Author: Kay Arikunto Editor: Herlina Sitorus Illustrator: Rita Agustina & Susy Suzanna Translator: Rini Lasman Proofreader: Dameria Damayanti Origin: Kalimantan

In a small hut by the edge of the forest, lived a young man with his mother. The young man’s name was Alun. Everyday, Alun and his mother collected firewood. Whenever they felt tired, Alun’s mother would sing and play a musical instrument called the sampek made from borneo wood. Alun also practiced everyday so he could play the sampek. Finally his fingers could move gracefully across the sampek strings which were similar to guitar strings.

“The carving and the color of this sampek is very beautiful, Mother.” Alun said to his mom. “The notes also sound beautiful.”

Every time Alun went outside to play, he always brought his sampek. He usually took his pet grasshopper with him, too. Alun tied the grasshopper’s leg so it would not fly far. Alun enjoyed going to a park located next to the Wood Castle. The distance was quite far from his house and he had to go through the forest to get there. There were many fruit trees in the park. The visitors could pick the fruits.

Alun liked to entertain the visitors of park. Those who enjoyed Alun’s sampek playing gave coins to Alun. Joyfully, Alun went home and bought some food for his mother.

One day, there was a little girl who was amazed by Alun’s sampek playing. She stayed and listened to Alun until late afternoon. Alun approached the little girl and said hi.

“Hi, little girl, don’t you want to go home?” Alun asked.

“My house is not far from here,” she answered. “I want to be able to play the sampek. Would you teach me?”

Alun nodded and started to teach the little girl how to play the sampek.

Apparently, a kind-hearted King was nearby and saw Alun’s kindness. He gave Alun a glass jar.

“Thank you, Your Majesty. This jar would be my grasshopper’s new home. But since my house is very far from here, it is going to be difficult to bring both my sampek and this jar at the same time. Can I put the jar here for the time being? I would come and get it back tomorrow,” Alun asked.

“Sure, Alun. Put the jar near the banana tree,” replied the King.

The next day, when Alun returned to get the jar, he was shocked. The jar had rolled over and broken. A rooster was standing nearby and it had eaten Alun’s favorite grasshopper. Alun then returned to the park and played the sampek with sad tunes.

The King heard the sad tunes and he approached Alun. The King felt guilty and apologized because the rooster was his. Alun gladly forgave the King.

“You should take the rooster as an exchange for your grasshopper,” the King insisted.

Alun put the rooster in a cage close to a manggo tree.

The next day when Alun returned to the cage, the rooster escaped  from his hands. After looking everywhere for it, he finally found the rooster near a rice barn. Unfortunately, the rooster was dead. Next to it, laid a wooden pestle. The pestle was usually used to ground paddy.

Alun returned to the park and played his sampek sadly. Hearing that, the King apologized. Apparently, one of his helpers threw the pestle at the rooster. He was afraid that the rooster would made a mess and eat the rice in the barn.

“Please take the pestle as an exchange for your rooster,” the King asked.

Alun then put the pestle near a jackfruit tree.

The next day, Alun found his pestle broken into two. Apparently, a jackfruit fell and hit his pestle. Alun was sad because he could not give his mother the pestle.

Just as the day before, the King came and see Alun when he heard the sad sampek song. He apologized one more time because the jackfruit that fell on Alun’s pestle came from his jackfruit tree.

“Please take the jackfruit as an exchange for your pestle,” the King demanded.

Alun put the jackfruit near the palace kitchen.

The next day, Alun returned to the palace kitchen. Alun discovered that someone had eaten his jackfruit. Apparently last night, the King’s daughter had served it to the entire people in the castle.

“Forgive us for eating the jackfruit. We didn’t do it on purpose,” said the King who suddenly appear from the back.  This time the King didn’t come alone. His daughter accompanied him.

Alun was startled when he saw the King’s daughter. She was the little girl who learned how to play the sampek. She was more beautiful than the last time Alun saw her because now she was in her princess dress.

“My dear Alun, please keep teaching my daughter to play the sampek,” the King said. “Near the Wood Castle, I have made a house for you. Ask your mom to live with you.”

This time, Alun’s sampek played a happy tune. Alun smiled and accepted the King’s offer with joy.

Twenty years later, Alun married the King’s daughter. Alun ruled the majestic Wood Castle since then. The people there felt peace. And the beautiful melody from the borneo sampek always played by the people in the castle.

This post is also available in Bahasa Indonesia.

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