Tomo-san Learns About Responsibility
One day, Tomo-san’s mother asked him to run an errand for his grandmother. “Stop by the drug store and get her the medicine she needs. She isn’t feeling well and will be happy to see you.”
Tomo-san loved his grandmother very much. She always made him feel happy and cheerful, so he was glad for the chance to see her. As he walked and skipped along with his dog, Kidu, he passed the friendly grocery man who asked him where he was going.
“I am going to visit my grandmother,” said Tomo-san. “She isn’t feeling well and I must hurry along and bring the medicine she needs to make her feel better.”
“What a good boy you are,” said the grocer. “I wonder if you can do me a favor while you are on your way. Would you be so kind as to deliver this bag of rice to Kinji-san? His shop is on the way and it will save me a lot of time.”
“Sure,” said Tomo-san. He put the sack of rice over his shoulder, and with a smile, continued on to his grandmother’s house.
Soon he passed the fish store. “Hey, Tomo-san, where are you going?” asked the fish merchant.
“I am going to my grandmother’s house because she is not feeling all that well.”
The man asked Tomo-san if he would deliver a fresh carp to the innkeeper. “It will save me a lot of time and it is on your way. I would really appreciate it,” he said, and tossed the boy a coin. The storekeeper put the fish into a sack and Tomo-san threw that over his shoulder as well.
Shortly after, he passed the candle makers shop. Seeing Tomo-san with some sacks over his shoulder, he asked him if he could please deliver some candles. “It’s on your way and will sure save me a lot of time. And, hey, don’t forget to say hello to your grandmother for me.”
Each time he delivered something, someone else, the butcher, the tea merchant, and the tailor, asked him if he could deliver things for them, and of course, Tomo-san, being the good-natured boy he was, agreed. Some gave him a coin and others didn’t, but he paid it no thought.
Soon the bundles had grown to quite a load. It was heavy, and Tomo-san became tired. He wished he had a wagon and told himself he would make sure to take one the next time. As a matter of fact, he thought, he could even make some money doing it to help his mother. “I’ll even have some spending money for myself,” he said to himself.
He finally came to a small stream in the woods, and being tired, decided to sit for a while and rest, but instead, he fell asleep. When he woke up, it was late afternoon. Some of the packages had starting tearing from the weight, and so he had to repack everything. Then, he was on his way again, but even for a good-natured boy, he was getting a little annoyed.
By the time he got everything delivered and had arrived at his grandmother’s house, it was beginning to get dark. He wanted to spend time with her and also wanted to get home, but the night woods frightened him, as they would frighten any little boy. He could hardly keep his eyes open because he was so tired. He kissed his grandmother when he saw her and told her why he was late getting there. When she asked him if had brought the medicine, he realized he had forgotten it. She asked if he would please go back to the village before it got any darker and get it because that was what she really needed.
“That’s what I started out to do in the first place,” he thought, feeling a bit annoyed with himself. He returned to the village just in time to get the medicine and then quickly ran back to his grandmother’s house. She smiled when she saw him and gave him a big hug and a kiss. He said good-bye to her and started for home.
As he walked through the forest to go home, he was very nervous about the darkness. Along the way, he happened to meet his friend, Mokubei, the wise man, and as they walked with each other, Tomo-san talked about the events of the day and that he had learned a valuable lesson. Mokubei smiled as Tomo-san told him what he had learned about responsibility and soon forgot all about being afraid of the dark. Within a short period of time, they arrived at Tomo-san’s house and said their goodbyes.
As Tomo-san prepared for a good night’s sleep, he thought about the lesson he had learned that day.
It is good to help others, but you should take care of your own responsibilities first regardless of the well-meaning intentions of others.
© SFKaufman 2010
For more info on the author, visit http://www.hanshi.com