Once upon a time, on the west end of
Tokyo, lived a good doctor by the name of Genzai. He was an experienced and skilled physician with quite a number
of patients. He owned the only
reputable clinic on that side of Tokyo, and patients would come from far to
seek treatment. It was a modest clinic,
maybe even a little small for such a popular clinic, but the care one received
from him was no less than excellent.
The front yard of the clinic was well tended, with many potted bonsai
trees, flowering lilacs and fruiting trees of apple. The backyard was the source of all his medical secrets: a garden of medicinal herbs of all varieties
grew in rows, and by the fences grew tomatoes, eggplants and peppermint. His clinic opened early and was open to
everybody, prince and pauper alike. As
this was the case, there was usually a long wait to see the good doctor. Age comes with experience, and age he had
much. At times he would feel the
overwhelming load of patients take its toll on his aging back. For several weeks he feared the need to
limit his clinic hours, until a blessing from heaven gave him a young and
intelligent assistant by the name of Takani Megumi.
She was educated in the disciplines of
medicine, much to the joy of the old doctor.
She made it easier to attend to every patient; astute and quick on her
feet, she knew how to prepare medicines from herbs that grew in the clinic's
Not only was she a wonderful doctor,
she was also a strikingly beautiful woman.
So it wasn't a surprise to the old doctor to find his clinic flooded
with patients whose only ailment was an urgent need to see her beautiful
face. It was easy to pick out those who
were truly ill among those who were entranced by the younger doctor's
charms. Among those who regularly came
to see her was a tall, strong man by the name of Sagara Sanosuke.
A few years her junior, Sagara was
known among the townspeople as the rogue of Tokyo. He has been in and out of bars, and even more gambling joints in
the west end of Tokyo. Feared for his
powerful fists, most men who crossed his path thought it easier to be amicably
acquainted with him rather than make an enemy of him. Tall and formidable, waitresses and ladies who pass him by often
exchanged hushed admiration for the carefree rogue.
Once in a while he would be provoked
into a brawl initiated by a drunk patron of a bar. These fights usually last but a few seconds, and everyone knew
who won. Sometimes his drunken
opponents would fall to the floor sleeping even before his fist could touch
them. At other times, they weren't so
It was never good for his challengers
or him to use his fists. Many months
before, he injured his right hand, which broke all except the bones of his
wrist. Every time he got into a fight,
he often bruised his hand, and at times he broke a few bones altogether.
It was then necessary to see the lady
"Megumi," the old doctor chimed
lightheartedly, "Sanosuke is here to see you!"
Much to her dismay, his visits never
made the treatments on his hand easy.
He was playfully sarcastic, and often provoked the lady doctor to
exchange biting words with the rogue.
She was always cool and collected when she spoke, and it was amusing for
him to see this trait of hers unruffled.
"I know I may be wasting my breath,
but let me teach you a little anatomy lesson, Sanosuke."
"Oh, really? Which body are we learning from?
She gave the bandage a forceful yank
before fastening it midway to his forearm.
"You're supposed to relieve the pain,
not inflict it! Hey, where are you
She briefly left the room and came
back with a piece of paper and pencil in hand.
Sitting directly in front of him, she drew a picture of a hand against
the top surface of her little medicine cabinet. "Let's pretend this is the back your hand."
"What? No way. My hand is much
better looking than that."
"Humor me, Sanosuke."
Putting her irritation aside, she
"On top of the bones you bruised
today run these strong elastic bands called tendons. They help to extend your fingers, let's say like opening your
fist." She drew lines that ran through
the middle of each finger diagram. Then
she drew another hand.
"Now let's pretend this is your hand
with the palm facing us. Deep within
your hand are many muscles, and there are also tendons that attach to the bones
on this side. They help you make a
fist. Do you understand so far?"
After hearing his grunt, she
"Sano, the reason why it is so
difficult for your hand to heal is because you keep bruising them. You're lucky you didn't break a bone again,
but these bruises are not to be taken lightly.
Hm, how do I explain this…"
His interest peaked; he patiently
waited for her to go on.
"All right. Have you seen Dr. Genzai wrap wires around and bend the little
trunks of the bonsai plants outside?"
"Yeah, I've seen him do it. It's to bend the trunks, right?"
"Correct. Let's say the bones in your hand are the little trunks. Dr. Genzai often applies force to bend the
trunks and then reinforces the trunks with the wires to prevent them from
bending back. When your hand," she
said, taking his hand into hers and pointing at the tendons, "hits something
hard, like a man's face, it takes the same amount of force you used to hit the
face with. What do you think takes on
He groaned. "My bones."
"Right. So there's your force.
Now the wires. Your tendons
usually stay fixed, and when I say 'usually', I mean when you don't abuse them
like you do. These tendons are like
wires. When your bones take on forces,
your tendons are still attached to them.
When you hit something forcefully, it knocks bone joints out of place
even though your tendons are still attached.
If not tended to, your bones will stay out of place and your tendons can
hold them out of place. You complain
that it hurts every time I treat you.
Well, it's because I have to knock your bones back correctly into the
joints and stabilize them with the bandage."
He looked down in his hand still held by her firm grasp. "And here I thought you were just trying to
"Well, that's free of charge, not like
you pay for your treatments or anything…"
"Hey, I would, but—"
"But for some funny reason, I can't
find my money every time I come visit you."
"That's because you're a lousy
He opened his mouth but couldn't find
the words with which to retort. He knew
she was right. Damn it, bested
"Sanosuke, do you always have to
"If insulted, yes. I've got my honor to defend."
She laughed. "Are you sure it's not your big ego you're defending?"
"You just like being the bane of my
life, don't you?" With a mean stare
then a smile, "but you know what? I
don't mind at all…"
"But my long list of patients
does." Standing up, she scribbled a few
characters on the paper, folded and handed it to him. "Today's lesson is over.
Lay off the hand, okay?"
With a grunt, he got up, stowed the
paper in his pocket and walked to the door.
Before he walked off, he looked over his shoulder. "Megumi, you're a very good doctor. Thanks for the lesson." With a wink, he was gone.
Surprised at the compliment, she
tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and consciously looked around, afraid that
someone might notice the flush in her cheeks.
Outside the clinic on his way back to
the apartment, he took the note from his pocket and looked over his hand
diagram. He remembered every word she
said as his eyes followed the lines of the tendons on the paper. As his eyes trailed down, he saw the doctor's
beautiful handwriting in the corner.
"Don't forget, Chicken-head."
He smiled as he folded the paper back
neatly into his pocket and whistled his way down the street.