THE BEWITCHED HODJA
In his younger days the Hodja used to be very ill-tempered, or so it appeared to his mother-in-law and his wife, who was just a handful of pliable clay in his mother's hands. The neighbors, properly approached by the two women, recommended a sorcerer who, they said, could put a spell on anyone.
He was immediately sent for and soon after arrived, mounted on his donkey. The women would have asked him in, but for the fact that he was known to be most successful when mounted on this special donkey, which was in a way his trademark.
The sorcerer asked for one of the Hodja's shirts. When it was brought, he began to murmur an incantation under his breath, blew on the shirt and put it over the donkey's head. After repeating this operation several times, he handed back the shirt and declared:
"Whoever wears this will be as obedient and as patient as my donkey!"
Unfortunately for the plotters, however, the Hodja had witnessed everything and, knowing the sorcerer and his reputation, guessed what was expected of him. He decided to play the game and see what would happen. Accordingly, he waited until the sorcerer was paid and sent away. Then he entered his house and asked for a clean shirt, saying that it had been a hot day. The women were understandably delighted to comply with the request, and gave him the charmed shirt to put on.
No sooner had he done this than his wife set about to test the charm's efficacy.
"Effendi, I do not feel very well today," she said. "Won't you stay at home and prepare the supper yourself tonight?"
"With pleasure, dearest," replied the Hodja. He stayed at home and cooked the supper. Night came, and the Hodja set the table and all three gathered round it.
But the mother-in-law was still not satisfied and had her own ideas of testing spells.
"You have put too much salt into this soup," she started. "Mind you be more careful when you'll be cooking tomorrow. I also can't see any water on this table - go and get me some. By the way, the poor cat is hungry - cook something for it. Then you can both have supper together."
Well, this was the limit.
Enough, woman!" the Hodja roared. "I've had enough of you for the rest of my life!"
Jumping up, he started to bray like a donkey, kicking and knocking everything about. He slapped his wife smack in the face when she tried to interfere, and said:
"You might have succeeded in getting me to become a donkey! But even with an ass you may only go just so far. After that the beast will revolt and kick the hell out of you!"