THE STORY OF THE GOLDEN CUCUMBER

 

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

Long ago, there lived a middle aged widow called Mbok Satiyem in a kampong of central Java. She lived alone and she was always willing to have a child, but there was nothing she could do because her husband had died. She could only wait for the miracle to happen. She prayed for a baby day and night and perhaps God would answer her prayer.

 

Mbok Satiyem had a strange dream one evening. In the dream, a giant approached the widow and asked her to go to pick up a vegetable basket under a tree in the forest where she usually cut firewood. When she woke up the next morning, she could hardly believe what she had dreamed.

 

The widow tired her best to remove the hesitation. She went to the place where the giant had shown her in the dream. After she arrived there, she began to look for the vegetable basket under the tree. She taught it should be a baby lying under the blanket while she found the basket. However, she was surprised to see that it was only a cucumber seed in the vegetable basket. Her mind was clouded with doubt at the very moment.

 

“Why did the giant give me a cucumber seed?” said the widow.

 

While she was very confused, a giant appeared behind her and laughed out loud.

 

“Ha…… ha…….. Ha ………..” the giant laughed.

 

Mbok Satiyem was so frightened and turned back immediately. She couldn’t believe her eyes that the giant standing in front of her was the one she saw in her dream. Fear arose from her heart and a chill crept over her backbone.

 

“Pardon me, Sir Giant! Don’t eat me! I still want to live,” Mbok Satiyem begged with trembling voice and pale face.

 

“Don’t be scared, old woman! I won’t eat you,” said the giant. “Don’t you want a baby?”

 

“Yes, I do, Sir Giant,” replied the widow, trembling.

 

“Grow the seed if you really mean it. You’re going to have a baby. Don’t forget to hand over the child to me after she has grown up and she’ll be my favorite food,” said the giant.

 

As Mbok Satiyem was too eager to have a baby, she agreed with the giant.

 

“Okay, Sir Giant! I promise I’ll hand over the child later,” said the widow.

 

After Mbok Satiyem finished saying, the giant disappeared in a cloud of white smoke.

 

The widow grew the seed in her garden. She watered the seed every day in the hope that it would grow faster.

 

The cucumber plant began to blossom two months later, but it bore only one fruit. The cucumber grew bigger day after day and it had the giant size that the ordinary cucumbers didn’t have. It also had golden color, which was so different from the cucumbers sold in the market.

 

After the cucumber got ripe, Mbok Satiyem took it home with great effort. She found a cute baby girl after she cut the big cucumber in half. She was extremely surprised and the baby cried while the widow tried to hold her.

 

“Owh….. Owh…… Owh…….” The baby girl cried.

 

Mbok Satiyem was very happy to hear the cries that she had been longing for. She named the baby Timun Mas (The golden cucumber).

 

“Muah…. Muah ……. Muah ……..!!! Don’t cry baby,” said Mbok Satiyem.

 

The widow couldn’t resist her joy, drops of tear rolled down her aging cheeks that started wrinkling. The joy and happiness made her forget the promise that she should hand over the child to the giant someday.

 

She took care of the baby with all her heart until she grew up into a fine young lady. The old widow was very proud of her daughter. Timun Mas was very beautiful and clever and had good manner. That was why her mother loved her so much.

 

One evening, Mbok Satiyem met the giant in her dream again. He told the old widow that he would come to take her daughter a week later. Afterwards, the widow looked gloomy and always sat alone each day. She was very sad that she should say goodbye to her beloved daughter. She realized that the giant was indeed wicked because he was going to eat Timun Mas as his favorite food.  

 

Timun Mas was wondering why her mother became so quiet and withdrawn. One afternoon, she dared herself to ask what had happened to her mother.

 

“Mom, why do you look so unhappy?” asked Timun Mas.

 

Mbok Satiyem didn’t want her daughter to know what was going on. However, the old widow was continuously urged to tell the cause of the sadness. At last, she revealed the secret buried in her heart. The old widow told her daughter where she actually came from.

 

“I’m sorry, my dear! I didn’t let you know the secret,” said Mbok Satiyem, looking sad.

 

“What secret, Mom?” asked Timun Mas, looking confused.

 

“To tell you the truth, I’m not your birth mother.”

 “What do you mean, Mom?” asked Timun Mas.

Mbok Satiyem became upset again because she didn’t know how to save her daughter. She still didn’t find the solution till the day chosen by the giant. While she was worrying, a trick flashed across her mind. The widow told her daughter to pretend to be sick, so that the giant wouldn’t eat her. Timun Mas was so astonished after her mother revealed the secret. At sunset, the giant came to Mbok Satiyem’s hut.

“Hey, old woman! Where’s your daughter?” The giant said, “I want to take her away now.”

“Sorry, Sir Giant. My daughter is sick. It isn’t tasty if you eat her now,” answered the widow.

“Please come back three days later, I would like to cure her sickness first,” said the widow, trying to gain time to save her daughter.

“Okay. You promise to hand over your daughter, don’t you?” asked the giant.

After the widow said she would keep her promise, the giant disappeared. She fell into deep thought again and finally she found a solution to save her daughter. She made up her mind to go to the mountain to ask for help from a hermit that she thought would surely help her.

“My dear, Mom will go to the mountain to meet a hermit. He is my late grandpa’s friend. Perhaps he can help us to get rid of the evil giant,” said the old widow.

“Yes, Mom. The giant should be eliminated. I don’t want to be his favorite food.”

Mbok Satiyem went to the mountain the next day. She had to walk tiredly on the way where grass grew on the either side of the path.

“Sir, I’d like to ask for a favor.” Mbok Satiyem said.

“What can I do for you?” asked the hermit.

The hermit promised to help after knowing the problem.

“Please wait a moment,” said the hermit and he went in his secret room.

After a while, the hermit got out of the room. He brought four packets and handed over to the widow.

“Give these packets to your daughter. Each packet has cucumber seeds, needles, salt and shrimp paste inside,” said the hermit.

“Spread all these things on the way while the giant chase her,” he continued.

After knowing how to use those things for self defense, Mbok Satiyem took the packets home.

After arriving home, Mbok Satiyem gave Timun Mas the packets and told her how to use them. The old widow felt more relaxed because her daughter already had the weapons to protect herself.

Two days later, the giant came to Mbok Satiyem. He couldn’t wait any longer because he was very hungry and should fill his stomach as soon as possible.

Hey, old woman! You must keep your promise, otherwise I’ll eat you too,” said the giant with threatening voice.

Mbok Satiyem wasn’t afraid of the threat anymore. She called Timun Mas to come out of the house. A moment later, Timun Mas came out of the thatched cottage and stood beside her mother.

“Don’t be scared, my dear! Run quickly and do what I told you if the giant wants to catch you.”

“Okay Mom,” Timun Mas replied.

It stimulated the giant’s appetite at the time he saw the grown up Timun Mas. While the giant stretched his hands to catch Timun Mas, she ran away as fast as she could. The giant chased her as if a cat was chasing a mouse.

Timun Mas slowed down her speed because she had already felt tired. Meanwhile, the giant was approaching in the distance. Eventually, she took one of the packets out of her pocket.

At first, Timun Mas spread the cucumber seeds and the miracle happened. All the trees around there transformed into a cucumber field. The cucumber vine twined up the giant’s body, but he was able to release himself and continued to chase the poor girl.

Timun Mas threw out the second packet filled with needles. All of a sudden, the needles turned into tall and sharp bamboo trees. The giant went through the bamboo grove without much difficulty, though his feet were wounded and bloody.

Seeing that all the magic didn’t work, Timun Mas opened the third packet. She spread the salt on the way and the forest turned into deep sea. But the giant could still pass it easily.

Timun Mas was very scared because she had only one packet left. If the last weapon couldn’t get rid of the enemy, she would be doomed. She threw the last packet full of shrimp paste confidently. The shrimp paste transformed the place into a sea of hot mud. The giant was trapped and buried in the mud. Timun Mas finally survived the danger.

The next morning, Timun Mas and her mother went to the mountain to meet the hermit. They wanted to say thank you for his help. A little boy came and told them that the hermit had already moved. No one knew where he had gone.

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