Friday, 21 December 2007

Tamerlane’s elephant

Noble is sacrifice for the public good! It will be wise though to ask yourself whether a given public is good enough to deserve it. This reminds me of a story:

After trampling so many of Bajazet’s spahis and janissaries in the great battle of Ankara, Tamerlane’s war elephants deserved a vacation and good food. Accordingly, the Emir spread them to pasture one by one in many Turkish villages with orders to let them feed aplenty and to treat them with the respect due to his own envoys. One, ended up in Nasrudin’s village.

First, the villagers gathered to admire that beast never seen before. As they all enjoyed excellent eye-sight, they admired the whole and choose each of them their preferred part. One observed that the animal had legs like trees or stone pillars. Another marveled at the trunk and called it a water spout. The third compared the ears with huge fans, large like carpets. Yet another admired the back, large and haughty, equal to a throne. But while they replenished their eyes the elephant filled its belly.

This huge nosy creature couldn’t help heaving big feet and even bigger appetite. In no time he ate up a good part of the villagers’ crops and that which he didn’t gobble up he crushed into the ground.

Something had to be done. After a couple of days the peasants rebelled. Red with courage they came to Hodja and demanded him to head their complaining delegation to Tamerlane.

Nasrudin tried to shy away but they convinced him for the public good. The numerous delegation started bravely towards Timur’s camp. Curiously, as they advanced, more and more of the villagers were left behind and disappeared. Hodja who didn’t look left or right, absorbed as he was with what to say to the Emperor, suddenly found himself in his presence, alone.

“Miserable cowards, they left me alone” he thought as the Ruler asked him, with a very cold eye, what he wanted.

“I came to tell you, Sultan, that the people in our village greatly admire your wonderful elephant. But we must complain on its behalf.”

Tamerlane rose an eyebrow:

“What?”

“The wonderful beast is lonely without a mate and all of us worry for its health. Our whole village begs your Highness to provide a she-elephant as a company for our guest.”

At this, Timur was pleased. Nasrudin was awarded a robe of honour and told to extend greetings to the population.

On the way home the delegation grew back in size:

“What did the Emperor say?” they inquired.

“Good news,” answered Hodja with enthusiasm. “As he saw me alone while I mentioned the elephant he immediately guessed that our beast also feels lonely. He agreed to send a mate to appease him. We will now be a renowned village displaying two elephants!”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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