With all the anger I’m seeing and hearing after the attacks in Mumbai, here’s a story, a little different, but maybe there’s some meaning for us as we look for healing in these terrorizing times: A long time ago in China, a girl named Li-Li got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law. In a very short time, Li-Li found she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all. Days and weeks passed.
Li-Li and her mother-in-law never stopped arguing and fighting. Finally, Li-Li decided to do something about it: She went to see her father’s good friend, Mr. Huang, who sold herbs, told him the situation and asked if he would give her some poison so she could solve the problem once and for all.
Mr Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs. He told Li-Li, ‘You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious Therefore, I have given you a number of herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body. Every other day prepare some delicious meal and put a little of these herbs in her serving. Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspect you, when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly towards her. ‘Don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen.’ Li-Li was happy. She thanked Mr. Huang and hurried home to start her plot of murdering her mother-in-law.
Weeks and months went by, and every other day, Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother.
After six months had passed, the whole household had changed. Li-Li had practiced controlling her temper so much she found she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn’t had an argument with her mother-in-law in six months because she now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with.
The mother-in-law’s attitude toward Li-Li changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. One day, Li-Li came to see Mr Huang and asked for his help again She said, ‘Dear Mr. Huang, please help me to keep the poison from killing my mother-in-law. She’s changed into such a nice woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave her.’ Mr Huang smiled and nodded his head. ‘Li-Li, there’s nothing to worry about. I never gave you any poison.
The herbs I gave you were vitamins to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude toward her, but that has been all washed away by the love you gave her.’ There is a wise Chinese saying: ‘The person who loves others will also be loved in return.’ Like I said, there’s a message for us here, in these troubled times..!