The Guarantee

(Mulla Nasrudin Story)

One day at the King’s court, the King turned to Nasrudin and said, “Mulla. Since you are constantly reminding us of how clever and wise you are, tell me this: can you teach your donkey to read?”

“Absolutely,” replied Nasrudin. “A task like that would present me with no problems whatsoever.”

“Don’t mess with me,” said the King. “Seriously, can you do it?”

“Yes, I mean it,” Nasrudin replied, “and I’ll tell you what: just give me fifty thousand dollars right now, and I’ll guarantee I’ll have this donkey reading within eight years.”

“OK,” said the King. “But that donkey isn’t reading by then, I’ll put you in prison and have you tortured daily.”

So they agreed, and Nasrudin left the court.

The next day, Nasrudin’s friend asked about what happened.

“Are you out of your mind?” he said. “You can barely teach your donkey to stand still, and now you’ve guaranteed that he’ll be reading within eight years. Nasrudin-I don’t see how you’ll be able to escape a long prison sentence for this.”

“Listen,” the Mulla calmly replied, “several years from now, our King will probably be dead or out of power. And even if he manages to last as our King for that long, odds are my donkey will have passed on by then. And in the unlikely event that neither he nor my donkey is gone by seven years time, I’ll still have an entire year to plan my way out of getting punished.”

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