Aryo Menak dan His Wife

In the days when Aryo Menak lived, the island of Madura was still covered with thick forests. Only here and where were some scattered clearings and lakes. It was said at the time that the lakes were frequently visited by fairies on moonlit nights when they wished to have a bath.

Aryo Menak was then a young man who was fond of roaming through the woods. He used to walk by night as well as by day, taking a rest only went he was very weary. One night when the moon was shining brightly and he was as usual wandering throug the woods, he approached a certain lake. In want of sleep, he was looking for a resting-place when his attention was suddenly attracted by a loud noise and the sound of splashing.

"Can it be the fairies? he wondered. He had heard many stories about them but up to that time had never encountered them. He had not even caught a glimpse of one. Now, However, he was quite near to them, and peeping through the trees he saw seven beautiful young girls playing gaily in the lake.
"They are indeed fairies!. he whispered to himself, as he looked at the girls and at their clothes scattered all around.

Aryo Menak was speechless at the sight of so much beauty. He kept very still for fear the fairies would fly away if they discovered him watching them. Then a desire to have one of them as his wife arose in his heart. He stealthily approached the place where the clothes were lying and pulled one of the shawls away.

After thay had played for some time in the fresh water of the lake, the fairies made for home, but one, the youngest of them, did not go with them. She could not find her shawl and therefore could not fly home. Remaining in the water, she cried; My lord! am I to stay here, while all my friends return home?
Then Aryo Menak left his hiding-place and come over to her.
"Dear fairy. he asked. what are you crying for? But the fairy did not even look at him. please don't be afraid; I am not a bad man. he continued.
"I have lost my shawl and I can't go home. the fairy told him.
"Fairy. continued Aryo Menak. the gods might have intended you to stay here on earth. Come with me and live in my house. I'll make you a good husband, I promise.
Then the fairy said to herself; The man might be right. I can trust him. If I stay here in the lake I'll catch a cold and be all alone.
"All right, then. I'll go with you. She answered. Aryo Menak took her home and married her as he had promised.

Aryo Menak was one of the richest men in his village. He possessed rice-fields that yielded a large quantity of rice every year. But even though he now had a wife to take care of, his store of rich did not decrease; instead, it multiplied. He himself did not understand this normally the store would have become  less. But there was another thing that puzzled him, too. His wife never pounded the unhusked rice, as all the other women in the village did, yet she had cooked rice on the table everyday whenever she was cooking rice, she used to say to him. Please don't enter the kitchen. Aryo Menak did as he was told but gradually he became curious and wanted to know her secret. One day she said; Aryo, I'm going to the river to wash the dishes. Don't enter the kitchen.

Shortly afterward his wife came home. she put the dishes to dry in the sun and entered the kitchen. But when she lifted the lid of the pot. she did not see cooked rice as usual. The ear of unhusked rice was just as she had left it.
"Why is it still the same? she wondered. Then she waited a while and looked again. The rice remained as it was.
"Goodness! my husband has disobeyed me. Poor me! Gone is my easy life! she lamented. Then after a while she said to herself; if the gods want me to work hard, there is nothing else for it but to obey.

From the on, she pounded the rice as every village woman did. Her fingers grew rough and the stone of rice in the granary began to decrease daily. At last the bottom of the storage place would be seen. One day when she entered the granary to fetch some rice, there under the last layer of grains she discovered her shawl, which Aryo Menak had hidden and had forgotten to take away. On seeing this, she felt homesick and remembered the days she had spent together with her friends in heaven.

"I'll be happy when I see my friends again, she sighed and then she decided to return to the place where she had led and easy life, now that she had her shawl back again. As soon as she had wrapped herself in her shawl, her feet left the ground. As she flew higher and higher she called out. Dear Aryo, if you went to see me, just look at the moon. At the time of the full moon, I'll be there. In tears Aryo Menak beseeched her to return but she did not hear his cry. She flew farther until she was hidden by the clouds. Because of Aryo Menak's curiosity, the men of Madura today, since they are his descendants, do not cook rice.

Oleh. Dra. S. D. B. Aman.
Rewrite. Apero Fublic
Editor. Selita. S. Pd.
Dra. S. D. B. Aman. Folk Tales From Indonesia. Djambatan. Jakarta, 1995.

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