The Frog. From the Kai Island

Apero Fublic.- There were only seven of them, but they youngest looked different from the rest, for he was a frog whereas all his brothers were ordinary boys. Because of his appearance, his mother as well as his brothers called him Katak, which means "frog."

The family lived on one of the islands in the Kai archipelago, where people earn their living by fishing or sailing to other islands for trade. When the boys grew up, they to wanted too try their luck at trading. They therefore built a big vessel out of a tree trunk. When the work was nearly finished, Katak asked his mother if he could go with his brothers.

"But Katak. she said. You are too small and you have nothing to take with you.

"Dear Mother. He answered. If only allow me to go, I won't be afraid, even though I'm small. I don't need much food. If you have only a melon, that will do. At last the mother gave in and handed Katak on ripe melon. Then all of them set sail, even though the brothers looked down on Katak.

"Such a small creature! How can he help us at sea? At any rate, he won't hamper us. But the brothers greatly underestimated Katak's ability. This was soon proved when the wind blew hard and one of the sails became loose. None of the brothers dared climb up the mast to fasten it. They let Katak carry out this dangerous task. He was able to fasten the sail so that the vessel could sail on in safety. But the brothers were not at all grateful for Katak's help. When they reached an Island, they set him ashore, promising to fetch him on their why home.

It was lonely island. Katak could not see any inhabitants. Therefore he tried to do whatever he could. He cut his melon open and scattered the seeds on the ground; after some time they bore ripe fruit. In the meantime, Katak had built a hut where he could live and also store the ripe pruit. But great was his surprise when he notice that everytime the fruit was ripening, it vanished.

"How can this be? he wondered. This island is a lonely one. who could be stealing the fruit? This fuzzled him greatly.

One night the lay hidden behind the plans to discover the thief. After sometime he heard heavy footsteps approaching his hiding-place. Katak kept silent, feeling afraid, as he had never seen a person on the island. Then a large creature stepped into his garden, looking for the ripe fruit.

"Why,. thought Katak. it is a giant. on the island there was a big tree and Katak had not suspected that there was a hole under the trunk where the giant lived.

"Seen and caught. shouted Katak. Although he was very small, he was able to catch to the thief in the act of plucking a ripe melon.

"Well. Katak said. So that's the way my melons have been disappearing. The giant felt ashamed, for, even though he was a giant, he could not free himself from the firm grip of Katak's hands.

"Set me free, please. I'll will give you anything you want. the giant pleaded. Katak looked at the giant's belt. There was a small axe fastened to it.

"That's what I want. Katak replied, pointing to the axe, as it was magic axe. But, aware that he had done something wrong, he gave it to Katak, saying.

"With these axe you can get anything you went. you just tap it against the wall; then whatever you want will come; things made of gold, fine clothes, everything you want, But let me go!.

"All right. said Katak. If you are telling the truth, I'll set you free and give you my garden with all the melons.

What had happened to katak's brothers in the meantime? After they had bought a good load of merchandise, they did not even think of calling at Katak's island to fetch him, as they had promised. But as their vessel passed the island, Katak tapped with his axe; the wind stood still and they could sail no farther.

They were amazed, till one of them reminded the others of their promise. As soon as they had made up their minds to call for Katak, the wind began to blow again and they sailed towards Katak's island to fetch him. Then they set off homewards.

Their mother welcomed them with great joy, especially when she received nice presents from six of her sons. But she was disappointed when Katak did not have even one small gift for her.

"Katak. she said. You'd better stay at home if you can bring nothing at all for your mother. Katak kept silent. The next morning, Katak called his mother and said; "Mother, please do what I say; you will see why later on.

And indeed, when the mother had taken a bath and washed her dress, which had not been washed for a long time; she saw in her house a lot of dresses and shoes, and everything else she needed and had longed for.

"My son, I'm sorry I seemed to be disappointed in you. she said, with tears in her eyes. After she had dressed, Katak said; Dear mother, go to the's palace now and ask for the hand of one of the princesses in marriage. The mother stared at him in astonishment. Could she believe her earn? her son, a frog. Waiting to marry a princess. "For heaven's sake, Katak, you must be mad! "No, mother, just do what I tell you.

As Katak insisted on her going to the palace, the mother set out. But the king said; Goodness! one of my daughters marry to frog! how dare you ask for such a thing! however, you had better ask they yourself. Then the mother was brought by a courtier into the presence of the princesses.

When she had told them her message, all of them laughed and mocked at the poor woman until, deeply humiliated, she went home. However, on arriving home, she was told by Katak to return to the palace.

"Please mother, try again. The mother went back to the palace, where once again she was humiliated. But a third time Katak asked her to try again.

"Maybe one of them will consent to be my wife, mother. please go again.

This time, the youngest princess, called Putri Bungsu, took pity on the woman. She decided to accept Katak's proposal of marriage. But the king said; You hear, Putri Bungsu is willing to marry a frog. I shall agree only if Katak is able to fulfil my wish. I want to see a row of soldiers standing between the door of your hut and the gate of my palace., fully equipped with cannons and other weapons as suits a good army. Besides, I demand a lot of ornaments made of gold and other valuable metals as bridal presents.

The mother brought the message home to Katak, who said; Tonight, when you see lightning and hear thunder, don't be afraid; you'll see the reason tomorrow morning. "Indeed, lightning flashed and thunder rolled all through the night and, when dawn broke, everyone could see a row of soldiers standing along the road from the door of Katak's hut to the palace-gate, with cannons and other weapons as well. Inside the palace there were ornaments made of gold and other valuable metals in great heaps.

The king gave a big party on a scale never given before. This evoked the jealousy of the older princesses, who picked up Katak, placed him in a bowl, and said; "Dear sister Putri Bungsu, your husband is a frog and of no use to our family. Putri Bungsu was very sad on hearing this, and so carried Katak to her room.

But the sisters were not satisfied with having humiliated Putri Bungsu. They took her to a certain place where they had a house, to complete the traditional wedding customs of their people. This involved the bride's giving away part of her bridal gifts. But Katak conjured up other presents with his magic powers. Before leaving the house, Putri Bungsu prepared food for her husband.

As soon as she had departed, Katak changed into an ordinary human being, and conjured up fine clothes and a horse for himself. Thus he rode to the place where the princesses were working. From afar people saw him approaching and they thought that he was a very important guest. Therefore he was honoured as such, but when anyone offered him something to eat, he refused, except when it was Putri Bungsu who offered it. Then he vanished again.

On returning home he became a frog again and Putri Bungsu, on her return, wondered why his food remained untouched. This occurred a second time when the princess had to attend a certain ceremony with her sisters. Then she became curious and thought of a trick to learn the truth. She told her husband that she was going to a wedding reception. Again, according to the local custom, husband and wife did not go together; women usually went with women and men with men.

As Putri Bungsu was a princess, she was expected to give presents a suited a person of noble birth. Therefore, Katak again conjured up beautiful presents made of gold. Then the princess left. Actually she did not leave the house; she came back through another door to her room, hid herself behind a big chair and watched her husband.

"What is he doing? she wondered.

Feeling sure that his wife had left and that he was alone, Katak removed his frog attire, hung it up on the wall and showed himself to be an ordinary human being, a young man, handsome and well-built. Putri Bungsu was astounded. This was the knight who had ridden on horseback to her house on the beach for the ceremony.

He was her own husband. She could have cried out for joy, but she remained silent till her left, riding on his white horse. Then she took the frog attire from the wall, put it in a pan, added oil to it, and set it on the fire. After some time, Katak returned. As soon as he saw his frog attire in the boiling oil, he turned pale; Dear wife! he bried. Do you want to kill me?

Putri Bungsu was frightened. She certainly did not intend to kill her husband. What can be done?she cried. Suddenly she heard a voice saying. Wash him with coconut milk! Quickly!

Immediately she prepared some coconut milk and rubbed it all over Katak, who was becoming weaker and weaker. The coconut milk worked wonderfully. Katak regained his strength and was rescued from death. After that, he was forever a human being and Putri Bungsu was glad that she had been able to save her husband. Both lived happily together, in spite of those who tried to humiliate them by mentioning that Putri Bungsu's husband had once been a frog.

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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