The Pearl Diver
It is 1948 when a nineteen-year-old pearl diver, who later christens herself Miss Fugi, is discovered to have leprosy. Miss Fugi is forced to begin life anew at the Nagashima Island Leprosarium. Those separated from society due to leprosy do not always cease to be vibrant people; they can be as full of life as anyone else. Regrettably, the visible signs of the advanced stages of this awful illness do not inspire respect for any infected person. Through tiny glimpses, the leprosarium community proves to be a mirror of the social order outside. Miss Fugi’s skill in underwater swimming renders the short distance between Nagashima and the world beyond a manageable challenge. Brief visits and strolls along another world’s beach tempt her to escape into freedom. Keeping her secret visits a source of stress relief, Miss Fugi returns to those needing the care only she can deliver. The cure finally arrives, but society fails to let them return to society, making leprosy a continued stigma.
In reporting the history of Nagashima Leprosarium, the author compassionately and creatively tells of a diverse group of people brought together in exile by a common fatal illness. This study in human behavior and society will make readers consider their own value system. This is an easy-to-read story that will cling to one’s thoughts. Using clear and concise sentence structure, the story comes together as an outstanding representation of a time and people, one well worth reading by anyone not familiar with either.