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Monday, May 30, 2011

Fistful of gratitude

Okuno was an old fisherman who lived in a tiny village by the river in North Japan. His wife Aoi was a thin frail 60 year old woman. Okuno left in the morning, went by the river, caught little fish, sold it to the village vendor and bought liquor and rice.

Aoi knew of him well, she tried hard to save some money for a rainy day but his habits did not allow her that margin. It was a poverty ridden life with half filled stomachs and frosty cold weather.
She cooked rice frugally and survived mostly on left over catch that Okuno brought home, by the end the week the rationed rice ran out. The last fistful of rice she carried to the river and threw it in the water and the next day Okuno caught plenty of fish and made enough money to buy more rice for coming week.

The ritual continued till Aoi got really sick one day. She had no strength left in her body to take care of the house and Okuno. He was working hard now, he left early in the morning to catch fish, returned home by the afternoon to cook a meal for his wife and himself. When he started running out of rice, he mentioned his helplessness to Aoi. She asked him take take the last fistful of rice by the river and offer it to the fish.
He did not understand her reasoning, he told her " you are sick and I don't have enough money to buy more rice, why do you want me to throw the last bit into the river?"

Aoi said "My grandmother told my mother once 'When we give back what we receive from nature with gratitude in our heart, the universe showers us with more".
"I have been doing this for last forty years of our lives, when the last bit of rice is left in our reserves. I go by the river and offer it to the fish and river, thanking them for providing food on our plates, Next morning by some unspoken rule, you caught more fish and brought rice home for the next week, this has been going on for last 40 years".

Okuno kissed her ailing wife's forehead, knowing the last bits of loving wisdom from her would keep him warm in harsh winter to come.

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