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I Ubuh; The Orphan Became the King

by Bali Cartoon Teller
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Once upon a time, in Bali, there was an orphaned boy named I Ubuh. From an early age, he lived with only his grand father who loved him and taught him various traditional life skills; farming, plowing fields, fishing, raising bees, etc.

One day, his grand father taught him how to weave a bamboo fish traps for catching fishes, eels, and crabs in the rivers.

His grand father told him, “Be careful! Do not harvest young small fishes from fish traps. Let them free. If we take all, the young could not be mature and will never procreate. And the fish will become rare.”

Almost every afternoon, Ubuh installed the fish traps of various sizes and harvested the fish early in the morning before cooking and going to rice fields. Ubuh ate fish almost every day and that diet and his manual labor in the farm and rice fields made him grew tall and strong.

One morning the orphaned teen came to the river for harvesting the fish as usual. But this time all his traps were empty. It might also happened; a normal thing. He just reinstalled his fish traps in others spots and he came back next morning. But his fish traps were also empty.

I Ubuh felt that his tools were not in the exact place. It seemed that someone had come before and had harvested the fish from them. He had reinstalled them back to the same spots carelessly. “May be someone has stolen my fish. I should give him a lesson”, thought the young man.

The next day, he came to the river before dawn, and watched the river big stones where he had put the trap from a distance, behind a large rock by the river. He brought his “mutik” (a small but thick Balinese knife for making handy craft or the holes of bamboo flute).

Some time later, just after the dawn, he saw something emerged from the surface of the “demung” (a Balinese word for a natural river pond with less or no stones in some point of the stream in a volcanic country where usually the volcanic stones, big or small scattered everywhere). Gradually, it looked like a man with long hairs and beard, a portruding mouth like the fish’s one, and gray scaled body . He approached the big stones river where Ubuh had put the fish traps. Then he toke and immediately ate the fish from the first trap he found.

Ubuh thought, “Oh may be the creature is a “tonya”, a supernatural folkloric being who dwells in the river. So he is real”. Without second thought, Ubuh bravely came out of hiding and jumped very fast from one big river stone to another while rushing toward the “tonya”. Then he pulled the “tonya’s” long beard while pointing his small knife. He asked him, “Why do you steal my fishes? I made the traps for hours and why you don’t make your own?”

The “tonya” was trembling with fear. A tonya was a creature who had supernatural power but the fierce stair, courage, and moral strength of Ubuh made his power suddenly disappeared. He begged, “Oh young man, please spare my life. And I promise that I will never steal your fish again!” The young man who actually did not want to harm him release his grab and lower his knife. “Thank you young man. I promise I will be your friend till the rest of my life. As the symbol of our friendship, I give a coin from my dimension. And if you are in danger just call my name” Gde Murub” three times!” said the tonya while giving the coin.

Since that incident, Ubuh made the coin as the pendent of his necklace. It became like his talisman. The fish in his fish traps were never stolen again. And I Ubuh lived his life with better self esteem.

I Ubuh to the Capital City

One day, he went from village to the capital city. In the city square he saw a huge people crowd facing the king and joined in. He was curious, he tried to be in the front row to see better. He did not know that he accidentally would make his life in danger.

The king of that time was a cruel man. He loved to organize violent and odd spectacles for the amusement. He often pitted wild animals such as boar and tiger against armed humans in an arena. This time he made a new violent game. Between him and the people there was a big and deep hole in which his soldiers had planted sharp pointed logs. He ordered the people to gather and one of his servant shouted repeatedly, “The king is doing a contest, whoever dares to jump over this hole and manages to cross it over, he has the right to become the new king. The king has promised. Come on who dares!”

The people kept silent. They were disgusted with the king challenge. It reflected his wicked characters and strange taste. He just showed a power extravaganza by the game. The diameter of the hole was enormous. Even the best warrior would not be able to jump it over.

I Ubuh was trying to make his way to the front row. The strong build like a warrior teen blew through the crowd and once he reached the front row, someone shouted, “This warrior accept the challenge!” Every body looked at him, clapped his hands and shouted “Jump it! Jump it! Then someone in the crowd pushed him forward until he lost his balance and staggered forward. Maybe the pusher was an excited people or an accomplice of the king who was trying to heating up the atmosphere.

This teenager understood too late what was going on. He was trembling with fear. Several armed soldiers ordered him to run towards the hole and jump over it. He had no pont to return . Then he meditated a bit. He tried to be brave. Suddenly he remembered the promise of the supra natural river dweller, then said his name 3 times, “Gede Murub! Gede Murub! Gede Murub!”

He run fast toward the wide hole and jumped. All of sudden, he felt that his body was very light like a feather and he could jump so high and long. He jumped it over and arrived to the opposite side. People shouted hysterically, jumped, and danced around, “New king! New king! Even the soldiers joined the mass and share the people’s joy.

The king was shocked by the result of the game and uttered no word. He got angry to the crowd who was overwhelmed By the joy. The king lost his sanity, jumped from his throne, run toward the hole and jumped it over impulsively. But he felt into the hole after a short distance and was killed instantly by the pointed logs.

I Ubuh was paraded by the people who cheered him on. And on that same day, he was enthroned as the new king by the people.

Story Teller: Guntur Suyasa, Illustrator: Putu Ebo

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