Nakosteen, Mehdi Mulla's Donkey and Other Friends
Bethesda, MD Ibex Publishers 2018 0936347481 / 9780936347486 Softcover English 172
The anecdotes, episodes, and tales woven into these stories run the entire gamut of human weaknesses, stupidities, hypocrisies, and pretensions. Whether with beggars or with kings, whether in poverty or in affluence, his observations, though appearing funny on the surface, turn out to be devastating underneath. If there is a philosophy underlying the stories, it is that in this life it is not worth taking oneself or anything else too seriously, if seriously at all. But there is more than mere humor in his tales. Queried as to when would be the best time to eat, Mulla says, “For the poor, whenever he can find food.” Unable to mount his mule, he saves face by telling his friends, “When I was younger I used to leap over the beast when the animal was running at full speed.” Later, when left alone with the mule, he whispers in its ear, “Between the two of us, my friend, I wasn’t any better when I was younger.” After a day of bear hunting he returns home to tell the neighbors what a marvelous day he had. A neighbor asks, “How many bears did you kill?” “None.” “How many did you aim at?” “None.” “How many did you see?” “None.” “What then was so marvelous about the hunt?” “When it comes to hunting bears, with my kind of courage seeing no bears is a marvelous experience,” he replies. Asked what are the marks of happiness, Mulla says, “Warm feet, cool head, a full stomach, and a light heart.” He says a philosopher once told him that mankind has only two good qualities, one of which the philosopher had forgotten. Nasreddin then confesses he has since forgotten the other one himself. Once a judge he listens to a plaintiff ’s case and declares, “My verdict is that you are right.” Then listening to the defendant’s side, he declares, “You too are right.” A witness asks Mulla, “How can both the plaintiff and the defendant be right at once?” And he replies, “You are also right.” And so it goes with most of the lively anecdotes and stories. Nakosteen examined more than a thousand Persian, Arabic and Turkish stories of Mulla Nasreddin and from these he selected, translated and adapted.