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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Timun Mas - A Folktale from Central Java (My Ver.)

A long time ago, there was a farmer couple. They were living in a village near a forest. They lived happily, but their life would be much much happier if they had any children. They hadn’t had any children yet for more than 20 years of their marriage. Every day they prayed to the God for a child.

One day a giant passed their home. He heard what they were praying. The giant then gave them a cucumber seed.

“Plant this modified-cucumber-seed, when it is ripe, eat the golden cucumber and do a “WooHoo” at full moon night. Then you’ll get a daughter,” said the giant.

“Thank you, Giant,” replied the couple.

“But in one condition, in her 17th birthday, you must give her to me,” said the Giant.

The couple wanted a child so much that they agreed without thinking first. The next day, the farmer couple planted the cucumber seed on their backyard. Each day they took care of the growing plant so carefully. A few months later, a golden cucumber grew from the plant. The cucumber was getting heavier and bigger each day. When it was ripe, they picked it. Cautiously they ate the cucumber and how surprised they were when they found it worked. The wife was pregnant. After nine months, she delivered a beautiful baby. They were so happy. They named the baby Timun Mas (Eng: Golden Cucumber).

Years were passing by and Timun Mas had grown into a beautiful girl. Her parents were very happy. But their happiness turned to fear when her 17th birthday came. The giant returned to ask for their promise. He was going to take Timun Mas away. The farmer tried to be calm.

“Just a moment, please. Timun Mas is playing. My wife will call her over,” he said.

Then the farmer came to his daughter.

“My child, as your father, I have done the most unforgivable mistake in the whole of my life by making an agreement with a giant,” he said. “I must give you to him when you are 17. Forgive me, my child.”

“It’s not all your fault, daddy. You don’t have to worry. I’ll be just fine.” Timun Mas calms her father.

So the father gave his lovely daughter to the giant. But before he gave her to the giant, the father asked the giant what he will do to Timun Mas.

“I will make her as my lunch!” said the giant.

“Why do you eat humans? There are lots of foods that you can eat instead of human. You can eat fruits or vegetables if you want,” said the father sadly.

“No, I will eat her. You have promised that you will give your child to me, haven’t you? It’s none of your business what I’m going to do to your child,” said the giant angrily.

The couple was very sad about her leaving. But they didn’t want the giant to eat Timun Mas. Then the father gave Timun Mas a little bag.

“Keep this with you. This will help you from the giant.”

Meanwhile, the giant had been waiting for too long. He became impatient. But finally, the couple gave Timun Mas to the giant.


On the way back home, the giant suddenly felt so compassion for the kindness and integrity showed by the farmer couple. He then disposed of his intention for eating Timun Mas and asked her to teach him how to eat fruits and vegetables. Then Timun Mas taught the giant how to eat fruits and vegetables.

“Before you can eat them, you have to plant them or find them in the forest. But be very careful, because not all fruits and vegetables are eatable.” said Timun Mas. “After you get them, you can directly eat them or you can have them cooked. If you want them cooked, you have to mix them with other food or spices. I have some spices if you want. I got it from my father right before you took me,” explained Timun Mas. “It’s called salt. You can get it from the sea water. It tastes salty. And this is shrimp pasta which can make your food yummier,” Timun Mas continued.

“OK, I get it, what else?” asked the giant.

“Come here, I’ll show you this highly seasoned and spiced vegetable, which is called chilly. What do you think?” said Timun Mas.

“Hmm…red color and it is quite long. I think I can find it in the forest,” the giant responded. “Hey Timun Mas, what else you have got in your little bag?” asked the giant.

“Only one more item, it is cucumber. You have already known it, haven’t you? Hey giant, why don’t we go to my house and cook some food for you to eat. My parents have lots of spices and food to be cooked,” said Timun Mas.

“That sounds a good idea. Let’s go! What are you waiting for?” The Giant replied excitedly.

The farmer couple was very surprised of what they saw because their lovely daughter was still alive. But, they were a little bit confused because Timun Mas came to the house with the giant.

“Timun Mas, we are so missing you! Thank God you are okay. But how come this giant…” the mother was puzzled.

“Relax mom, this giant has repented his sins and never eat human anymore. He wants to try to eat fruits and vegetables…and flesh form the livestock,” Timun Mas explained.

After tasting Timun Mas cook, the giant felt very pleased and decided to live with the family to help the father on the farm in order to get another delicious food cooked by Timun Mas. After coming back from the farm, Timun Mas always prepare the food for one more family member, the giant. From then on, Timun Mas and her family lived happily with the giant as their new family member.

*this was written when I was back in college

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