Grey Matter

Fayaz the barber was trimming the mayor’s hair at the mayoral residence. When he had finished, Fayaz casually remarked: “Your hair is starting to turn grey.”

Infuriated at the barber’s audacity, the mayor ordered that Fayaz be put in jail for six months. He then turned to a court attendant and asked: “Do you see any grey in my hair?”

“Not much,” the man replied.

“Not much!” the mayor exclaimed. “Guards, take this man to jail and keep him there for two months!” He then turned to another attendant and asked the same question.

“Sir, your hair is completely black,” the man replied. “You liar!” the mayor yelled. “Guards, give this man ten lashes on the back, and put him in jail for three months.”

Finally, the mayor turned to Nasruddin and asked: “Mullah, what colour is my hair?”

“Sir,” Nasruddin replied, “I am colour blind, and therefore cannot answer that question with any degree of accuracy. But I cannot help thinking that to a bald man like me, hair of any colour would be a blessing.”

Falling on Deaf Ears

Nasruddin was at the teahouse one afternoon when Arif the hakim walked in.

“How are you, Mullah? I hope you and your family are well,” Arif asked politely.

“I’m fine, thanks, Arif, but I’m worried about my wife, who seems to have become very hard of hearing. Is there any cure for her problem?” asked Nasruddin.

“Well, some degree of age-related hearing loss is normal,” Arif said. “If you bring your wife to my dispensary, I can check her hearing and prescribe the necessary treatment. But before you do that, you can try this simple test. When you go home this evening, call out to your wife from the gate and see if she hears you. If not, then try speaking to her from the front door and keep reducing the distance until she responds. This way you will be able to gauge how serious her hearing deficiency is.”

Nasruddin thanked the doctor for the free medical advice and headed home. Calling out to Fatima from the gate in the front yard, Nasruddin said loudly: “I’m home, dear. What are we having for dinner?”

Getting no reply, Nasruddin opened the front door and yelled: “I’m home, dear. What are we having for dinner?”

Still getting no response, Nasruddin pushed open the kitchen door and repeated loudly: “What’s for dinner, dear?”

Fatima, who was stirring a large pot on the stove, turned to face her husband. “Are you deaf, Nasruddin?” she said angrily, wiping her hands on her apron. “For the third and last time I repeat: we are having fish stew and pilaf, followed by apricot halva for dessert.”

A Title for the Sultan

The sultan sent an aide to Nasruddin with a request. “Respected Mullah, the sultan needs your help in thinking up an honorary title for him. His Lordship wants his new title to have the word ‘god’ in it, similar to the labels other conquerors have given themselves in the past, such as God Given, God’s Gift, God’s Grace, and so on. Do you have any suggestions that I could pass on to the sultan?”

“How about God Forsaken?” Nasruddin replied.

God’s Servant

Mullah Nasruddin was sitting at a roadside café, eating a frugal meal of rice and beans, which was all he could afford. Idly watching people walking past the café, Nasruddin noticed a tall, well-built, and stylish man who stood out amongst the crowd. Sporting a purple velvet turban, tastefully embroidered vest, finely tailored silk shirt, baggy satin trousers, and a gold scimitar tucked into a broad gold belt, the stranger was making heads turn as he strutted down the street.

Pointing to the immaculately dressed man, Nasruddin asked the restaurateur: “Who is that?”

“He works for Sultan Ali in Beysehir,” the restaurant owner replied.

Mullah Nasruddin sighed heavily, turned his eyes heavenwards, and said: “Dear Lord, I hope you are noticing the difference in the lifestyle of Sultan Ali’s servant over there and your own servant here! Don’t you think that poverty is a high price for your followers to pay?”

Running for Mayor

Mullah Nasruddin put himself in the race for the hotly contested post of town mayor. After making a rousing speech at a rally, he asked the crowd if they had any questions.

“I have one question for you, sir,” said a man. “Do you drink alcohol?”

“That depends,” replied the mullah, “on whether my answer leads to disqualification or an invitation...”

On the day of the election, Nasruddin was bitterly disappointed to learn that his opponent had won the post by a small margin.

“I am a victim,” he complained to his friends, “a hapless victim.”

“A victim?” a friend asked. “Of what?”

“A victim of accurate counting.”

God’s Wisdom

One hot summer’s day, Nasruddin was relaxing in an orchard under the shade of an apricot tree. Looking around him, and marvelling at nature’s bounty, he wondered why apples, cherries, and other small fruit grew on trees, while large melons and pumpkins grew on vines at ground level.

Sometimes it is hard to understand god’s ways, he pondered. Imagine letting apricots, cherries, and apples grow on tall trees while large melons and pumpkins grow on delicate vines!

At that precise moment, the mullah’s reverie was interrupted by an unripe apricot falling from the tree and bouncing off his bald head. Roused from his musings, Nasruddin stood up, raised his hands and face towards heaven, and said humbly: “Forgive me, god, for questioning your wisdom. You are all-knowing and all-powerful. I would have been in a sorry state now if melons grew on trees.”

Two in One

Nasruddin was taking a shortcut home through the cemetery, where a burial was in progress. As he walked past the group of mourners, he overheard one of them saying: “Today is a sad day for us all. We have buried an honest man and a politician.”

A sad day indeed, Nasruddin thought to himself. I didn’t realise that the situation was so dire that they are now compelled to bury two people in the same grave!

Teaching a Horse to Sing

Excerpted with permission from Teaching a Horse to Sing: Tales of Uncommon Sense from India and Elsewhere, Retold by Delshad Karanjia, Aleph Book Company.