Author: Salma Azka Taqiya Editor: Herlina Sitorus Illustrator: Translator: Sari Nursita Proofreader: Ratih Soe Origin: Sulawesi Utara

Once upon a time in Minahasa, North Sulawesi, there lived an old man with his gimpy grandson named Nondo. Everyday, the old man went to the forest to hunt and find firewoods. He sold them at the market to earn their living. Both of Nondo’s parents were long gone.

Everytime the old man went to the woods, Nondo always looked sad. The old man didn’t allow Nondo to come with him. He was afraid that his grandson wouldn’t be strong enough to travel by foot that far. He also always reminded Nondo to lock the door, so that he’d be safe from the beasts.

When the old man returned home, Nondo would welcome him happily.

“Hurray! You’re home, Grandpa,” Nondo said.

“Look, Son, I brought two quails and a gourami from the river,” said the old man while unloading his sack.

“Come on, let’s make grilled fish, Grandpa!” Nondo exclaimed.

While they were grilling the fish, the old man told Nondo stories about the inhabitants of the forest.

“Nondo, did you know what I’ve found in the woods today?” asked the old man.

Nondo shook his head.

“I saw a parrot perching on a tree. It has white feathers and yellow bangs. I also saw some squirrels eating seeds, and suddenly a large snake ambushed them.” The old man said while imitating various animal sounds.

Nondo listened to his grandfather’s stories with a smile on his face. Before he went to sleep, Nondo always imagined meeting the animals. He tried to mimic the animal sounds, just like his grandfather did.

One morning, when his grandfather was about to go to the forest as usual, Nondo stopped him. He was determined to come with his grandfather.

“Grandpa, please, let me go with you to the forest…” said Nondo.

“No, Son! I’m worried that you’d get tired from walking that far,” said his grandfather.

“Boo hoo… I want to see the animals in the woods,” Nondo started to cry.

His grandfather loved him very much. When he heard him cry, his grandfather  relented.

“Alright, you can come. But remember, you always have to walk directly behind me!” He said.

Nondo nodded excitedly. Finally, he’d see the animals his grandfather always talked about.

When they arrived at the forest, Nondo tailed his grandfather closely. Every now and then his grandfather would look behind to check how he was doing. He must be worried that Nondo would stumble on a branch and fall, or that he would slip on a wet ground.

The animals in the forest were amazing. Rabbits, butterflies, squirrels, grasshoppers… It was the first time Nondo saw those animals, so he stopped walking when he watched several birds perching on a mahogany tree. Nondo forgot the time when he played with the birds.

After he was satisfied playing with the animals, Nondo realized that he had lost his grandfather’s trail.

“Grandpa! Grandpa, where are you?” Nondo yelled in panic.

It was getting late and the forest was getting darker. Nondo cried loudly.

“Boo hoo…” Nondo sobbed.

Nondo was crying in fear when he caught a glimpse of some beasts. The hoot of the owls and the screech of Kuow birds rattled him. He was so sorry that he didn’t listen to his grandfather’s order, to always follow him.

Meanwhile, the old man was desperately trying to find his beloved grandson.

“Nondo!” He shouted.

The old man kept calling Nondo’s name. He even traced back the trail he went through with Nondo, but still, he couldn’t find him.

He finally decided to wait for Nondo at home. A few days later, Nondo still hadn’t returned. The old man was devastated from losing his grandson.

One day he heard a strange sound from the trees near his home.

Moopoo… moopoo…

The old man felt that the sound was disturbingly familiar. He went outside and gazed up to the trees.

Moopoo… moopoo…

The sound came from a bird roosting on a tree.

“I’ve never seen that weird bird before,” he said in wonder.

The bird then flew on a branch closer to the old man.

Moopoo… moopoo… moopoo…

The old man was surprised when he realized that the bird was calling for his name; “opoku” or “my grandpa”.

He watched the bird, whose eyes shone with grief. One of its feet was limp. The old man burst in tears. The bird was the incarnation of his beloved grandson, Nondo.

Many of the Moopoo birds were found in Minahasa area, North Sulawesi.

This post is also available in Bahasa Indonesia.

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One Response so far.

  1. Sari Nursita says:

    This story is a bit tricky to translate, as it changes point of view 3 times (Old man – Nondo – Old man). Hopefully it reads okay ^^ Like the story by the way, kind of give me chills when Nondo realizes that he is alone in the woods.

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