Tales : The Mullah’s Business Losses

It happened once upon a time that Mullah Nasruddin was sitting in a tea-house when a friend came to him and said, “Mullah, I am preparing to take a caravan across the desert, looking for opportunities to trade. If you have any money, I will do some buying and selling for you. You could become a wealthy Mullah.”

Nasruddin went home and turned his house upside down looking for money, but all he found was a single small silver coin. He went back to the tea house and gave it to his friend. “It is all I have,” he said.

“Never mind, I will do my best for you, Mullah,” the friend said to him. “You never know, your little piece of silver could grow into a pocketful of gold. Just be patient until our caravan returns.”

Many months later the friend reappeared in the tea-house, and seized Nasruddin in a warm embrace. “Mullah,” he said, “you won’t believe what has happened! Your piece of silver multiplied like the sands of the Sahara! Like the stars in the sky! In the first city I used it to buy a ring, and in the second city I sold the ring to buy gems, and in the third city I sold the gems to buy musk –” And he went on detailing the sequence of trades by which Nasruddin’s wealth grew and grew.

“All of the other investments came to nothing,” the friend said. “Now, the entire caravan is your wealth, Mullah! You are as rich as a Padishah! You just have to wait for the caravan to arrive. I came ahead – it will arrive in a week.”

The news shot through the village like lightning and soon everyone was coming to congratulate Nasruddin, swearing their undying friendship, claiming kinship, offering him gifts and inviting him to dinner. There was even a messenger from the king, offering the Mullah some appointment – perhaps, if the Mullah was interested, to become the governor of the region.

Then one evening the friend appeared at Nasruddin’s door with a face as pale as paper. “Mullah!” he said. “I have terrible news. A day’s journey from here bandits attacked the caravan and carried off everything. The camel drivers escaped with their lives but with nothing else. I am sorry, Mullah, but your wealth has vanished!”

Nasruddin stroked his beard. “Well,” he said, “it’s not so bad.”

“Not so bad?” said his friend. “Mullah, how can you say that?”

“What did I lose?” Nasrudding replied. “Just one piece of silver!”

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