DON'T PAY BAD FOR BAD From The Village Witch Doctor & Other Stories by Amos Tutuola Dola and Babi were good friends in their days. Both were young ladies, and they had loved each other heartily from when they were children. They-always wore the same kind of dress, and they went together everywhere in their village, and to other villages as well. They did everything together, so much so that anyone who did not know their parents believed they were twins. So Dola and Babi went about together until when they grew to be the age for marriage. Because they loved each other so much, they decided within themselves to marry two men who were born of the same mother and father, and who lived together in the same house, so that they might be with each other always. Luckily, a few days after Dola and Babi decided to do so, they heard of two young men who were born of the same mother and father, and who lived together in the same house. So Babi married one of the young men while Dola married the second one, who was older than the first one. So Dola and Babi were very happy now, living together as they had before they had been married in their husbands' house. A few days after their marriage, Dola cleared a part of the front of the house very neatly. She sowed one kola-nut on the spot. After some weeks the kola-nut shot up. Then she filled up one earthen jar with water and she put it before her new kola-nut tree. Then every early morning Dola would go and kneel down before the tree and jar. She would pray to the tree to help her to get a baby very soon, and after the prayer, she would drink some of the water which was inside the earthen jar. After that, she would go back to her room before the other people, in the house woke. Dola did this early every morning, because she believed that there was a certain spirit who came and blessed the kola-nut tree and the water in the night. After some months, the kola-nut tree grew to the height of about one metre. But now the domestic animals of the village began to eat the leaves of the tree and this hindered its growth. One morning, Babi met Dola abruptly as she knelt down before the kola-nut tree and jar and prayed. After she had prayed and then stood up, Babi asked in surprise, 'Dola, what were you telling your kola-nut tree?' 'Oh, this kola-nut tree is my god, and I ask it every morning to help me get a baby soon,' Dola explained calmly, pointing a finger at the tree and jar. When Babi noticed that the animals of the village had eaten nearly all the leaves of the tree, she went back to her room. She took the top part of her large water pot, the bottom of which had broken away. She gave it to Dola, and she told her to shield her kola-nut tree with it so that the animals wouldn't be able to eat its leaves again. Dola took the large pot from her and thanked her fervently. Then she shielded her tree with it, and as from that morning the animals were unable to eat the leaves of the tree. And so it was growing steadily in the centre of the large pot. A few years later, the tree yielded the first kola-nuts. The first kola-nuts that the tree yielded were of the best quality in the village, and because the nuts were the best quality, the kola-nut buyers hastily bought all the nuts, paying a considerable amount of money. Similarly, when the tree yielded the second and third kola-nuts, the buyers bought them with large amounts of money as before. In selling the kola-nuts, Dola became a wealthy woman within a short period. Having seen this, Babi became jealous of Dola's wealth. Jealously, Babi demanded back the water pot: 'Dola, will you please return my large water pot to me this morning?' Dola was greatly shocked. She asked, 'What? The broken water pot without a bottom?' 'Yes, my broken water pot. I want to take it back this morning,' Babi replied with a jealous voice. 'Well, the water pot cannot be returned to you at this time unless I break it into pieces before it can come from around my kola-nut tree,' Dola replied with a dead voice. 'You must not break it or split the head of my water pot before you return it to me!' Babi shouted angrily. 'I say it cannot be taken away from the tree without breaking it or cutting the tree down,' Dola explained angrily. Babi boomed on Dola: 'Yes, you may cut your tree down if you wish to do so. But all I want from you is my water pot!' Dola reminded Babi with a calm voice, 'Please, Babi, I remind you now that both of us started our friendship when we were children. Because of that, don't try to take your water pot back at his time.' 'Yes, of course, I don't forget at any time that we are friends. But at all costs, I want the water pot now,' Babi insisted with a great noise. That revealed to Dola at last that Babi simply wanted to destroy her kola-nut tree so that she might not get the nuts from it to sell any more. She went to the chief of the village. She begged him to help her persuade Babi not to take the head of her water pot back. However, when the chief of the village failed to persuade Babi not to take the water pot back from Dola, he judged the case in favour of Babi and said that Dola must return the water pot to her. Then to her sorrow, Dola's kola-nut tree was cut own, and the water pot was taken away from the tree without breaking, and Dola returned it to Babi. Now, Babi was very happy and she burst out laughing not because of the water pot but because Dola's kola-nut tree had been cut down, as she believed that Dola would not get kola-nuts to sell again. As soon as the water pot was returned to Babi, she and Dola entered the house and they continued their friendship, for Dola did not show in her behaviour towards Babi that her tree which had been cut down was a great sorrow for her. A few months after the tree was cut down, Babi was delivered of a female baby. And on the morning that the baby was named, Dola gave her a fine brass ring as a present. Dola told Babi to put the ring on the baby's neck, brass being one of the most precious metals in those days. Babi, with laughter, took the brass ring from Dola, and with great admiration she put it on the baby's neck immediately. And this brass ring so much beautified the baby that, from her beautiful look, now it seemed as if she was created with it. The brass ring was carefully moulded without any joint. Then ten years passed away like one day. One fine morning, as the baby - who was by then a daughter - was celebrating her tenth birthday, Dola walked gently into Babi's sitting room and said, 'Babi, my good friend. I shall be very glad if you will return my brass ring this morning.' Dola smiled to see that Babi's guests were silent with shock. Babi stood up suddenly, scowling, and shouted, 'Which brass ring?' 'My brass ring which is on your daughter's neck now.' Dola pointed a finger at Babi's daughter's neck, explaining as if she were simply joking. 'This very brass ring which is on my daughter's neck now?' Babi, after clearing her throat, shouted to show disapproval of Dola's demand: 'Dola! You are joking!' Dola scowled and replied softly, 'I am not joking in any way, and I want you to return my brass ring now.' Babi grunted like a pig, 'Hmm!' and begged with extreme misery and with tears rolling down her cheeks, 'Please, my good, friend, don't try to take your brass ring back now. As you know, before the ring can be taken away from my daughter's neck, her head will be cut off first because it is already bigger than the ring!' 'I don't tell you to cut off the head of your daughter, but all I want is my brass ring, and I want it without cutting it.' At last, when Dola still insisted on taking her brass ring back, Babi went to the same chief of the village. She told him that Dola was attempting to kill her daughter. Fortunately, the chief judged the case in favour of Dola when she explained to him how her kola-nut tree was cut down when Babi insisted on taking her water pot back ten years ago. And in the judgement the chief added that the head of Babi's daughter would be cut off on the assembly ground which was in front of his palace, and, also in the presence of all the people of the village, so that everyone might learn that jealousy was bad. Then a special day was fixed for beheading the daughter. When the day was reached, and after all the people of the village had gathered on the assembly ground, and the chief and his prominent people had been seated, then the chief called Babi loudly. He told her to put her ten-year-old daughter in the middle of the circle, and she obeyed. She and her daughter stood wobbling with fear while the swordsman, who was ready to behead the daughter, stood fiercely behind the daughter with a long dazzling sword in his hand. The crowd of people, prominent people, and the chief were so overwhelmed by mercy that all were quiet suddenly while looking at the poor innocent daughter and her mot her Babi, who looked thin and gaunt. It was some minutes before the chief could reluctantly announce to Babi loudly, 'Now, Babi, today is Dola's day. just as Dola's kola-nut tree was cut down ten years ago when you insisted and took back the head of your water pot from her, it is so that the head of your daughter will be cut off now, when Dola's brass ring will be taken away from the neck of your daughter and then it will be given back to Dola!' The gathering mumbled with grief, and then all became quiet at once. Then as the chief closed his eyes with grief, he gave the order to the swordsman to behead Babi's daughter. But, just as the swordsman raised his sword up to cut the head off, Dola hastily stopped him by pulling his arm down, and then she announced loudly, 'It will be a great pity if this daughter of mine is killed, because she has not offended me. No! It was her jealous mother. 'And I believe, if we continue to pay "bad" for "bad", bad will never finish on earth. Therefore, I forgive Babi all that she has done to my kola-nut tree of which she was jealous!' The chief and the rest of the people clapped and shouted loudly with happiness when they heard this announcement from Dola. Then everyone went back to his or her house. And Dola and Babi were still good friends throughout the rest of their lives.