Tales: Whose Picture is This?

Once upon a time it happened that a simple man went to the market with a coin or two in his pocket, and there discovered something he had never seen before: a small mirror.  When he looked at it, it seemed to him to be a picture of someone who resembled his dear, departed peasant father, and so he was happy to buy it.  He took the mirror home, hid it away in an upstairs cupboard, and whenever he felt sad or weighed down by the burdens of life, he would go and gaze at the picture of his father until he felt better.

He did not say anything of this to his wife, who wondered what her husband was doing when he would go upstairs for a time.  She noticed that he always seemed more cheerful afterward, and so, very curious, she spied on him, and saw that he was staring into the cupboard for a long time, smiling.  The next time he went out, she went to the cupboard and looked inside – and to her horror, saw a picture of a woman!

When the man came home, his wife was waiting like a thundercloud.  She accused him of having a secret girlfriend.  Stunned by the suggestion, he denied anything of the kind, and a tremendous battle ensued.

The shouts, cries and screams grew in volume until the whole village was listening.  It happened that just at that moment Mullah Nasruddin was passing by.  Thinking that it would an act of merit that could erase many of his own sins to prevent the murder that seemed likely, the Mullah put his head in the door and asked what they were fighting about.  Finally understanding the problem, Nasruddin said to himself, ” These simple people are very confused.  Obviously the course of wisdom is to first verify the facts.  I shall go myself and examine the picture.”  Therefore he went upstairs, and looked in the cupboard.

When he returned, he told the couple, “You are both in error.  It is neither a picture of a woman, nor of a peasant, but an image of a mullah.  And, I could add, one who appears both learned and very, very saintly.”

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