There was a villager who used to dive well. If anything dropped inside the well by accident, he would dive and bring it to the surface. The king was very pleased with him for his efforts and gave him a trophy. It was a bronze statue of a Greek soldier. The diver was very, very pleased with the statue and he brought it home.
His village head heard that the diver had received something special from the king, so he became jealous. He said to the diver, “Please, can you sell this statue to me? It is so beautiful. It is such a precious thing.”
The diver said, “No, I cannot sell it. The king himself has given this to me, and it means so much to me. I really treasure it.”
The village head said, “Next week I am inviting my friends to my house for a party. I want to place this statue on the table to decorate it. That is why I am asking to have it.”
The young man said, “I cannot sell it to you, but I can loan it to you for a short time. For a week or so I can loan it to you, but then you have to return it. When your guests go away, you can return it.”
The village head said, “Definitely, definitely I will give it back to you. It is just a temporary loan.”
The young man gave the statue to the village head, and the village head secretly asked some of his workers to cast an earthen statue in exactly the same mould.
A week passed and the young man came to the village head to retrieve his statue. He trusted the village head so much that he did not suspect anything. The statue had been in a special box, and the village head gave the same box back to the young man. Then he thanked the young man profusely.
The young man said, “I am so happy that I was able to help you.”
Then the great diver went home, only to discover there was no bronze statue inside the box. It had become an earthen statue. The diver cried out, “That rogue! He has cheated me!”
He rushed to the house of the village head and accused him of substituting an earthen statue for his bronze one.
The village head said, “No, no! Whatever you gave me, I have returned in its original condition.”
The diver said, “How can it be? How can what was bronze now be earthen?”
The village head said, “It is so simple. I washed your statue a few times. Perhaps that is why it changed its colour. The bronze coating washed away. Now it is no longer bronze; it is earthen.”
In silence the young man cursed the village head but, alas, what could he do? He returned home feeling very sad.
A few months later, the wife of the village head was fetching water from the well. She was using a most valuable bronze vessel. Alas, it fell into the water and immediately sank to the bottom of the well. The village head went from person to person begging them to dive into the water. A few of the villagers tried, but nobody was successful because the well was so deep. Only that particular diver was capable of doing it. Finally, the village head was compelled to resort to the young man who had received the trophy from the king.
When the village head approached him, the young man said, “Not today. It is too late. Tomorrow morning I shall come here to the well and help you.”
The village head said, “Do you still remember that unhappy experience with the statue?”
The diver said, “No, no, I do not believe in cherishing that kind of unfortunate experience. I have forgiven you. I have forgotten everything. Now I am quite happy. As long as I was harbouring that memory, I suffered, but now I have forgiven you completely. That is why I am very, very happy to help you.”
The village head was very relieved. He said, “I wish we could have more people like you in our village.”
The following morning the young man was supposed to come and dive for the bronze vessel. But in the middle of the night he secretly visited the well. Nobody was there to see him. He dove into the water, found the bronze vessel and took it home.
The following day he went to the well as agreed. He approached the village head and said, “Now I have come to do your work. I shall do the needful.”
The village head and his wife and children were extremely happy. They were confident that the young man would be successful. In front of them, he dove to the bottom of the well. Alas, all he brought up was an earthen pot. The village head cried, “No, no! It was not earthen. It was bronze!”
The young man said, “What can I do? That is the only vessel I could find. If you prefer, you can ask somebody else to dive, or if you want me to dive again, I can.”
The village head’s wife was crying and crying. Meanwhile, the village head was puzzled. He said, “How could this happen?”
The young man said, “It is most extraordinary, but if you want me to dive again, I can.”
The village head said, “All right, all right, again try. This time you will get the other pot, I am sure.”
The young man dove into the well, but this time he came up empty-handed. He said, “I have been trying and trying, but I could not find anything else at the bottom of the well. The earthen pot that I found the first time is all there is to be found.”
The village head and his wife were so miserable that they had lost their bronze vessel.
That night the village head secretly came to the great diver’s home and whispered, “Please take your bronze statue back.”
He gave back the young man’s real trophy. Then the diver very smilingly said, “Please take your bronze vessel.”
You can say that this is a story of tit for tat, but in the end both of them finally became happy.