Sometimes it feels like there is no justice in this world. Evil people prosper. Good people go unrewarded.
Let me tell you the story of Dadi. I know it well. We are from the same village.
Dadi called himself a child soldier but seventeen is no longer a child. And Dadi was seventeen when he joined the rebels and headed north. He marched with them by day. He slept with them in damp forests by night.
He took part in the many atrocities the rebels were famous for. When it came to the chopping off of hands, he was often the one who wielded the machete. He helped set fire to villages. He participated in rapes and murders.
But finally, after many cruel years, the civil war ended. Rebels and child soldiers returned to their homes. Dadi returned to our village. With blood on his hands, but riches in his pockets. Riches stolen from northern mines.
And he was made welcome! The elders said, “He must be forgiven. These child soldiers cannot be held responsible. He must be given his plot of farmland like the other young men.” Perhaps it was his riches that swayed the elders? His riches certainly swayed the young women of our village. Especially the beautiful ones. Like Claudette.
And in the end Dadi married Claudette too. Even though she had been promised to me. And was that justice? Was that fair punishment for his crimes? To be rewarded with a beautiful wife. And a fruitful one too.
Claudette bore him five sons. All born healthy and bright-minded. The crops on his farm plot prospered too. They grew firm and tall. Certainly taller than mine.
But in one thing, Dadi was not so blessed. His years of sleeping in damp forests had damaged his heart.
“But I will give you these pills,” said the visiting doctor. “If the chest pains strike, take two instantly. Keep them away from your children. They are dangerous, highly toxic.”
Aha, I thought. Will this be Dadi’s punishment? That one of his sons will find these pills, red like town-shop sweets? Swallow them?
But no. “See,” said the doctor. “The bottle’s lid is child-proof.”
Out at the farmlands one day, hidden by bushes, I watched Dadi swaggering amongst his crops. My jealousy grew huge. A longing for murder gripped my heart. And there was no-one else around who could bear witness.
But I stayed hidden. I am not a man of violence. Yet as I watched, Dadi fell down onto his fertile soil, clutching at his weak heart.
“Help!” he screamed to the empty sky.
I did not move. Perhaps justice was visiting him at last? How could I interfere with justice?
But no! Once more Dadi was blessed and lucky. Rewarded instead of punished. A passing stranger heard his cries: a woman dressed in the clothing of the northern states. She came running and knelt beside him.
“How can I help you, sir?”
“My pills!” he screamed again. “Quick. Here in my pocket! Put two on my tongue or I will die.”
What do you think? Will Dadi’s life be saved or will justice prevail?