The Greedy Peasant

DR Ali Keyhani


In a village near the city of Esphahan lived a peasant named Ahmad who planted watermelons. When summer came, and Ahmad ’s field was full of watermelons, he loaded his donkey with his crop and took them to the bazaar for sale. Everyday he fed his donkey a pound of barley. The donkey was so happy he took the heavy load and looked forward to the feast of barley at the end of a hard day.


One day, Ahmad ’s wife nagged him that he cared more for his donkey than for her, and she asked him to stop giving the donkey a pound of barley so he could buy her a gold necklace . Ahmad became tired of his wife’s nagging and went to see Molla, the wise man of the village, for advice. Ahmad described his problem to Molla. Molla thought a few minutes and said to him that his problem was very complicated.  It needed a creative solution and he would need to think about it overnight. Molla asked him to come back in the morning. Ahmad gave Molla a large watermelon as an advance payment for thoughtfully searching for a right solution to his problem.


When Ahmad came back the next day, Molla was grinning with happiness and said, “After all night consideration and careful analysis, I have found the solution to your problem. Here is my proposed solution. Every day, very carefully hidden away from your wife and the donkey, steal away a few grains of barley. Over time, this will reduce your expenses and give you the money to buy your wife the necklace she wants.” Ahmad gave another watermelon to Molla and went home happy.


A month passed and Ahmad reduced the donkey’s barley to half of a pound. The donkey continued to carry the heavy load of watermelons to the bazaar. The next month, Ahmad continued to steal away even more barley from the donkey, giving the donkey only a quarter of a pound of barley. The donkey continued to take the heavy load of watermelon to the bazaar.


From the money he saved he bought a gold necklace for his wife. He was happy with his cleverness and continued to steal away more and more barley from the donkey. One day from weakness the donkey collapsed and died. Ahmad ran to the Molla crying.


Molla roared in laughter and said, “My dear fellow I said steal away a few grains of barley, not all of them! There is no cure for greediness!”