The Art of the Turkish Tale
Nasreddin Hoca and the 999 Liras
One day Nasreddin Hoca prayed to Allah for one thousand liras, saying,
"Allah, if there is one lira less than one thousand in the bag you send, I
shall not accept it."
A neighbour of the Hoca's was standing outside the house listening
through his chimney as the Hoca was praying. Now this neighbour was known
to be a miser, but he was also a practical joker, and he decided to play a
trick on the Hoca.
He went home and put 999 liras into a bag and tied the bag tightly.
Then he returned to Nasreddin Hoca's house, climbed up on the roof, and
dropped the bag down through the chimney. When the Hoca saw the bag, he
stared in amazement. Then, grabbing the bag, he untied it and began
counting the coins. When he had counted the 999 liras, he opened his hands
toward heaven and said, "O Almighty Allah! You have given me999 liras
today. I am sure that in the future you will give me the one lira that is
missing.' Then he tucked the bag with the 999 liras into his sash.
His stingy neighbour, who was listening through the chimney regretted
what he had done. He came down quickly from the roof, knocked at the door,
and explained to the Hoca that it was he not Allah who had dropped the
money down. "It was only a joke, Hoca Effendi. We shall laugh together,
over this many times, but now give me my money back and I shall go
Nasreddin Hoca would do nothing of the sort. He argued that Allah had
sent him the money in answer to his prayer. Upon hearing this the
neighbour said, "If you do not return my money I shall take my case to the
kadi." He went, in fact, and complained to the kadi about Nasreddin Hoca,
and the Hoca was summoned to appear before the kadi.
When he heard this, the Hoca said to his miserly neighbour, "I cannot
go to court, for I have no suitable clothes to wear." The neighbour had
never been known to give anything to anybody but now he offered to lend
the Hoca a suit of clothes and a turban so that he could appear in court
to answer the charge against him.
`Thank you, neighbour," said the Hoca as he accepted the clothes. "Of
course, I'll have to walk, since my donkey is lame, so I may be late for
"You mustn't be late," said the neighbour. "I'll let you borrow my
second donkey, and we can ride there together." The Hoca agreed, and then
he went along to his house with the borrowed clothes and the borrowed
turban and the borrowed donkey.
On the day of the hearing, he and his neighbour appeared before the
kadi and the neighbour stated his complaint.
`Well, Hoca," said the kadi, `now I'll take our evidence. What is our
defence against his claim?"
"Only that my neighbour is lying," said the Hoca, "and I think I can
prove it. Before long, he will claim that even the suit I am wearing
belongs to him."
The neighbour was astonished at this turn of affairs. "Why, it does!"
exclaimed the neighbour. "Of course it is mine. and so is the turban that
he is wearing."
"And of course the donkey on which I rode belongs to you?" said the
Hoca, with his voice calm and his smile merry.
"Ah, yes, the donkey is mine, too," said the neighbour.
"You see what I mean," said the Hoca, not the least bit upset. "Kadi
Effendi, he claims that the clothes I am wearing and even the donkey I
rode belong to him. No wonder he claims that the money belongs to him,
too." He then turned to his neighbour and said sternly, "From now on,
don't you ever dare to interfere again in my affairs with Allah."
The kadi acquitted Nasreddin Hoca on this evidence.
Mehdi Divandari - Iran