Big fish, little fish

A Mullah Nasruddin / Nasreddin Hoca story


Big fish, little fish

Mullah Nasruddin
Mullah Nasruddin

One day, young Nasruddin’s mother, Leyla, was cooking and speaking to her husband, Yousef, as the child watched them unseen through a hidden crack in the door.

Leyla said, “Listen, my husband, I have prepared both a large fish and a small fish. We will hide the big fish under the wooden bench and serve the little one on the table to eat.”

Yousef understood. “So, when the boy then has eaten and gone to bed, we will take out the big fish and eat it all ourselves.”

A few minutes later, Yousef called Nasruddin in the other room, “Come on, boy, let’s eat dinner. We have nice small fish to share.”

He entered the room and sat down with his parents. When Leyla put the little fish on the table, Nasruddin grabbed it and held it to his ear.

Yousef shouted, “Hey, put that down, you little stinker! Why are you doing that?”

Nasruddin said, “Sorry father, but I have to ask the little fish for some very important information.”

“And what is this important matter about which you must ask the fish?”

“I want to ask him the name of the big fish.”

“What in the world are you talking about, boy?”

“I mean, the big fish in the Bible that swallowed Jonah,” answered the boy innocently.

Since it was a biblical question, they indulged his silliness. Yousef said, “Ask your query quickly!”

Nasruddin whispered a short question to the little fish, then held it to his ear, listening intently. After a moment, the boy replaced the little fish on the table platter and stared at it, arms crossed, with a petulant frown.

“Since you’ve already shared your question with us,” Leyla said, “why don’t you tell us the answer the fish gave you?”

The boy said, “Well, the fish replied that he himself did not know. But under the wooden bench, he informed me, there is a fish that is bigger, older, and wiser than him, and he said that I should ask his friend that question!”


Excerpted from

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin
by Ron J. Suresha

now in print from Lethe Press


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