Hodja and his son went on a journey once. Hodja preferred that his son ride the donkey and that he himself go on foot. On the way they met some people who said:
“Look at that healthy young boy! That is today’s youth for you. They have no respect for elders. He rides while his poor father walks!”
The words made the boy feel very ashamed, and he insisted that his father ride while he walked. So Hodja climbed on the donkey and the boy walked by his side. Soon they met another group.
“Well, look at that! That poor little boy has to walk while his father rides the donkey.”
This time, Hodja climbed onto the donkey behind his son. Soon they met another group, who said:
“Look at that poor donkey! He has to carry the weight of two people.”
After they had passed by these people, Hodja told his son:
“The best thing to do is for both of us to walk. Then no one can complain.”
So they continued their journey on foot. Again they met some others who said:
“Just take a look at those fools. Both of them are walking under this hot sun and neither of them is riding the donkey!”
In exasperation, Hodja lifted the donkey onto his shoulders and said,
“Come on, if we don’t do this, it will be impossible to make people stop talking. It just goes to show how hard it is to escape the opinions of men.”
Please see Parable: Watermelons and Walnuts for a brief profile of Hodja.