The Loving Mother - Summary | The Magic of Words

A Story From the Island of Hokkaido, Japan

The Loving Mother - Summary | The Magic of Words

The Loving Mother

Mr Shoji Sakota was a pharmacist in the city of Sappora on Hokkaido Island in northern Japan. He used to have his own drug store in the same building, where he used to live. He used to live alone in the rear part of the building because his wife had died several years earlier. One stormy winter night in 1964, he was working in his room at about midnight. As it was the end of the fiscal/financial year, he was very busy with the profit, loss and the accounts of the whole year. At that time, there was a knock at his door. At first, he avoided it. But the knocking persisted or repeated. At last, he opened the door thinking that somebody might have come for some very important medicine. It was a woman who wanted an ame (Japanese candy used for pacifying young children) on a stick for her baby. Mr. Sakota was quite surprised at it because the lady was buying sweet at that time of night. He was very much moved or surprised by the appearance of the lady. She was so strange that her hair was disheveled/messy/uncombed/ untidy and her eyes were quite strange.

In short, she looked a lady from another world. The lady went from there but somehow or other Mr. Sakota could not forget her appearance and at last he left working and went to the bed. On the next night, the same woman came and both the times she asked for an ame. Mr. Sakota was all the more worried. He had a friend with whom he shared his worries. The friend was a photographer. So, they planned to snap the lady if she came the next time or next night.

The next night also, the lady came at the same time and with the same demand. The photographer friend was hiding in the shop and he snapped the lady from different angles. But, when the photographs came, they were quite surprised to find that all articles were present in the photograph but not the lady. Then the two friends decided to follow her the next time if she came.

The next night also, the lady arrived at the same time and asked for an ame. When she left the shop, the two friends followed her quietly. Finally, they reached a room in an old building. In the room, they found a baby sucking or licking an ame and the woman appeared to be sleeping there in the bed. When they tried to wake up the lady, they realized that she was dead and they felt that she had been dead for several days.

The conclusion is that after her death the lady’s soul was worried about the child. She not only wanted to arrange for food for her child but she also wanted someone to come and know that she had been dead and her child was in a helpless situation. She had selected Mr. Sakota for this.

Important Questions

1. Summarize the story “The Loving Mother.”
Ans: See the summary above for the complete answer.

2. Describe the women who visited Mr. Sakota’s pharmacy late at night.
Ans: The women who visited Shoji Sakota’s pharmacy late at night, was abnormally pale. Her hair was untidy and she had mysterious eyes. She looked to be rather slim and thin. Her appearance was not usual.

3. Show the points of similarities and differences between the supernatural stories” A House Call” and “The Loving Mother”
Ans: Both the stories `A House Call’ and `The Loving Mother’ are the supernatural stories. In the story `The House Call’ a small girl’s spirit comes and visits the doctor. Similarly in the story `The Loving Mother’ the spirit of the dead mother comes and visits the pharmacist. In both stories, there is a description of love and affection between the mother and the child. Both stories show that even after someone’s death, their spirit visits their loving members of the family. The difference is that in the story of `The House Call’ small girl visit the doctor but in the second story, the mother visits the pharmacist. In the first story, the little girl requests the doctor to get to her house but in the second story, the mother asks for ame.

Questions for Practice

  1. Why did Mr. Sakota want the picture taken?
  2. Why did not Mr. Sakota go to the door at the first knocking?

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