The Story of Malin Kundang

The Story of Malin Kundang

Since the text of Malin Kundang folktale is not easy to find, especially the one written in English; therefore, I want to share the following text to you all. Hope it is useful for you. This story is the most well-known folktale among Minangkabau people in West Sumatra province, and generally known in Indonesia.

This story has been published in:

Alibasah, Margaret Muth. 1975. Indonesian Folk Tales. Djakarta; Djambatan, pp. 11-17.


Malin Kundang


Far, far away, on the coast of Western Sumatra near the mount of the Batang Arau River, there is a large gray rock. It looks like any rock anywhere, but the people in the nearby fishing villages approach it with great awe, and not a little fear, and they bring their children to it to tell them its story. For the rock was once a ship – the ship of fisherman’s son from their own neigbourhood, who sinned against his mother and was thus punished for his evil deed.

Most of the inhabitants of the village were poor. They made their living only fishing; farming they did not know. One of the families, poorer than the rest, had one boy named Malin Kundang. Because he was their only son, they loved him more than was good for him, and they spoiled him, and as is so often the case, instead of returning their love and goodness to him, he became lazy and selfish and naughty, and a burden to them.

One morning, as Malin Kundang’s mother set in their small cottage weaving cloth, Malin Kundang, as always looking for mischief, stole up quietly behind her and quickly grabbed her spool. He was about to run away with it when he fell, and the sharp point of the bobbin pierced his forehead just above the eyebrow. Weeping loudly, he ran back to his mother, who cleaned and bandaged his wound without delay and comforted her naughty child. The wound healed quickly, but it left a large scar.

One day Malin Kundang’s father heard that there was a ship at the delta whose captain was looking for additions to his screw. Malin Kundang was growing up, and his father, thinking only of his son’s good and his future, asked him whether he would like to sail. Yes, he would, said Malin Kundang. It seemed to him an excellent idea; he would go far awar, to distant lands, to all the world.

And so he left his parents, and the village where he had grown up, and joined the crew of the large ship his father had told him about. His parents took leave of him with great sadness. In spite of his bad behavior he was still their only son, and they would now be alone again.

As was to be expected, no news came to the parents of their sailor son. Years passed; the father died, and Malin Kundang’s mother lived by herself, poverty-stricken old woman, whose one hope in the miserable world in which she lived, was to have some word from her son before her own life-span was ended.

Meanwhile, what of the son? He was in luck, Malin Kundang, this son of poor fisherfolk. The days of his apprenticehip as a common sailor were far behind. Not only was he a captain of ship; he was the owner of a fleet of merchant ships; as well. Ships, houses, jewels, all the world’s goods he desired were his—and so he lived, adding to his possessions and to his wealth as he sailed from country to country, a prosperous, successful merchant and shipowner. Forgotten were the days of his youth, his parents, their love and kindness towards him. The traits of his boyhood, selfishness, indifference to the welfare of others, conceit—they were all emphasized as he had grown to man’s estate. Tall and straight he had grown – a handsome captain indeed – but the straightness was of pride and the bearing of the head showed conceit and superciliousness. This was Malin Kundang.

One day the villagers of the delta town of Batang Arau saw a large handsome ship, a foreign ship, in their small harbor. One whispered to another, and this one to again another, that the tall man standing on deck was noe other than Malin Kundang. It had been years and years since Malin Kundang had left the village as a young boy, and it was now a grown man they saw, a bold and dashing figure, elegantly dressed. But the older folk knew him by the scar above his eyebrow. They remembered.

The news spread fast. An old man hurried to the home of Malin Kundang’s mother, and panting in his state to tell her, he cried, “Old Mother, old Mother, your son has returned. He is the captain of a splendid ship that has dropped anchor in the harbor. He is a great man now – a rich man. They say it is own ship. Come, Old Mother, and see. Come and see!”

Malin Kundang’s mother could hardly believe the news. The tears rushed to her eyes and streamed down her wrinkled face. Quickly she fetched a basket, filled it with rice, and left the house with the old man.

The ship was splendid indeed. Never before had the village been privileged to receive such a ship in its humble harbor. The spectators were there in throngs, admiring the vessel from stem to stern: the wood of its main mast; its billowing white sails. It was a great event, a great day!

Life and its color

The Whispering New Year of 2010

The Whispering New Year of 2010

I started the day with an empty eyes in the morning. My bed room was felt like the same old styles and never been changed. The furniture and all things in it. Then, I walked in a glimpse to the mirror and saw my face. The same face. The different was only that I was getting older. What was I felt was so intense and I did not have to think about the year or even any of its celebration. Yeah, the 2010 year.
All days are just the same.
“Morning, mom,” I said to her, a women who have been accompanying me all these years. She really knew and saw her son. I am glad to have her as my mother.
“Do you wanna have the same omelet or a new lontong from outside?”, she asked me.
“I would prefer a fried rice, please. Let me cook it for this time. May I?”
“Well, why not? But, I have cooked the omelet for you, dear son”
“I will add it to the rice, then”
“Oke, make yourself good”, then she left me lonely at the kitchen.
While I was in the kitchen, I was wondering and imagining my life. What kind of life that Iwas trying to cope with. I know that I did not have any perfect kind of things to be proud of. My parents were not even rich. They just wanted the best for their child. They wanted me to be better than them. Suddenly, my mind was driven to bad scenes of our life. Being poor, losing some money for a living and selling things to get some money. Things like that were always hunting my mind. But, what could I do with that? Just forget and pretend to myself as if they were just illusion?
The fried rice was finished and I started to eat it, with the cooked omelet by my mother. And, I finished eating all of them with a glass of tea. I looked at the calendar, it was January 1, 2010. What a great new day to start the day. I guested.
That shining morning, I went for a lonely walk to a Padang beach. The beach was the only favourite spot I had ever visited, until now. The beach had its mystery and untouchfully meanings. It was like that it was speaking to me.
The wind blew over my body and I could feel the ease sea touch and the smell of the salt. So wonderful.
I looked at the wide open sea, I remember when the day of the terrible earthquake happened. It was in September 30, 2009. Thousands of people were dead because of it. Whose fault? God had his own desire to make this nature as he wanted. I was only a human. What could I do? Saving those living people with my own had was so great, but, I coudn’t. I just couldn’t. I was a poor guy.
The sun was getting hotter and it was at noon. The beach was getting warmer too. I did not want to go. No, I changed my mind. I took a walk to follow all the paths found in the shore of Padang beach. I saw some little children playing with the sand and they built a small castle. Just like my younger times. Then, the wace came. It destroyed the castle. The kids were still laughing, showing to me that they were all so joyful. Doesn’t care for what they were living for. Only a fun.
My mind was keeping me to think about a thing I did not understand. What would I want to get for this year? I was asking to myself and I said, “I want a perfect life. And, I want a better life as the other people get it”. Several minutes later I though the statement was so stupid. Would I make it possible only by dreaming it? Would it be possible?
I took a stone and then throwed it to the open sea. It flewed near. Later, it sank, like a dead man couldn’t swim. I stood still watching and communicating with the sound of the sea. “I am nobody but myself”, I said confidently. No sound. “I am somebody and I know that I can be like that”, I said louder. A bird made a sound in a tree. Would it be a sign that I could be somebody? That would be mean, “Yes, you can.” “Thanks a little charming bird”. I walked again and reached the mosque, Babussalam. I took a Dzuhur prayer and thanked God for all things that I had got in my life. Really thanked him for his love and tenderness in and to me.
My foot kept walking after the prayer. They reached the home. I saw my mother was talking to our neighbour, Miss Taci. That old women had just arrived from Macca, doing her Hajj. She begged for sorry to us to be accepated as what she did in the past was a miserable attitude. Seeing this thing, I never realize that life itself presents various scenes of pictures of life and the colour of their outlook.
As a growing up young man, there were many things that I should have to know all about life. If I reflected all things that I had been passing through all the years, there were many pains and happiness felt. All of that things had shaped me to be as who I am now.
I had been losing a younger brother, Rahmat, who was died because of Mosquito’s bites, and amazingly, the nature provided me with one younger brother and one younger sister as the replacement of the passed-away little brother. Then, the problem of financial crisis at home. Nobody knew that my family and I had to survive from it. We did it and we still, sometimes, faced the same case. It was like living this life in an ups and downs mode. However, no matter difficult the time was, togetherness in my family was always be the glorious side that I was, am and will always be happy and proud to have.
When I took my mind off from the bed, I was thinking about the facts speaking to me out there. Life seemed to be ridiculous in several aspects. What else than it could be if seeing poor people living worsely was like an everyday news channel in a dining room. There was a help, but, the help was gone as the wind smoothly touched m,y skin. Three months later, the help was announced and the poor people got a tax for it. The rich would always be the rich. Sharing was meant to be buying other people’s attention and getting a pride as a socialist person. Artists were singing glamorously but the poor people were still poor ones. The rich said, “They don’t have a choice. They have to fight like what we do now”. But, the point is, in what way they could survive if not from getting a helping hand? I guess that I believed that nobody could live alone.
It was like seeing thousand of TV’s faces in front of you. You could see happiness, and in the same time, there was sadness showed. Many kinds of pictures of life had presented a great idea for a novel or a story. When it had finished, then what? Poor people were still around. “We can’t help them. It is a regulation to catch the people on the street, especially the bitch”. The same things happened and happened again. One was captured, the other one was released. It won’t make any difference.
The adventure and the traveling of mind was finally ended when I looked up into the stars in the night. They were all wonderful. The sun and the stars were actually the same but they were different in terms of their distance to the earth. I was imagining they could speak to me and said, “Hi!”. They couldn’t. While listening to the soothing music of Kenny G’s, I was wondering what the 2010 year would be. Would it be full of happiness or remained the same as the previous years? Nobody knew, especially me. Then, I figured out one single sentence for this year, “Shaving will clean your face”. That means that I do not have to do things that I do not like. I have to find things on my own. Sometimes, we know the best for ourselves, but, sometimes, we don’t and people do.
Finally, I had to choose my single word as the motivational words for the year of 2010. “Do good, be good, get good and end good”. Just all the good things that I want.
Padang, January 1, 2010.
My family, I love you so much. Robby and Rina, I hope you can grow better than I do. 
Love you all.
Short Stories

An Empty Room

An Empty Room

A short story by Syayid’08

There was a walk I was passing by. It was late in the night. I felt so cold as my dresses were so wet by the rain, falling hard outside. The wind takes my hat away. I tried to keep it to be always in my head. ‘Till I found a house. A very old one. It was an old building. Thunder helped me to see the house clearly. It was a very hard September rain. Lonely. Wet. There was me. As I got into the house, I found none stayed there. It was dark, completely dark.

“Hello, is there anybody here?”, my voice did not get any reply.
I felt as I was lonely. In the meeting room, I saw a picture of a beautiful lady. It hanged over the wall but her beauty seemed reflected so in perfect to my eye.
When I asked again, still, I didn’t get any reply. Then, I walked in. Slowly I came into a big room. The light by thunders from the window helped me to see better the room. The pictures were still the same. There were all lady’s picture.

Days and days I stayed there in the house. It was as usual. It was empty. Till I found a room with colorful and is decorated with many beautiful flowers inside. I smelled delicious Turkish delight.

I saw a flower which kept tightly in a pink-leather cage. The flower was so lovely. Pink-red. Seemed like a rose but it was not. My mind kept asking me, of whom this warm and beautiful room belongs to. The smell was so relaxing. Then, I felt as a magic. As I touched the cage of the flower, I was in the other world. It was in a park with many beautiful flowers. So beauty.

My ears were slowly listening to a delightful music heard from a distance. It was from a girl. A girl whose pictures I had seen in the house. Then, I knew that it was not real. I was in the ghost world.

The girl smiled at me. She stopped and gave me a flower. It was exactly as the same as the flower which I saw in the room. She wore a blond hat with beautiful dress in green. Her eyes were felt as warm as the morning sun. But, we could not speak, even to touch. When I sensed the flower, she spoke some words to me.

“Please, keep the flower for me…”
I was shocked, “who are you?”
“I am nobody but you. I am your inner side. I won’t go anywhere. I am you.”
“But, what?”, I asked in doubt.

She was gone. Only a silence came into my ear. All were dissapeared. I turned back to the house lonely and in wet. I was in an empty room, with picture of the girl whom I couldn’t see inside. Completely empty. An empty room. Full with no meaning dignity.

Short Stories