A Foolish Story
Shafika and her husband Hangal lived in a big city. Shafika was a dynamic woman who ran her home exceptionally well, but Hangal was so stupid that it was virtually impossible to trust him to do anything. Shafika always tried to keep her husband’s stupidity a secret, although she often silently cursed her bad luck for having an idiot for a husband.
One day Rahma, a neighbour, called to see Shafika, and as they were pretty good friends, it was a welcome change to sit and discuss all the local news and scandals. On this particular day, Rahma kept mentioning the subject of husbands and how wonderful it was to have a clever husband who earned a good salary.
For some time, poor Shafika listened in silence. Still, then the talk of clever husbands was too much to bear, she broke down, and between her sobs, she stammered, “Please, Rahma, do not talk to me of husbands, for mine is a curse put upon me, and he is far too stupid to earn even a solitary rupee.”
Rahma tried to console her and tell her that her husband could not be that bad.
“I will show you that I have the stupidest husband,” said Shafika; going to the door, she called, “Hangal, go upstairs and fetch the bread, then I will make your breakfast.”
After a pause, Hangal’s hesitating voice was heard, “Shafika, my dear, I am halfway up the stairs. Should I go up or come down?”
“If you have the loaf of bread in your hands, come down; if not, go up the stairs and fetch it.”
Silence reigned for several minutes, then again came Hangal’s voice. “Shafika, I am halfway down the stairs; what do I do now?”
Shafika told him to look in his hands and, if he had the bread, to please come down. Then turning to Rahma, she shrugged her shoulders and said: “You have now seen for yourself that he is quite hopeless.”
Rahma smiled: “If you want to see a bigger fool, come along to my home.”
So the two women went to Rahma’s home, and as soon as they got inside, Rahma gave her husband a jar full of water and told him to take this wheat to the miller and have it ground.
Off he went with the jar on his head, and when he got to the miller’s yard, the miller took one look at the pot of water and realized that here was a prize idiot, but loving a good joke, the miller said:
“I am afraid this is going to take time to grind. So why don’t you rest awhile on that heap of hay over there, next to that fellow who is sleeping.”
That sounded a good idea, so the husband lay down beside a snoring stranger and, before long, was fast asleep.
Quietly, the miller took a pair of scissors and cut our friend’s long beard relatively short, placing a large turban on his head and giving him a good shake. “Wake up,” he shouted. “Here is your jar of wheat flour. Now off you go.”
When he arrived home, neither Rahma, his wife, nor Shafika recognized him. Rahma shouted, “Who are you, and what do you want?”
“But I am sure one of you is my wife,” replied the perplexed husband.
“Nonsense,” said Rahma, “Look in this mirror and then tell me who you are.”
When he looked into the mirror, he saw a stranger’s face and, with a puzzled look, turned to the woman. “I beg your pardon. This is the fault of the miller. Instead of giving my wheat meal to me, the foolish miller must have woken up the stranger and given it to him. I must still be sleeping there, so I will go straight back and tell that miller to wake me up and give me the wheat flour.”