Folk Tales

Malem Dewa

Malim Dewa

M.J. Melalatoa
Translated by Krishna

The Pesangan river winded through the forest like a giant snake. The closer you got to its source the clearer blue its water and thicker the forest around it. Malim Dewa was walking up towards the top of the river. He walked alone, accompanied only by a beautiful dream. In his hand was a lock of hair as large as a duck’s egg. He had been twisting and curling it around his fingers as he walked and he had been walking for days. His heart had been captured by the vision of a woman’s beautiful face, the one whose lock of hair he held in his palm. The beautiful dream made him walk on with spirit despite physical tiredness. The long way he had traversed had been full of problems. He had to crawl through thorny woods, walk over fallen trees that were slippery with moss grown all over them, cross a gaping gorge On the other hand, the song of wild birds brought joy to his soul, the soft breeze whistling though the trees made his journey pleasant. Somewhere from the edge of his imagination, a beautiful face smiled out at him. He was exhausted, he sat down for a rest. His mind was too tired to think of which way he should go. He’d take the road to the right, he thought, they say the way to the right brings success. He got up and started walking again. His mind travelled back to those twinkling eyes. Oh …, I’m getting closer to her, closer to the maiden who has no match on this earth. But his feet were tired. So he sat down again in the shade of a tree. He watched the dancing ripples on the river. From the bag that lay beside him, he took out a flute. He began to play a soft romantic tune on it. Its sweet high notes rose over the trees and pierced the sky. His spirits rose with the music. If only she could hear this music of my soul. Oh …, I hope she can hear it, I hope she can! But perhaps it’s still too vague and distant a music for her ears. I must get closer to her, close enough that she may be drawn to my music. Malim Dewa rose. He hung his bag across his shoulder and started walking. He seemed more lively and more sure of himself. He walked through the day and slept under thé trees at night. One morning when it was still very early, he heard a cock crow.

To start with, he thought that this was only to announce the dawn. He rose, rubbing his eyes. He listened attentively, with his head cocked to one side. His heart jumped in joy. He was close to village, he thought. The cock crowing on and on from the midst of solitude seemed to Malim Dewa to be singing a welcome song for him. It woke him up completely. He was still swinging between excitement and distress, while the dawn approached from behind the eastern-hills.

Malim Dewa walked slowly, watching the dawn as it spread out on the leaves of trees. He felt the forest was getting thinner. The early morning grey and pink began to brighten, spreading light all over the earth. Birds were noisily setting out in sear»»’ of food. Malim Dewa enjoyed the life and beauty around him. He was eager to find the village from which cocks had been calling out. He looked around, but could see nothing. The south was walled by hills. In the east distant grey hills lined the horizon. It was à cold day. The breeze bit into the bones. Malim Dewa was walking slowly, stiff in the joints, when suddenly he heard the sound of laughter. He listened intently. Some people were laughing—women! Although they were still quite far away, Malim Dewa now moved with the careful passion of a cat chasing a mouse. His heart beat fast, his breath was slow like that of a very frightened man. It was as if he was afraid that those women would hear him breathing. Hiding himself behind the bushes, Malim Dewa observed a beautiful panorama. The river widened there and the water was calm. In the middle of it stood a rock. It was like a huge dough-nut sticking out of the water. Malim Dewa sat spellbound, looking at seven naked figures of pure gold. They were bathing and playing around like children.

Malim Dewa sat ready in his heading place
Malim Dewa sat ready in his heading place

One of them squirted water on another’s face. Another pulled the legs of the girl who was lying on the rock, thus dragging her into the water and she screamed as she slipped in. One girl sat on the rock washing her hair. The tips of her long tresses were swept by the river. Watching the water playing among those long locks, Malim Dewa remembered the Continue reading “Malem Dewa”

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