Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cingirdakli Hoca : "I know hypocrisy when I see it."

Marash Girl's Hayastantsi friend was telling her about his classmate who searched for years for the perfect wife; his classmate wanted a woman who was devout, who was holy.  He finally found her and married her.

"And then what happened?" Marash Girl asked.

Nonplussed by the question, her guest answered, "My friends had two children and lived happily ever after."

Marash girl was relieved, because she had grown up with the story of Cingirdakli Hoca (Jungur Dakla Hodja),  a story from the depths of her childhood.  Late at night, from the darkness of her bedroom, she would hear the old folks talking in their multiple languages, laughing at the jokes from the old country, and crying at the loss they had experienced in that country.

A story that was a favorite, repeated often enough so that to this day, Marash Girl remembers, was the fable of Jungur Dakla Hodja.  It goes like this.

A faithful young Muslim man, wanting to marry, looked for years for a devout woman to be his wife.  He finally found her.  She was so holy that she would veil herself whenever she was anywhere that a man might see her face, even in her own home.  She was so holy that when she went out on the back balcony, she would veil herself so that male birds would not chance to see her face.  The young man was joyous; he had found the perfect wife.

One day he had to travel to a distant land for business.  He was so in love with his wife that he wanted to return to her as soon as possible, and so he shortened his trip by a day.  Arriving home late at night, filled with happiness to be reunited with his wife, he entered his boudoir only to find his wife in bed with another man.  He could not bear it.  He quietly left the house, saddled his horse, and kept traveling until he reached Istanbul, two days distant.

As he rode into the city, he noticed a holy man, a Hodja, who was walking barefoot with bells on his ankles and toes.  Curious, he asked a passerby why the Hodja was wearing bells on his ankles and toes.  Oh, said the local, that is our holiest of holies, Cingirdakli Hoca (Jungur Dakla Hodja).  He is so holy that he wears bells on his ankles and toes to alert the little bugs and ants to his foot fall so that they will have time to scurry out of his path before he might step on them and hurt or kill them.  He is so holy that he doesn't even want to harm an ant.  Registering this information, the sad young man traveled on, and soon was surrounded by the gendarmes of the town.  "You are under arrest," they announced, grabbing him from his horse.  "But why?" he asked.  "A wealthy home in this town has been robbed of its gold and jewels and you are the only person who could have done it; no one else in this town would steal from their neighbor," replied the gendarmes.  They dragged him to the jailhouse in preparation to imprison him, and began questioning him as to where he had hidden the jewels. 

When the young man replied, "The jewels are in the home of Cingirdakli Hoca (Jungur Dakla Hodja)," the angered gendarmes cried out, "But that could not be," the gendarmes. "He is the Holiest of Holies.  The Sultan will hang you for hsuch blasphemy!"

The gendarmes hastened the young man to the Sultan. 

"You will be put to death for your blasphemy, young man," commanded the Sultan.

"Wait," the young man insisted.   "Just go to the Hoca's (Hodja's) home and you will find the jewels."

The Sultan agreed, and ordered the gendarmes to return the young man to prison while the gendarmes searched the home of Jungur Dakla Hodja.  Indeed, as the reader may have guessed by now, the gendarmes found the gold and jewels hidden in the home of Cingirdakli Hoca (Jungur Dakla Hodja).  Amazed and horrified, the gendarmes returned the prisoner to the Sultan who asked the young man,  "But how did you know?"

The young man answered with sorrow, "Hah Avratum, Hah Cingirdakli Hoca (Jungur Dakla Hodja)."

(Roughly translated: My wife, Jungur Dakla Hodja, it's the same thing.)


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