinning round and round.
   'The ban was lifted this morning,' the doctor's wife whispered..."