Folktale from Turkey
Told by a man at Hvilan Folk High School March 2019
There was once a man named Nasreddin Hodja. He lived in a city in Turkey. To him you went to get good advice. One cold winter evening, Hodja was invited home to one of the village’s richest men. When they ate and drank their coffee, they began to talk about the cold weather. A young man said:
“It’s so cold that when the cats jump between the rooftops they freeze to ice!”
Then Hodja said:
“So cold it is not, you exaggerate. When I was young, the lake froze so we could cross the ice to the other side of the lake. Nowadays you complain about how cold it is as soon as it starts to snow a little!”
When the host heard this, he said:
“Hodja! Let’s make a bet! If you can stay out all night, I’ll arrange a big party for you and all the villagers. If you lose, you make a party for us! Do you agree? And you can’t make a fire!”
Hodja agreed to the bet.
He went out and sat down under the big plane tree. He froze. When the night was it’s coldest, he thought about giving up. But if he did, he would have to invite the whole village to a party, so he held out. Just before dawn, some men came from the village to see if Hodja was still there. When they saw him under the big tree, they were very surprised.
“How could you sit out in the cold all night,” they wondered.
“Don’t ask me,” Hodja replied, “it was so cold that I could have frozen to death. If it hadn’t been for a little light I saw shining from one of the houses over there, the whole village would have disappeared in the dark.”
Then the villagers shouted:
“You’ve lost the bet, Hodja! You have looked at the light from that house to warm you!”
They discussed the matter. Hodja understood that they could not agree.
“Well,” he said, “tonight you are all invited to my party!”
The next day, Hodja went to the the house of the man he had made the bet with.
“There is a hole in my big pot, and I wonder if I can borrow a pot from you for tonight.”
He could. Hodja went home with the pot.
Late in the afternoon, Hodja went back to the owner of the pot and pounded at his door.
“What do you want now, Hodja?”
“The pot you lent me is too small for my party, you can lend me one that is a little bigger?” Hodja said and returned the pot. In the pot there was a small pot.
“But Hodja, why have you put this little pot in the big pot?”
“Ah, while your pot was at home with me, she gave birth to a child …”
The neighbor didn’t really understand but was happy about the new pot. He went away with the two pots and came back with a bigger one.
Hodja is getting old and is probably losing his mind, the neighbor laughed to himself.
In the evening the guests came, they were happy that they could fool Hodja so easily. In the middle of the floor was already the large table, which had been laid. The guests sat down. Time went by. They waited for the food and became increasingly hungry. Finally, they couldn’t help but ask:
“Shouldn’t you bring out the food soon, Hodja?”
Hodja got up and went out into the kitchen. Through the doorway, the villagers could see the large pot which was suspended by a rope from the ceiling. But there was no fire! Instead, there was a small, small candle that burned with a flickering flame under the pot.
“Hodja, one does not cook in such a large pot with just one candle”! Hodja replied:
“Why not? If I could warm myself a whole night by the little light far from the village, why would I not be able to cook a candle?”
The villagers felt cheated by Hodja. But they couldn’t be angry, because they knew they had been unfair to Hodja.
The next day, the pots owner came to Hodja to retrieve it. Then Hodja said:
“I’m sorry, my friend, but something bad has happened. Your pot is dead.”
“How can a pot die? You are kidding, right…”
“You think a pot can give birth, then you must believe that it can also die!”
And the neighbor had to turn home empty-handed.
Read the fairy tale in Swedish
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