One day The Hodja and his friends made a bet. Hodja was going to stay outside all night long and endure the chilly October cold without a coat or a fire.
If Hodja could bear the cold without cheating, then his friends were supposed to treat him to a nice dinner. If Hodja quit before the day light or tried to deceive his friends, then he would be the one to prepare a good meal for all.
A few hours into the night, the weather turned really cold and Nasreddin Hodja started to shiver. When his fingers turned numb he started to contemplate giving up. When he was just about to quit, he saw the faint light of a candle at the window of one of the distant houses.
He imagined a warm fire looking at the dim flutters of the candle and forgot his own quandary. The candle light from afar continued to distract him all night and he was thus able to bear the cold and successfully complete his bargain.
The next morning when his friends asked The Hodja how he fared, he told them the story of the feeble candle light he saw at a distance, and how it helped him think of warm places and entertain himself all night long.
`The sight of the candle kept me warm and sane, and that’s how I managed to stay out until the day break.’ he said. Hodja’s friends, not willing to lose a good dinner, were not prepared to accept defeat.
`That’s cheating.’ they said, `You were kept warm by the heat of that candle. You were not supposed to resort to any help.
You lost the bet. We want our dinner.’ They argued back and forth, and at the end Nasreddin Hodja had to yield. He invited them all for dinner. When the guests arrived at Hodja’s house, there was no food in sight.
`It’s cooking.’ Hodja assured them.
They passed the time for a while with small talk but the dinner was still not ready. After a couple of hours, they got really hungry and asked the Hodja why the dinner was taking so long.
`Come,’ Hodja said, `I’ll show you.’ They all went into the kitchen. Above the fireplace there was a large cauldron hanging. But beneath the cauldron, there was no fire, instead, there was one single candle burning.
`What is this, Hodja?’ questioned the annoyed guests. `How can a weak little candle light cook the food in a large cauldron?’
`If a weak little candle light can warm me from the window of a far away house, then it can certainly cook the food in a cauldron placed right above it!’ Hodja quipped.
Candle Light – Mullah Nasruddin Stories