Despite the heat, I clutched my find to my chest, as I sauntered among Saturday market stalls. The thin book, a collection of Turkish “Hodja” stories (published in English) made me smile. Then, while I was dithering about what to buy at another stall, a clear voice cut through my indecisiveness.
“ Ah! I see you have the Hodja with you. In Turkey, we love Hodja’s stories. Some say he was a fool but others say he was wise.“ The stallholder was an older man, amber eyes, grey moustache, wiry, my height. He shrugged his shoulders. I nodded in response.
“Yes. I love those stories too,” I mused and when I began to move off, he threw back his arms and began.
“Did you know that Hodja was sitting like a statue at the beach one morning, facing the sea? People, passing by, became curious when he was still there hours later. Eventually a crowd gathered and one villager called out “Hodja! What are you doing?”
When there was no reply, he added “You have been here so long!” and the crowd edged forward to where Hodja sat.
“I am counting the waves,” he announced, without looking up. The crowd laughed.
“So, Hodja, how many are there?” someone shouted from the back.
The crowd laughed harder. Eventually a tall man asked, “How can that be? The tide is coming in and there are so many of them!”
“No,” said Hodja. “There’s only one. Look. There’s one. There’s another one, and there’s another one.”
We laughed together, the teller and I. He had given me a new story and I made my purchase in return.
Remembering this story helped me out of a writing block a couple of weeks ago. All I had to do was focus on “one wave” and not be swamped by a sea of ideas. There’s a lot more to Hodja stories than meets the ears!
NB. There is a protocol which says that if you tell one Hodja story you have to tell seven … so there are six more Hodja stories to come … when the time is right.
All text and photos by Meg
Story Twigs the Imagination: blog by Meg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.