The Wise Witch


"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." ~ William Shakespeare

Once upon a time, in ancient Japan, there was a pair of daughter and mother in-laws who shared the same kitchen and used to fight about everything every day.

The fights got so bruising that the daughter in law wished for the older woman's death. She did not want to bear the wrath of her husband and be accused of murder though, so she went to the Wise Witch of the Mountain for solution.

The Wise Witch paid close attention to her story, sympathized with the daughter in-law and gave her a pot of poisonous lotion to lather on her mother in law daily for a whole month.

"How can I lather it on her? She would bite my hands off."

"Feign that you are giving her a massage," said the Witch. "Do it daily. The poison will take effect inconspicuously. Nobody will notice your intent, but she will be dead within the month."

Happily, the daughter in-law did as she was bid. Every evening that followed, the two embittered women set their hackles aside; allowing the younger to give and the older to receive massage.

Within the week, the older woman's nagging vehemence subsided, and the daughter in-law celebrated her approaching reign upon the kitchen.

By the second week, their relationship became so amicable that the changes began to affect the daughter's mind too.

On the third week, the daughter returned to the Wise Witch and cried miserably at her feet. "Please, give me the antidote to your poison," she said. "Ever since I started massaging her old body, I have become fond and cannot bear the thought of losing my dear mother in-law."

The Wise Witch of the Mountain shook her head sadly. "There is no remedy for kindness, child. The that thing which you apply on her is an ordinary lotion. It was the exchange of physical contact, which you gave and she graciously accepted in a massage, that healed between you what words could not."

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