Boki and Soki

In Bukhara lived a greedy, very greedy bai* named Boki, who was ready to strangle himself for just one kopek. There was no one as stingy and greedy as him and he was very proud of this. One joker wanted to laugh at him and said:

- You consider yourself an unsurpassed miser in vain. In Samarkand lives another bai named Soki. As stingy as he is, he'll peck at you without a beak!

This message really troubled Boki, but he said with annoyance:

- Even if that Soki guy was Plato, he can't be more of a notorious niggard than me! What a miracle that would be, right?**


And, having hired a cart for himself, Boki hit the road to Samarkand. There, the two penny-pickers got to know each other. Both of them tried to prove their superiority to the other. Boki was the one to begin:

- Brother Soki-bai, I had to drop by at your city for business purposes. I brought some tea here, but it doesn't sell well! Please lend me two silver coins before tomorrow!

Soki thought for a while and finally decided to lend two silver coins on their first meeting, on the condition that by the next morning the debt would be repaid to him with a profit of half a tenga*.

Having received two silver coins, Boki thought: "With such fame I did immediately fall for the bait - no, I see, he's quite far from me!"

Appeased, he returned to Bukhara on the same day.


Soki waited for a day, then two:

- I lived to be forty and I didn't even give anyone a single copper coin! Who's that guy who came from Bukhara and stole me my two silver coins?

Without thinking much longer, he hired a cart for himself and hit the road to Bukhara.


Learning about Soki's arrival, Boki told his wife and children:

- I'm going to pretend to be dead. You'll cry mournfully over me, and if they ask for me, tell them that I suddenly passed last night.

When Soki came to Boki's house, the family played along and said what they were told to say. Expressing deep condolences, Soki asked for permission to see the deceased.

- I was a close friend of Boki: in case he'd die, he requested that I wash and bury him. So now I'll bring the washer!

And, after some time away, after buying four bagged needles, Soki brought with him two washers. Then, after ordered two bundles of dry thorns and a cauldron of hot water, he made everyone else leave the room where the "dead man" was laying, except for the washers. He sat down at his head and whispered in his ear:

- Now I've got you, give me back my two silver coins or I'll stab you with four needles!

The "dead man" remained silent. Soki poked at him with a needle, but Boki still made no sound.

- Damn you! - shouted Soki - Will you give me back my damn two tengas or not? If not, I'll lay you on thorns and wash you with boiling water!

The "dead man" remained still. Soki scattered the thorns on the floor, pur the undressed Boki on them and turned him from side to side a couple times. When, much to his surprise, it still made no difference, he started pouring boiling water on Boki, ordering the washers to rub him harder. After the washing, Soki wrapped the "dead man" in a shroud, prepared him for the funeral, but again, bending down to his ear, he said:

- Hey, you know, if you don't give me my two silver coins back, I'll bury you alive. You won't get rid of me with such tricks!

The "dead man" still made no sound. They put him inside a coffin and carried it to the cemetery. As Soki laid him in the grave, he repeated once more:

- Boki, have mercy on your soul! If you agree to give me my money back now, I'll let you go, and if not, I'll tightly close the lid with a heavy slab, and then you will really die!

Boki did not even make any move. Soki covered the hole with a slab. The men who were attending the funeral read the Quran over the grave, and then went home.


But Soki still didn't believe that Boki was really dead. He thought "Of course, Boki will get out of his grave during the night, and I'll catch him", and decided to lay down behind the nearest mound and watch.

At midnight, Boki still hadn't risen out of the grave. In the cemetery came running five or six thieves who began to share some loot between themselves. The thieves were sitting not very far from Boki's grave: they shared everything except the sword, which everyone wanted. In a heated argument over that very sword, one thief suggested: "Whoever cuts in half a recently buried man in one stroke will get the sword!"

But as soon as they dragged the recently buried Boki out of the grave, he came out of his slumber and loudly shouted:

- Hey, dead fellas! Rise up, let's not fall into the hand of these robbers!

Soki, who was lying nearby, got up and yelled:

- We are up! Others, get up!

The thieves, in pure terror, threw the stolen things. Two of them died of a heart attack, and the rest, running from the cemetery to their leader, told him about what happened. But their leader still didn't want to believe them and went to the cemetery to see what was the matter.


Stealthily, he crawled from grave to grave and suddenly saw two people sitting by a gaping pit and splitting the loot between themselves. He crept closer and listened:

- All things are divided - said Soki - Now give me my two silver coins back!

- Well, thanks to them you received a lot of valuable things - Boki objected - aren't your two silver coins repaid already?

- No - persisted Soki - it was a happy accident that caused us to get those things, my money wasn't any part of it, now return your debt!

Then Boki noticed a man behind Soki: he wore a new skullcap and it was sideways.

- Here, take this instead of your two silver coins! - said Boki, tearing off the skullcap from the thief's head.



*bai: Turkic honorific meaning "chieftain", given to leaders of rulers of various-sized areas in the Turkic world.
*tenga: the former currency of Central Asia, which was minted in various aread. In this story it appears to be Bukharan tenga.

**I'm not sure how to translate this phrase, help would be appreciated!

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