One day Nasreddin Hodja went to market, taking his son with him. There he bought a donkey, and on the way home he let his son ride while he himself walked alongside on foot.
After they had gone some distance they came upon some people who began talking about the pair. “The world is getting crazier and crazier,” they said. “That lout of a son is sitting there at ease on the donkey, making his old father walk alongside dripping with sweat.”
Nasreddin Hodja heard this comment and had his son climb down, and he himself took a seat on the donkey’s back. “Now the people will be satisfied,” he murmured.
Soon they came upon another group who likewise were expressing their thoughts about Nasreddin and his donkey, and indeed, loudly enough that the Hodja could hear them. “Have you ever seen anything like that? That must be an unnatural father who makes his poor boy run on foot while he himself rides proudly along on the donkey!”
The Hodja momentarily halted the donkey. “Climb up here with me!” he said to his son.
A short distance later they came upon another party, who likewise expressed their opinion clearly. “Such animal abuse! Isn’t that shameless, for a cleric to torment such a poor donkey! Couldn’t the two of you use your own legs and give the donkey a little rest?”
The Hodja stopped once again. “Let’s climb off!” he said to his son.
They both dismounted and walked along on foot beside the donkey. But they had not gone far when they came upon another group of people who also had something to say about them. They heaped ridicule upon them:
“Such a cheapskate! It’s just like him to buy a donkey and is then too stingy to use the animal.””He must be afraid that he will rub the fur off its body.”
“Which of the three is the greatest donkey?” “They just might as well carry the donkey home.”
No sooner said than done! Nasreddin Hodja followed this advice.
As soon as the people had gone on their way he said to his son, “If you ever should come into the possession of a donkey, never trim its tail in the presence of other people. Some will say that you have cut off too much, and others that you have cut off too little. If you want to please everyone, in the end your donkey will have no tail at all.”