The lesson "The Aged Mother," written by "Matsuo Basho," emphasises love bond between a mother and a son, as well as the wit of the elderly, in addition to understanding about despotic rulers. The plot is set in ancient Japan and revolves around a poor farmer and his aged, widowed mother. The poor farmer was caring for his mother, and they lived at the foot of the mountain.
The farmer's mother.jpg
The Farmer's mother
They had a small plot of land on which the farmer worked and earned food. They were humble people. Furthermore, despite their poverty, they enjoyed a happy and peaceful life.
Shining was the name of the nation where the poor, humble farmer and his mother lived. A dictatorial king who was also a skilled warrior governed the land. Though a warrior, he was a coward when it came to one thing. It was that he was afraid of anything that indicated ill-health and lack of strength because he believed it to be a weakness which might hinder the country's progress or be seen as a sign of shortcoming. As a result of this thought, he issued a terrible order to kill all the elderly people, whom he regarded as a symbol of weakness and ill-health, though it was not so.
Those were barbarous days, when people were not civilised enough to appreciate the value of life, and it was common practise to abandon the aged. In fact, it seemed that the tyrannical ruler's order had almost no impact on the people, as they did not raise objections to the order. However, subjects who think or act against the king's orders may find themselves in a life-or-death predicament.
The impoverished farmer, on the other hand, adored and respected his loving mother more than anything else in life. And so, the cruel ruler's order made him feel sad since he did not want his adoring mother to be killed.
After some time of thinking, with deep and hopeless sighs to save his mother, the poor farmer mentally prepared himself to carry out the king's command as no one had the courage to disobey the king's order. Still, he looked for various kind ways to carry out the king's order because he did not want to carry out the order harshly as he loved his mother. Finally, he chose the gentlest method of killing his mother.
Under the compulsion of the king's order, the poor farmer opted to abandon his beloved mother on a mountain. He chose to abandon her somewhere since he did not want her mother to die in an awful way.
Farmers used to pay taxes in the form of rice on those days. Despite the fact that half of the population ate white rice, unwhitened rice was left as a source of food for farmers, particularly the poor. So, after completing the day's work, the poor farmer cooked a large quantity of unwhitened rice, which was the poor people's main food, and wrapped it in a square cloth. He then swung the cloth and a gourd filled with cool, sweet water around his neck in a bundle.
Generally, storing water or food in gourds is an ancient habit. The farmer's use of cloth and gourds also implies a lack of utensils at home, indicating their poor condition.
After making arrangements for the food and water for his mother, the poor farmer lifted and tied his helpless, old mother on his back to take her to the mountain. He felt dejected while making preparations to abandon his lovable, helpless, aged mother, but he was in a compelling situation to do that. 
The poor farmer started his journey. The mountain road was not smooth. The road was long and steep; the narrow road was crossed and re-crossed by many paths made by hunters and woodcutters. And so, in some of the places, it was confusing. Still, the poor farmer continued to walk and reach the mountain, as he knew that leaving his mother on the mountain was one of the kindest ways of killing her. And so, he never wanted to return to his home with his mother since it may have led to her murder in a violent way.
It never mattered to him which road he chose. He climbed up the mountain, proceeding upward blindly without any second thought, thinking that he should not go back but continue forward. 'Obatsuyama' means "abandonment of the aged". According to the story, "Obatsuyama" refers to a mountain "where the aged are abandoned". The poor farmer was about to leave his mother in a desolate place, with a heavy heart, as he was in such a demanding situation.

The farmer's mother's eyesight was not dim but keen, despite her advanced age. Despite her inability to see clearly, she was able to notice her son's rush to reach the mountain summit without realising or understanding the consequences. Since the farmer was young, he was solely focused on achieving his goal, unaware of the consequences of how he would return home in the evening or at night. 


The farmer's mother, on the other hand, thought about it since her age and experience had led her to think so. She was well aware that her son was unfamiliar with the mountain's numerous pathways and that his return journey could be dangerous. As a result, she thought about a number of ways to ensure her son's safe return home. She then had an idea; she snapped the twigs from the trees along the route and gently dropped a handful of them every few feet as they climbed the mountain. As she planned, the twigs she dropped on the exact pathways formed a dotted line with tiny stacks of twigs at regular intervals. So, she knew that would help her son not miss the way and return safely.


The farmer's mother's plan reveals three things:


a. People who are older are smarter, even if they are not physically more active.

b. The more the farmer's mother was older and experienced, the more problems she will be able to solve.

c. Older individuals don't react or work as rapidly as younger people do, but they do so more intelligently and with greater accuracy, and they make judgments based on the implications.


When the farmer reached the summit of the mountain, he felt tired. More importantly, despite his fatigue, his heart became heavy with thoughts about abandoning his mother. He then freed his mother's weight from his back and placed her on the ground. After that, he silently prepared a comfortable place for his mother to take rest. So, he gathered some fallen pine leaves and made a soft cushion out of them for his mother.
"Pine needles" here refers to pine leaves that are needle shaped. He then wrapped his mother in her padded coat more closely around the stooping shoulders, which was the effect of her old age. And at last, he said farewell to his mother with an aching heart and tears in his eyes. His love and sympathy toward his mother are portrayed in these lines.

When the farmer bid his farewell to his mother, she gave him one last piece of advice for her son in a trembling voice. Her selfless affection had reflected in her helpful suggestions. After all, mothers are all the same, and they consider their children's well-being in the face of any difficulty. Despite being on her deathbed, the farmer's mother, like any other mother, was concerned about her son's safety. The elderly mother warned her son about walking around in the mountains since it would be dangerous.


She told him so because she was concerned that her son would lose his way and become stuck in one of the places, fall into one of the mountain pits, or be captured by any wild creatures. For this reason, his mother advised him to be cautious on his way home and to follow the twigs she had dropped on the way to the summit. She told him that the twigs would be quite useful in guiding him back to the familiar road.


When the farmer looked back at the path after listening to his mother, he was surprised to see the twigs. He next noticed his mother's hands, which were scratched and stained from the twigs she had gathered and handled.


His mother's affection affected him deeply. "Oh, honourable mother, your kindness breaks my heart!" he screamed out loudly. "I will not leave you. Together we will follow the path of twigs, and together we will die!". The poor farmer's screams and sobs expressed his love for his mother. He didn't want to abandon his mother, despite the fact that he knew it would mean his mother's death.


The farmer was ready to take on the burden of his beloved mother once again. He hurried down from the mountain, through the shadows and moonlight, to his small hut at the mountain's foot. The poor farmer decided to hide his mother beneath the kitchen floor in his small hut. The farmer used to keep food in a closed cupboard beneath the kitchen floor. He kept her hidden inside the cupboard since it was covered and hidden from view. He gave her everything she needed. However, he was terrified, and he kept checking to see if anyone had found her existence.
Days passed. Nobody noticed the farmer's mother from his hut, so the poor farmer stopped worrying and felt relieved. The Shining's dictatorial ruler had issued yet another illogical or meaningless order, demonstrating his power. And that absurd order was for his subjects to present him with a rope made of ashes.
Fear filled the entire territory when the king's messengers delivered his next announcement. It's because they had to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of presenting the governor with a rope made of ashes. People in Shining were afraid that if they did not follow his orders, they would be considered disobedient. The poor farmer was also concerned about how to follow with the order. He told his elderly mother about the king's command. The dear mother, desperate to save her good-hearted son, requested some time to figure out how to carry out the king's command. Then, the next day, as she said, gave her son an idea for making a rope out of ashes the next day.
The wise mother advised her son to make a rope out of twisted straw and burn it on a row of flat stones on a windless night. The farmer called the people of Shining and carried out his mother's instructions. What a marvel that was. After the fire had gone away, the ashes on the stone had taken on the appearance of a rope made of ashes. Finally, the farmer carried out the king's order.
The governor was highly impressed with the farmer's wit and intelligence when he saw the ash rope the farmer had created. But he demanded to know where he got the idea for such a thing from the farmer. When the farmer was asked a question, he replied to the king with a low bow about his mother's hidden existence. For some time, the governor stood quietly listening to the farmer. He didn't reply anything, but seemed to be thinking about something seriously. After some thought, he proudly lifted his head and announced his decision. He made the decision not to punish the farmer, but to abolish the terrible law he had established. He told his citizens that the Shining Country needed more than youth, which indicates that while young people devote their efforts in protecting the country, it would be in vain without the experience and wisdom of the elderly.
In addition, the governor realised that he had forgotten the old proverb, "With the crown of snow, there cometh wisdom!", which means that people develop wisdom as they age. As a result, the barbaric practise of killing the elderly came to an end, and it was no longer practised by anyone in the country of Shining but remained only as a past legend.
The narrative teaches the lesson that everyone in society, regardless of age, has a role to perform, and the farmer's aged mother's wisdom saved all of society's elders. The narrative also emphasises the necessity of elderly people being cared for and treated with respect as they get older.