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The Heavy Load

Published January 8, 2018
Countries: Persia, Iran
Age Levels: 8 and up

The Mullah Nasreddin was a teacher, a judge and a priest in ancient Persia. He was a beloved character who lived a simple life. The Mullah always followed his religious beliefs and gave simple but sometimes unusual solutions to help his neighbors solve their problems.

Once the Mullah rode to the market on his little donkey. The bazaar was filled with vendors selling fruits and vegetables, carpets, animals and products of many kinds. The Mullah had been sent to the market by his wife, Fatima, who he loved dearly. His job on this day was to find a vegetable that did not grow in her garden – something to be added to the stew she was making. Every vegetable looked so beautiful. They came in every color, size and shape. Each looked delicious to the Mullah. He loved Allah. He loved his wife. AND, he loved to eat!

The Mullah bought more vegetables than his wife had ordered. He bought red, white and yellow onions. He bought red beets, green cabbages and yellow melons.    He bought green vegetables, purple vegetables, round vegetables, long vegetables, light vegetables and heavy ones. The bag he brought to carry them was filled and overflowing. The vendors were smiling and happy with coins in their purses and empty places where the Mullah had bought their wares.

The little donkey almost groaned when she saw the heavy load that Nasreddin was about to put in the saddlebags on her back. But instead of filling the saddlebags, the Mullah held the vegetables at arm’s length as he mounted his tiny but loyal donkey. The Mullah called to his animal, and it began the ride home. Nasreddin held the vegetables one side and then on the other. He held them with one hand at a time – then with both hands. He leaned one way and then the other – sometimes almost falling off the donkey because of the unbalanced load.

People watched the Mullah weave back and forth on the donkey. They knew the Mullah was true to his religion and did not drink. So – he was not drunk. Yet he rode in a way that made everyone dizzy to watch him.  Finally one man asked the Mullah, “Why do you torture your arms that way? Why don’t you put your vegetables in your donkey’s saddlebags?”

“I cannot do that,” said the Mullah. “I love my donkey too much. My donkey is very small, and the vegetables are very heavy. They are too heavy for my donkey to carry. So, I am carrying the vegetables, and the donkey carries me.”

Everyone who heard the Mullah’s words shook their heads trying to understand what the Mullah had just said. Meanwhile, the man who was a teacher, a judge, a priest, a husband, and a good neighbor continued his journey home to the wife he loved. He rode along happy that he was saving his donkey from carrying a load that was too heavy.