It happened once upon a time that Mullah Nasruddin lived next door to a man and wife who were very poor, and who also day-dreamed a lot. Whether the day-dreaming was caused by the poverty, or the poverty was caused by the day-dreaming, only a very wise person could say. In any case, one day, on a day like any other, the man said, “Dear wife, just imagine – If I could get some work, and then we had a bit of money, I could buy a cow. No – two cows!”
“Oh, husband,” said his wife, “with two cows we would have much milk! I could make yogurt and cheese. And I could take milk to my sister!”
“Milk to your sister?” said the man. “Certainly not. We will sell every drop that we do not use ourselves.”
“Husband, you know that my brother-in-law is lazy and they never have anything to feed the children. I have to take her some milk.”
“No,” the man said firmly, “we’re not going to prop up that lazy do-nothing brother-in-law of yours. I never liked him anyway. I absolutely forbid that you take her any of our milk.”
“Say what you like, husband, but I WILL take her milk. I will wait until you go to your work, and I will do it then!”
“You will NOT,” he shouted, “and do you know why? Because I’m going to break every pot that we have! Let’s see what you do with just your bare hands!” And he began to smash the few pots that they had, while the wife screamed and shouted in protest.
At this moment, Mullah Nasruddin put his head in the door and asked what was the cause of all the uproar. With much heat and bad language they explained to him what they were fighting about, and when he finally understood, Nasruddin suddenly grabbed the broom that was standing in the corner, went outside and began to wave it around, shouting and whistling.
The husband and wife stared at him in astonishment, and finally said, “Mullah, what are you doing?”
“Chasing your cows away,” he said. “They are eating all my cucumbers.”
Your cucumbers? But Mullah, you don’t have any cucumbers. You don’t even have a garden!”
“No,” said Nasruddin, “not yet. But I intend to have a garden, and when I do, I shall grow beautiful cucumbers there, the best cucumbers in the world. They will even catch the eye of the Vizier, and then they will be prized on the table of the King! And do you think I will stand back and allow the fine cucumbers I don’t have to be eaten by the gluttonous cows you don’t have?”