Tales : Sharing the burden

It happened once upon a time that Mullah Nasruddin decided to go and visit a friend who lived in the city. He had not seen his friend for a long time, and so he naturally wanted to take some gifts with him. The Mullah looked here and there, searching for ideas, but as usual his house had very little in it. In the garden, though, he had some vegetables, so he made up some sacks of onions and cucumbers and cabbages and pumpkins, and then he loaded them on his donkey, climbed on himself, and urged the animal out the gate and down the road.

The Mullah had not ridden far before he met an old woman walking in the other direction. When she saw Nasruddin astride the donkey, with all the sacks as well, she wagged her finger at him, and said, ‘Have you no compassion for that poor animal, Mullah? See how heavily he is laden!’

After the woman passed, Nasruddin halted for a moment, and then got off the donkey. The old woman is right, he thought. As I know better than anyone, this donkey has a difficult character, but to show compassion to a hardened sinner is a double virtue. I should try to treat him better.

Therefore, Nasruddin began to take the sacks of vegetables off the donkey, one by one, and tie them to his own body. He put some in front, and some some in back. When he was finished, he looked more like a camel than a Mullah.

‘There,’ Nasruddin said to the donkey, ‘You see? I’ll carry the vegetables. But you have to do your share of the work. You have to carry me.’ And with that he climbed back on the donkey and set off for the city.

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