One day the Hodja and his friends made a bet. Nasreddin Hodja was going to stay outside all night long and endure the chilly October cold without a coat or a fire. If the Hodja could bear the cold without cheating, then his friends were supposed to treat him to a nice dinner. If the Hodja quit before the daylight or tried to deceive his friends, then he would be the one to prepare a good meal for all.
A few hours into the night, the weather turned really cold and Nasreddin Hodja started to shiver. When his fingers turned numb he started to contemplate giving up. When he was just about to quit, he saw the faint light of a candle at the window of a distant house. He imagined a warm fire looking at the dim flutters of the candle and forgot his own predicament. The candlelight from afar continued to distract him all night, and he was thus able to bear the cold and successfully complete his bargain.
The next morning when his friends asked the Hodja how he fared, he told them the story of the feeble candlelight he saw at a distance, and how it helped him think of warm places and entertain himself all night long.
“The sight of the candle kept me warm and sane, and that’s how I managed to stay out until the daybreak,” he said. Hodja’s friends, not willing to lose a good dinner, were not prepared to accept defeat.
“That’s cheating,” they said. “You were kept warm by the heat of that candle. You were not supposed to resort to any help. You lost the bet. We want our dinner.” They argued back and forth, and at the end, Nasreddin Hodja had to yield. He invited them all for dinner.
When the guests arrived at the Hodja’s house, there was no food in sight.
“It’s cooking,” the Hodja assured them.
They passed the time for a while with small talk but the dinner was still not ready. After a couple of hours, they got really hungry and asked the Hodja why the dinner was taking so long.
“Come,” the Hodja said, “I’ll show you.” They all went into the kitchen. Above the fireplace, there was a large cauldron hanging. But beneath the cauldron, there was no fire, instead, there was one single candle burning.
“What is this, Hodja?” questioned the annoyed guests. “How can a weak little candlelight cook the food in a large cauldron?”
“If a weak little candlelight can warm me from the window of a faraway house, then it can certainly cook the food in a cauldron placed right above it!” Hodja quipped.