Reflections and Projections

by rjs
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Published on: June 3, 2011

Reflections and Projections

(The Thief Hiding in the Water Jug)

Once, as a young child, Nasruddin happened to gaze into a large jar full of water, and saw his reflection. He cried: “Mother! There is a young boy hiding in the water pitcher — he must be a thief!”

Mullah Nasruddin
Mullah Nasruddin

His mother, Leyla, looked into it likewise, saw her reflection, and shrieked as she recoiled in horror, “Yes, by God, it is true! And with him is an ugly old woman!”

Nasruddin toppled the water jug onto the floor, where it broke and water gushed forth. His mother, trying to save the jar and the boy at the same time, slipped in the water and fell.

She cried out, “Aiii! The thief grabbed me!”

And the boy shouted out to his neighbors: “Help! Come all you people! We are beset by thieves!”

Excerpted from The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin: Stories, Jests, and Donkey Tales of the Beloved Persian Folk Hero

Your Daily Nasruddin

This story, one of the oldest extant Nasruddin tales, illustrates how easily illusion spreads like a virus from one defective mind to another. Young Nasruddin misperceives his own reflection, seeing instead of himself the image of a young hooligan.

Demonstrating that the addled and confused never fall far from the tree, Nasruddin’s mother affirms her son’s illusion and projects her own poor self-image onto her reflection in the water. Hilarious chaos ensues.

In a family of idiots, one foolish turn deserves another.

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