6/20/2019

How Lake Toba Canme Into Existence

Apero Fublic.- Long ago there lived in North Sumatra in the neighbourhood of a small lake, a poor farmer who earned his living by working in the fields. all they long he was either ploughing, hoeing, flooding the fields, sowing seeds or reaping rice, but the also went into the forest to gather wood for the market and for home, from the money he earned he bought salt, dried fish and other daily needs, If there were still money left, he would spend it on a piece of underwear or a hat which he could wear when working in the field.

Being a good and diligent worker, every morning he left his cottage, but one day he had a strange mood. his store of wood for the kitchen was almost finished. still he did not feel like going to the forest as was his habit. staying at home he disliked also.


"What shall I do? he wondered, caressing his forehead with hand while closing his eyes for some minutes, and not able to understand himself.

At last he took his fishing-rod and left for the lake, saying to himself. I'd rather sit there on the bank of the lake and think about my life and fate than stay in my hut all day long.


On coming to the lake, he threw his hook in the water, then sat on big stone. a lot of things crowded his mind. He thought about his friend whom he envied, as he lived in better circumstances and was luckier than he.


"Why can my friend buy yhe things he wants and do everything he likes? Look at me! to get a bit of rice, I have to work hard every day, and am exposed to wind and weath. Weather while cutting wood in the forest and carrying it to the market. he lamented.


While he was day-dreaming, his hook went up and down all of a sudden. Something was pulling at it. A fish? How could it be! But look! there! and down went to hook again. The farmer was astonished. Could he believe his eyes? were there any big fish in the lake? He rubbed his eyes many times to make sure whether he was dreaming. Shaking his head, he said; I am not dreaming. no, I am not.


Without thinking any longer, he pulled at the rod! indeed, it was a fish! The farmer was very happy, that being the first time he had caught a fish in the lake. But it was a strange fish, for its body was white and glittered in the sunshine like a diamond. Great was the farmer's surprise when, on his trying to touch it, the fish spoke. Dear farmer, don't take me to your home. Put me in a rice-field containing water and come to see me every day before noon. If you haven't time, just come the next day!


“Whe are you? The farmer stammered, but before this question was finished, the fish continued. Don’t worry who I am. I hope you will obey what I have said. ‘It’s all right. The farmer answered. I’ll keep my word.


It happened to be the dry season. rain had not fallen for a long time and therefore it was difficult for the farmer to find a rice-field filled with water. He walked here and there but found nothing. When he thought there was no chance at all of finding one, he saw a rice-field in which there was a small spot of water.


"Can the fish live if I put it down here? he wondered, but the fish was speaking again. Dear farmer, I know what you are thinking. just put me in it and again I remind you not to forget to come and see me every day. "It shall be done. the man replied. after having put the fish into the water, the farmer made for home. On the way home, he thought about the strange behaviour of the fish and the promise he had to keep.


Why does she want me to come there every day? that night he could not sleep. his thoughts were occupied by the strange animal he had caught that very morning. "Strange. he said. it can speak.


The next morning the farmer was off at dawn for the rice-field. being very anxious to see what had happened to the fish, he walked faster and faster. Althought it was dark, he had already passed several rice-field. all was silent.

Only the hooting of on owl broke the silence of the surrounding but nevertheless he felt no fear. then he approach the spot. From a distance he saw small things like gnats, shining in the darkness coming up at him.


"What are they? he thought. when they Were near him, he caught one of them and smelt it. "It smells bad. he murmered. it's the smell of fish. When he had taken some steps forward, there at the edge of the rice-field he saw a beautiful woman sitting alone. On seeing the farmer, she smiled, winked several times and stared him right into the face. Becoming afraid, the farmer attempted to run away but could not move his legs. they felt as if they were fastened with a piece of iron.

“Poor farmer. She suddenly said. Don’t be afraid. I am the fish you caught yesterday and left in this place. Now I am showing myself in the guise of a human being; take me home and make me your wife.“My wife? The man asked. “Will you live with me and be my wife?.
“Yes.
“Will you life in my ugly cottage, a hut looking like a hovel?.

“Oh, you needn’t tell me about it. I know you are poor. “If you have decided to come with me, sharinga poor life and suffering everything, please do; you are welcome. After a while the woman answered. No matter where you let me live, only one thing. Don’t tell anybody where I came from.


Is that all? the farmer smiled. He thought this wish of hers would not be difficult to fullfil and none would ever know. the fish repeated; don't tell anyone about my origin!. the farmer promised again and they went to the farmer's hut. all the neightbours were astonished at seeing such a beautiful woman, but none asked who she was, where she came from, who her parents were, how she had lived and how she had come there.


The farmer and his wife lived happily together and after two years she bore him a son who was as good-looking as his mother, with curly hair and eyes as round as fish-eyes. But strange, from the time he started eating rice, he was fond of fish. He was satisfied with piece of fried fish whenever there was nothing to eat.


As usual, when the farmer was working in the field, his wife prepared his meal, which she herself took to him. One day, however, she had it done by her son, saying. Son hurry! it is already late, your father will be hungry.  The son took the food, but on his way to the rice-field, he meet his playmates, who were playing together, running and laughing.

The farmer's son stopped walking, joined the group and forgot the time. For hours he played, then he realized he had to bring food to his father. But his was hungry and ate the rice prepared for his father. Afterwards he ran to him while he was still working in the field, only to tell him that he had eaten up the rice.


The father fell into a rage. He boxed his son's ears and shouted. you naughty boy, son of a fish! Go home! It's no use crying here! Sobbing he went home, where his mother asked him. what the matter? why are you crying? who has annoyed you?


"My father, Mother. the boy answered. He boxed my ears and called me to the son of a fish. Is that true, mother?

"Stop crying! what your father has said is true. your ancestors were fish. I am very sorry for your father; there is nothing else to do. go to that hill! she answered, pointing to the hill where her son had to go.

'In no time this all will be flooded. go quickly, I'll follow you.


Within a few minutes the woman beat a drum as hard as she could, in order to be heard far and wide. and what happened? The wind blew tremendously hard from west to east. Trees tumbled down and houses were destroyed. Heavy rain fell as if pouring out from the sky. Lightning flashed, splitting the earth into pieces. In a short time the toba area was filled up with water, one meter deep. People ran in panic, looking for shelter.


Those who were protected reached a high place and were saved. Other, being unlucky, were drowned while hundreds of cattle floated on the surface, dead!


Fortunately, this catastrophe which befell the Toba area did not last long. The flood withdraw after some days and only the spot where the farmer's hut had stood was covered with wate. this water did not withdraw but rose gradually  higher and higher till a became a lake Toba. People arround that lake still believe that the fish which had shown herself in the guise of a human being, is living there, often coming to the surface when there is nobody there.

Oleh. Dra. S.D.B. Aman.
Rewrite. Apero Fublic.
Editor. Desti. S. Sos.
Fotografer. Dadang Saputra.
Source : Dra. S.D.B. Aman. Folk Tales From Indonesia. Djambatan. Jakarta, 1995.
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