Stories in Disguise: Hodja No.3


Why do I notice somethings more than others? Of all I choose to see on my daily walks, why do I register particular images. Is it the clash of messages that interrupts my day dreaming? Does it remind me of something new? Is it the shock of the unexpected?


 This caught my eye and made me react from ” Ah” to “Aha” and then, “Nah!”  I took the photo from the road, outside a large army barracks.

The ideas that popped into my head at the time,  ran from “lamentations of swans” in my last post, to love, to loss, to funerals, to escape and finally to how soldiers might feel driving past and looking up at this sign!

Other signs evoke memories.


 For a few years I used to run miles in a country town with the Hash House Harriers every Monday night. Arrows marked the route we had to follow.


Sometimes, one glance and I’m transported into a story I have told over the years. This is the colour of the African earth under The Udala Tree, in a collection by Margaret Read Macdonald.


Sometimes what I see raises questions I can’t answer. It’s not my question. Whose is it? Who is she?


And I can’t help wondering why they painted this here. Who did? What does it mean?

Perhaps Nasrudin Hodja can throw some light on this …

Late one night, Hodja was slowly walking back to his village. Suddenly, he was aware of the sound of galloping horses. When the moon came out from behind a cloud,  He saw a troop of horsemen heading towards him at speed. As he stood there, he saw himself, in a flash, being captured by slave traders, sold in a land faraway … never to see his family again.

Turning swiftly, he clambered up and over the nearest wall. Finding himself in a graveyard, he ran up to the nearest hole and lay in it very still … hardly breathing.

The men, who’d seen him bolt, were puzzled by this and came to find him. As they peered down at him, they saw Hodja was shaking.

“Are you alright?” they asked. “Do you need help?” No reply. “What are you what doing in that grave?”

“Just because you ask a question,” stammered Hodja, “doesn’t mean there’s a straight-forward answer!” Realising they were honourable men, and that he had been a bit over-dramatic, he added that an answer depended on how you looked at the question.

The real truth, he explained, was simply this. “I am here because you are, and you are here because I am.”

(Adapted from Shah 1973:16)




MacDONALD, Margaret Read. Twenty Tellable Tales: audience participation folktales for the beginning storyteller. H.W. Wilson, 1986.

SHAH, Idries. The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin. London, Pan, 1966.

All text, except quotes marked, & photos ©MegPhilp

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is © under Australian Law