A gift of melons

Once upon a time, on some day of some year, Mirali and his father had quite good results in growing melons. Mirali said to his father:

- Listen, dad, there are no melons like ours anywhere else. I'm going to give a bunch of them as a gift to the padishah*!

- Do as you wish, my son, but the padishah won't give you anything in return, even if he gets melons as a gift - the dad replied.

- To hell with him if he doesn't - said Mirali.

Mirali loaded his best melons on his donkey and set off on his journey.


Padishah Soltansoyun saw from afar that Mirali was getting close, and he stood at the fortress's gates like a gatekeeper would. When Mirali, who had no idea of what was going on, was about to enter, Soltansoyun told him:

- Hey, young man, where are you going?

- I want to give some melons to Soltansoyun as a gift - Mirali replied.

- You dummy! It'd be much better for you to sell those melons at the bazaar rather than gift them to Soltansoyun, who would give you nothing in return and leaves you empty-handed! - Soltansoyun said.

- He sure won't, and he doesn't need to, but at least I'll show him how sweet my melons are - Mirali let out, then went through the gate and started going towards the padishah's palace.


Before Mirali arrived, Soltansoyun managed to quickly put his regal clothes back on and sit on his throne as if nothing happened. Mirali approached him and said:

- Here, Padishah, I brought you some melons.

- There's nothing good in your melons and I won't give you anything for them. Take them back! - said Soltansoyun.

- You won't give anything? Well, screw this! I already said it anyway! - Mirali replied.

- Hey, young man, what did you already say? - asked Soltansoyun.

- I said what I just said, which was clear and intelligible and doesn't require any further questioning - replied Mirali.

Soltansoyun thought for a bit, then gave Mirali a handful of coins and let him go.


When he walked out, the padishah's courtiers said:

- O Padishah, listen. If you're going to give so much money to everyone who brings melons to our palace, our treasury's going to get empty.

- Not everyone who brings melons gets that much money. I didn't give him money for his fruits, but for his answer - replied Soltansoyun.

- But how is he any more special than others? - one of the vizirs asked.

- You'll understand how special he is if you try to take away this money that was given to him only with the help of words.

- Allow me, o Padishah, to take this money back from him and bring it back here - said one of the vizirs, who then chased after Mirali.


As he reached him in the middle of his journey, the vizir shouted:

- Hey, young man, wait! The money was given to you in vain and I won't leave it to you!

Mirali, holding his donkey, replied:

- Right, I've stopped, now go on and talk. Let's see what you have to say.

The vizir then asked:

- Where's the middle of the earth? Guess that one!

Mirali answered:

- So you want to know where it is, huh? It's under the hoof of my donkey's right front leg.

- How do you know that? - the vizir was surprised.

- Don't ask me how I know that, but if you don't believe me, I'll wait, you'll measure, and we'll see - replied Mirali.

The vizir, defeated by Mirali, went back to the padishah's palace.


- Well, did you get the money back? - the people surrounding the padishah asked.

- No... I've returned empty-handed - replied the vizir.

Then another person, with the permission of the padishah, caught up with Mirali and asked him:

- Hey, young man! Guess how many stars there are in the sky, or hand over that money and get out of here!

Mirali answered:

- Wow, another champion! There are exactly as many stars in the sky as there are hairs on my donkey's body. Don't believe me? Take it and count all of them.

And then that other person had to go back to the palace empty-handed again.


And another person, again, caught up with Mirali and asked:

- Hey, young man, what's the white chicken in the sky cackling about? If you know, tell me, but if you don't, give me the money and disappear from here!

- I do hear that white chicken's voice - said Mirali thoughtfully - but I can't make out what it's talking about. If you can, give me your horse. I'll sit on it and listen, because it's taller than my donkey. Maybe when I am closer to that white chicken, I will be able to make out what she's saying.

The man gave Mirali his horse, and Mirali, getting on it, settled down and said:

- Ah, now I can hear its voice clearly.

- And what have you heard? - asked the man.

- The white chicken says "Get on that horse and go, the donkey will be enough for that guy" - Mirali answered, then whipped the horse and galloped off.


And that man, who had lost his horse and failed to get the money, sat on Mirali's donkey and went back to the palace. The padishah then said:

- Now have you seen what kind of person that Mirali guy is?

They all sympathized with those whom Mirali had murdered with words, and decided to say "don't fight the strong, don't run a race with the fast*".



*padishah: a superlative sovereign title originating in Persia. It basically means "great king". Among the people with this title are Suleyman the Magnificent of Ottoman Empire, the Shah of Iran, the Shahanshah of the Mughal empire, and even one Mongol ruler after his conversion to Islam.

*Don't fight the strong, don't run a race with the fast: Russian proverb, which has a variant with rich people. Basically means: avoid enmity with powerful people. Here, don't try to outsmart this smart dude with his melons. I didn't find a Turkmen version of this proverb, which means this tale might have actually been written in Turkmen SSR under Soviet rule, or I just cannot access the Turkmen net? idk

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