There’s No Pleasing Anybody
Nasruddin and his son, Ahmet, were taking a trip with Karakacan, their faithful little grey donkey, the son riding while the Mullah walked alongside. As some strangers encountered them on the road, one man admonished Nasruddin’s son, “Look at you, a healthy young man, letting your aging father walk. Why, the old man looks like he’s about to have heatstroke. That’s today’s youth for you — indolent and disrespectful.”
After they passed out of sight and earshot of the men, the boy felt very ashamed and got off the donkey. He insisted that his father ride while he walked, and so they went and everything was fine for a while.
Farther along they met a group of women sitting by the road. They clucked their tongues and complained loudly, “Look at that — the lazy father rides the donkey and makes the little boy walk, on a hot day like this. How cruel and unfair is that‽”
Embarrassed by the women’s comments, Nasruddin pulled his boy up to ride on the donkey with him, and they traveled like that for a while in silent dread of the next encounter.
Before long they approached some villagers, and one piped up, “What a shame! I feel sorry for that abused little donkey — carrying both of those grown men in this blazing heat. They are surely going to break its back. The poor beast looks almost ready to collapse.”
After this group passed, Nasruddin stopped the donkey, dismounted, and helped Ahmet get off. He grasped both his son’s hand and the donkey’s rein and declared, exasperated, “Now nobody can complain,” and they resumed their journey.
At the next village, they walked by a shop where several men were standing. When the men saw the trio trudging along on eight legs, they laughed and pointed, taunting them, “Look at those stupid fools — walking in this heat with a perfectly good donkey they could ride! Don’t they have any brains at all‽”
Nasruddin turned to Ahmet and said, “This just goes to show you, my boy, about the wicked criticism of people whom you don’t know. Everyone has an opinion and is quick to share it with you — but there is no pleasing anyone in this world. Therefore, you may as well just do as you wish.”
In one version of this story, the Mullah and his son carry the donkey – until someone comes along and criticizes them. I would have included this variant in the published story, but I’m certain that someone would disapprove.