Image by Ryan Mcguire from Pixabay

Long ago, there was a big kingdom in Sumidang, south Sumatra. Serunting was the prince living in the palace. He was eaten up with jealousy whenever he saw people living a good life and bought luxuries.

Prince Serunting already got married and his brother in law was Aria Tebing. Each had a paddy field. Their paddy fields were side by side and only separated by growing trees.

There were mushrooms growing at the base of the trees. The mushrooms that were in Arie Tebing’s area grew into gold. However, the mushrooms growing in Serunting’s location were all useless parasites.

Serunting was so jealous and he had a bad opinion of Aria Tebing. He was sure that Aria Tebing had done something evil, which caused the mushrooms growing in his area became invaluable.

Serunting came to meet Aria Tebing the next day. He had an ill feeling towards his brother in law and Aria Tebing was challenged to a duel.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Aria Tebing.

Serunting insisted that they should fight. Aria Tebing was so confused and he knew that Serunting had strong supernatural power.

After a deep thought, Aria Tebing had an idea. He asked his elder sister to tell him Serunting’s weakness. His elder sister should know the secret because she was Serunting’s wife.

“Please tell me his weakness.” Aria Tebing said, “If I lose, I’ll be killed.”

“Sorry my dear brother, I can’t tell you my husband’s weakness,” said his elder sister.

“Believe me I won’t kill your husband. I just want to save my life,” said Aria Tebing.

As the woman took pity on her dear brother, she told Aria Tebing her husband’s weakness.

“The coarse grass that sways without wind is his weakness,” said Serunting’s wife.

The following day, Aria Tebing stuck his spear in the windless swaying coarse grass before the duel. Serunting was defeated and badly wounded.  

Serunting discovered that his wife had told his brother in law his weakness. He left his house and became a wanderer as he felt that he was betrayed. At last, he lived the life of a hermit at Mount Siguntang.

Suddenly he heard the voice of Hyang Mahameru in his meditation. “Hey, Serunting! I’m going to transform my magic power to you. Do you want it?” the voice asked.

“I want the magic power, my dear Hyang Mahameru,” replied Serunting.

“You must meditate under the bamboo trees. You’ll get the power after your body is covered by bamboo leaves,” said Hyang Mahameru.

Serunting meditated under the bamboo trees for two years until his whole body was covered by bamboo leaves. He possessed the magic power now. Everything that he said would be true.

One day, he intended to return to his hometown at Sumidang. He put a curse on all the sugar canes that turned them into stones.

“Hey, transform yourself into tree,” Serunting shouted loudly.

He also cursed the people along the riverside into stones.

Day after day, Serunting became more vicious and proud. All the people called him the bitter tongue. He slowly became aware of his false after arriving at a barren hill. Then he transformed the barren hill into a forest. The villagers were thankful to him as they could have more woods for sale in the market.

Serunting continued his journey to Karang Agung village. He saw an old couple living in an old house. He approached the old husband and wife, pretending to ask for a sip of water.

The grandpa and grandma were very friendly. They hoped they could have a son to help them do the housework. Serunting helped them change their dream into reality.

While Serunting saw a hair falling on the old woman’s clothes, he took the hair and turned it into a baby. The old couple was very glad and they were so grateful to Serunting.

Serunting was so cheerful that he was able to help others out of their difficulties. He did all the good deeds for the ones who needed help. Though what he said were all the positive words, people still called him the bitter tongue.


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