Many years ago, in a small town in far away Japan, she lived a humble marriage with her little son. The three of them formed a happy family until one day the boy fell ill. Every morning he woke up burning with fever and with his face pale as the moon in winter, but no one knew what was wrong with him or what was the origin of his ailments.
The parents tried all kinds of potions and concoctions, but none of the treatments worked and the boy only got worse. Desperate, they thought they had only one chance left: to visit the old man with white beards who lived in the forest.
According to what was told throughout the region, there was no man wiser than him. She knew all the medicinal herbs and the remedies for every rare disease. Perhaps she could cure her son!
– Darling, we have to try! Stay with the boy while I go to ask the old man in the forest for help. Only he can save our little one!
Shedding tears like raindrops, the mother put on a woolen cloak and stepped into the undergrowth. He walked for an hour until he finally spotted a log cabin surrounded by fencing. She approached the entrance, knocked on the door, and a very wrinkled man with a waist-length white beard came out to greet her.
– What are you looking for here, woman?
– Sorry to bother you but I need your help!
– Do not worry; I perceive anguish in your eyes and in your voice … Come in and tell me everything!
The woman entered and settled on a simple bench made of a log. With a heavy heart and swollen eyes from crying, she explained the reason for her visit to the old man.
– Sir, my two-year-old son is very ill. She has been ill for days and we have not been able to lower her temperature. She has a very high fever and a face is white as marble! He doesn’t eat anything and is getting weaker every day. If we don’t find a cure for him, I’m afraid …
– I’m sorry, I’m really sorry…. I will be very honest with you: I do not know the remedy for your son’s illness, but I can tell you how many days he will live.
– How do you say? And without there are few ?! … I don’t know if I want to know!
– Don’t lose hope … You never know!
The old man looked at her tenderly and continued speaking:
– Listen to me carefully: go to the forest and look for a plant that produces yellow flowers called chrysanthemums. Choose one of those flowers, cut it and count the petals; The result you get will be the number of days your little one is going to live, or what is the same, you will know if it is going to be cured or not.
The mother, broken with pain, began to run in search of the plant that the old man had indicated. It didn’t take long to find a bush covered in lovely yellow flowers. He walked over, plucked a flower, and counted its petals.
– Oh no, it can’t be! It only has four petals… That means it will only live four more days!
He collapsed on the ground and cried out bitterly for a long time to vent, but he did not resign himself to this cruel fate. Determined to extend the life of her son for many years, she tried to calm herself, sat on a stone and, very delicately, began to tear the petals of the chrysanthemum into very fine strips until each one was divided into thousands of parts.
When he finished, he returned to the old man’s hut and showed him the flower. The man, very patiently, began to count the petals, but they were infinite and it was impossible for him.
He smoothed his long white beard, sighed, and looked at the woman with a smile.
– I have good news for you. This flower has thousands and thousands of petals, and that means that your little one will live many, many years. Surely he will get married and have many children and many grandchildren, you’ll see. Now, go back to him and trust his recovery.
– Thank you, sir! I will never forget what he has done for me and my family.
The woman, overflowing with happiness, returned home and entered her son’s room. The little boy was no longer immobile in bed, but sitting on some cushions, smiling and eating a plate of soup. He was recovering!
A few days later, the rosy color of her cheeks indicated that she had completely healed.
Legend has it that since then chrysanthemums no longer have four petals but many, so many that no one is able to count them all.You can check it when you see one!