One day a poor man was passing through the market of Aksehir. He came across the shop of a grilled meat vendor, and had a sudden craving for some grilled meat. Alas! The poor man had no money to afford the meat. So, instead, taking a few pieces of bread from his pocket, he held them to the smoke emanating from the grill, and then ate them.
He was about to leave when the vendor grabbed him by the arm.
‘Hey! Wait there! You can leave only after you pay!’ shouted the shopkeeper.
The poor man was shocked at this and refused to pay as he had not bought grilled meat from the shopkeeper.
But, the shopkeeper was adamant. He would not listen to any argument. The man and the shopkeeper argued for a long time.
Finally, both the parties decided to see the judge – Nasreddin Hodja – and settle the matter.
After listening to both of them, Hodja turned to the poor man.
He said, ‘Give me all your money.’
Hodja’s words shocked the poor man. Nevertheless, he handed over his bag of money to the judge. Nasreddin held the bag to his ears and jingled them, making sure it was not empty. He then emptied the coins from the bag on to a table and began counting them one by one. When he had finished every single coin on the table, he turned to the shopkeeper.
‘Did you hear the sound of the coins?’ he asked the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper nodded in approval and beamed.
Hodja then put all the coins back into the bag and handed it over to the poor man. The poor man looked taken aback.
He then turned to the shopkeeper and said, ‘The sound of these coins is the right price for your smoke. You sold your smoke to this poor man and now he has rightly paid you with the sound of his coins.’