Nasruddin Hodja opened a shop to sell fish. To attract customers, he hung a slate on which he wrote: “FRESH FISH SOLD HERE.” Then he sat down in the shop, waiting for customers.
A passerby stopped at the shop. He looked at the board and said, ”Why do you say ‘Fresh’? No one sells stale fish, do they? Hodja thanked him and rubbed off the word ‘fresh’. The board now read, “FISH SOLD HERE.”
Another person who dropped in looked at the board, and shook his head. “Here? Is it necessary to say ‘here’? The moment he sees fish, even a dimwit knows they are sold here.” Hodja thanked him and rubbed off the word ‘here.’ The board now read, “FISH SOLD.”
A few minutes later the village school teacher stopped by. He looked at the board. “Sold? Of course, you have kept the fish to sell, not give to charity.” Hodja thanked him and rubbed off the word ‘sold.’ The board now read, “FISH.” Then he waited patiently for customers.
The village wise man visited the shop. “I could smell fish from half a mile away,” he said, “Is it necessary to announce fish?”
Hodja thanked him and rubbed off the word ‘Fish’. Now a slate was hanging above with nothing written on it.
Hodja waited for customers. Then came his wife. “Is this way to attract customers?” she scolded Hodja. “Why don’t you write on the slate: FRESH FISH SOLD HERE?”
Story: Subba Rao | Illustration: Kaustuv Brahmachari