Feb 18, 2011


To celebrate the Year of the Hare, the tale of the Hodja and the hare.

The Year of the Hare started on February 3, 2011, the day after Groundhog
Day. Greetings and good wishes. [You have to admit, on this fourteenth - oops, fifteenth - day of the Year of the Hare, that the promise of dazzling speed has been very fully fulfilled.]

One day the Hodja, wandering around the countryside, had the great luck
to catch a hare. Hares were extremely, unbelievably, rare in his country.
This was the first one he'd ever seen, and the first one he'd ever heard
of anyone else seeing, either, and his excitement was immense.

Bigger than a rabbit, he muttered, hurrying home, much bigger, but a sort
of rabbit, and has the speed of the wind (it had been an extremely lucky
capture.) His mind whirled with interest in the hare he carried in his
bag, squirming and kicking occasionally, but firmly held.

"Stick this in the big trunk," he told his wife, "No, I'll do it myself,"
and he put the bag in the box. "On no account touch it," he told her,
"I'm just off to get some friends to look at it, it's amazing." And he
rambled off to fetch his mates.

Now the wife was intrigued, which was natural, and she opened the box
just a little way, which was foolish, and took out the bag, which was
disobedient, and opened it up just a little way to see what this amazing
thing was the old bugger was on about, which was disastrous. The hare
leapt out and shot through the open door at a rate that left the wife not
just breathless, but almost doubting her senses that some sort of animal
had indeed been here for her to see some millisecond ago.

The wife decided that just leaving nothing in the bag would be an
unnecessarily pessimistic ploy in the never ending brush warfare that
goes on between married couples ("Marriage is a battle to the death,
which no man of honour should avoid." G.K. Chesterton) and so she slipped
one of those tin measures, with a big metal ear, into the bag,, and
put it back in the box, and closed the box, and tried to leave everything
as she remembered it had been.

The Hodja turned up after a couple of hours with those of his mates he'd
managed to detach from the cafe, and they all gathered round the box. The
Hodja opened the box, took out the bag, and shook the measuring jug to
the floor. Everyone looked at it in silence for what seemed quite a long
time. "There are sixteen of those in a bushel," said the Hodja at last.

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