Chickens in, chickens out

There's a story my daughter and I find very apt for those occasions when you feel you have a problem but in the course of trying to solve it you make things so much worse that simply returning to the status quo is a great relief. Sometimes we shorthand it to each other by saying, 'Chickens in, chickens out.' We know what we mean!

It goes like this:

Full House

One of Nasreddin Hodja’s neighbours asked the Hodja for some advice on how to manage his large family in his tiny little house.

“Hodja Effendi,” he lamented, “our quarters are so small, we can’t all fit in. Me and my wife, my mother-in-law, 3 kids... We are cramped up in our puny cottage. You are a wise man, you would know of a solution, please tell me what to do!”

“How many chickens do you have in the barn?” Hodja asked.

“Why, Hodja Effendi, I have 5 chickens and a rooster.”

“Take them all into the house!”

“Mercy!” the poor peasant protested, “Hodja Effendi, the house is small without the chickens.”

“Try it!” Nasreddin Hodja insisted, “You will be grateful to me.”

The neighbour was not convinced but he didn’t dare question the wisdom of the Hodja. He took the chickens and the rooster inside the house. The next morning he ran to Hodja’s house.

“Hodja Effendi, it is worse now. Me, my wife, my mother-in-law, 3 kids, 5 chickens and a rooster! We can’t fit in at all!” he bemoaned.

However, Nasreddin Hodja was not moved.

“You have a donkey, don’t you?”

“Yes, Hodja Effendi, I have one old donkey.” answered the man.

“Take the donkey in!” said the Hodja.

No matter how much the neighbour objected, Nasreddin Hodja maintained that it was for the best and the hopeless man did as he was told. The next morning, he ran back to Hodja’s house, this time more despairingly than ever. “Hodja Effendi! It is not possible. The wife, the mother-in-law, the kids, the chickens, the rooster and the donkey! We had a terrible night. There is no room to breathe.”

“If I remember correctly, you had two lambs, did you not?”

“Oh, no! Hodja Effendi, don’t tell me to take the lambs in. There is no room!”

“Don’t worry, my friend,” the Hodja assured the desperate man, “You will thank me in the end.”

The neighbour, hoping the Hodja knows something that he doesn’t, took the two lambs in that night. The next morning he was at Hodja's doorstep, wretched.

“Hodja Effendi, what are you doing to us? The house is packed full. My mother-in-law is threatening to kill me, my wife is threatening to leave me. This is not working at all.”

Nasreddin Hodja considered for a moment, then he said: “Now, take all the live stock out of the house. Chickens, rooster, donkey and lambs; all back to the garden, back to the barn, back to the shed. Take them all out!”

Next morning, the neighbour was once again at Hodja’s house. “Ahh, Hodja Effendi, you are indeed a wise man. You solved my problem. Now, our house is so large, so roomy, so much space for everyone, kids can play, we can sleep, everyone is happy.” he said, “Thank you and may Allah bless you!”