WHEN YOU ARE IN THE NETHER WORLD
One day the Hodja was returning home from a village. It was one of the rare days he did not have a donkey to ride on. Having walked all day, he was very tired. Just then he happened to pass by a cemetery and noticed a grave that had partly caved in.
"I wonder," he mused, "if I were to get in that grave and lie down in this exhausted state, would the angels take me for dead and subject me to the usual questions put to the dead? I could then learn these questions and be prepared for them when I really die.
Yes, it seemed a good idea! He took off his clothes, so as not to soil them and to look more like a corpse, then he lay down in the grave. It was not long before he heard a great jingle of bells, a noise of shouting men and running animals. This wasn't exactly what he had bargained for.
"Alas!" he thought. "What an unlucky day for this to have happened! It must be the Day of Judgment!"
He was out of the grave at one jump, forgetting all about the bundle of clothes he had left behind, and tried to run away.
The noises he had heard were those made by a caravan of mules laden with pottery and china. At that moment the mules had just reached the spot when a naked figure, the Hodja himself, suddenly leaped out apparently from the bowels of the earth. There was nothing the owners could do to pacify the frightened animals. The whole cemetery was strewn with bits and pieces of pottery and chinaware.
The potters, letting the mules be, caught the Hodja instead and asked:
"Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"I am from the nether world, and have just come to have a look at this one," replied the Hodja.
"Oh, yes? You'll learn about it, have no fear." And the Hodja was given the beating of his life.
In his naked and bruised state, he barely managed to crawl home. He looked a very poor sight indeed!
On seeing him, his wife anxiously inquired: What on earth has happened to you, Hodja Effendi? Where have you been?"
"I went and got mixed up with people from the nether world. I have just returned from there."
"And what is going on in the nether world?"
"Nothing much, if you don't frighten the potters' mules!"